39. Distressing Dip

Spinach-and-kale-dipMarathon training was ramping up and Marty made a request to start eating better. With that in mind, on our next scheduled run, I arrived at his house armed with spinach and kale dip that was inspired by something that I got from Trader Joe’s. We could eat it as a post-run snack rather than a full meal, I thought. It was made with Greek yogurt for dairy/protein and could be eaten with crackers or bread to fulfill the grain requirement for a proper diet. If that wasn’t enough food, we could make soup to supplement the snack, I justified with my nerdy enthusiasm for good nutrition.

It was a grey  spring day and at 38F, walking out the door was like walking into a bowl of cold soup. It required a bit more than just running pants and fleece. I had a closet full of moisture-wicking running clothes to warm me up and cool me down, while Marty donned baggy spandex pants that he clearly got as an uninformed, pseudo-athlete at an unidentifiable period in the last two decades. I tried to ignore it, but the pants haunted me as we started trudging through the West Loop.

Spinach and kale dip

We trotted to Skinner Park and just before we were to cross the bridge over the Expressway to get to University Village, the tip of my shoe caught a crack in the sidewalk, yanking me down to the concrete. It was not graceful. It was not pretty or cute. It was just embarrassing. But not as embarrassing as Marty’s pants, I thought. This was the second time in six months I had fallen while running. The first time was on a busy street where no one walks. The only people who might have seen me were people in passing cars, but it was still shameful. This time, the only eyes on me were the only ones I didn’t want to see me. It was exponentially more humiliating.

Physically I was OK, but a little shaken. Marty was kind about it; he didn’t laugh, surprisingly.  He helped me up, checked me for wounds and gave me a hug. I instantly felt guilty for pants-shaming him inside my head. We walked and talked the rest of the distance we were supposed to complete at a sprint. I suspect he was secretly relieved he wouldn’t have to run.

I didn’t have any sober friends, so I didn’t have anyone to tell me that, as a new non-drinker, you obsess about being sober. That’s all I wanted to talk about. I wanted to purge myself of all the embarrassing things I did as a drunk. My fall on the sidewalk opened up a reasonable segue into this conversation with Marty.

“Did you ever crash your bike when you were drunk?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said.

“Were you with people?”

“Yes. Margaret,” I answered. “It was a parked car. It was after someone’s birthday party at a bar. LOTS of shots were involved.”

“When was that?”

“Probably three years ago,” I said. “I don’t know how I didn’t recognize that I had a problem then.”

“Well, the good news is that you don’t have to worry about crashing your bike into a parked car drunk anymore,” he encouraged me. “You just have to worry about doing it sober.” I laughed and he patted me on the butt the way athletes do. 

Up to this point I had never asked what compelled him to get sober, and I didn’t have to; he offered to tell me.

“I was hammered and smashed my car head-on into another car. Three people were in it. No one died. But that was my unofficial invitation to The Rooms.” That was a hard revelation to respond to, so I didn’t.

After a long pause, Marty suggested I email Margaret, “You guys should be friends.”

“I did. I emailed Lucy, too,” I said. “I haven’t heard back from either one.”

“You’re making progress,” he said. “That’s good. People can be unexpectedly forgiving.”  

When we got back to Marty’s house, I served him the spinach and kale dip with crackers.









Spinach and Kale Yogurt Dip

  • ½ bunch kale, stems removed, blanched and chopped, water squeezed out
  • 1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 can water chestnuts, halved and sliced
  • 1 carrot, tiny dice
  • 18 oz plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste  

Mix all of the ingredients together. Refrigerate for two hours. Serve with chips, crackers or toast.


He resisted. And then he tried it. He hated it. That was the second time in one day I fell flat on my face.  


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