The phrase is from a 1950s kiddie show sponsored by Buster Brown shoes and hosted first by Smilin’ Ed McConnell and then, more famously, by Andy Devine. At some point in every program Ed or Andy would wander over to a box on a table and chant the magic words, bringing forth the sound of a broken guitar string, a puff of smoke and Froggy, a malicious spirit who would croak, “Hi ya kids, hi ya, hi ya!”, before going on to say or do (or to get someone else to say or do) something devilish.
“Pluck your magic twanger” passes through my mind much more often than I’d like it to, because it’s the first non-expletive that presents itself when I tweak some once-reliable body part. The magic twanger that was plucked last week was my left achilles, which actually hasn’t been reliable for decades, but of which I am always deeply solicitous. My only explanation is that Froggy did it, the little bastard. I’m back to walking now, but won’t be able to shuffle for a few weeks, at best.
Which leads me to this recent article in the New York Times about running in the lousy winter weather that’s on the horizon: how to make yourself do it and why you should. (I love the Times. “My coach, Tom Fleming...” was one of the best American marathoners of the ’70s, and a two-time winner of the New York Marathon, back when it was run around and around Central Park. Like many runners in those days, we wore the same shoes, New Balance 320s.)
Unlike some of those quoted in the article, I’ve never thought of any of my winter runs as “epic,” merely &^%$#@! cold and slippery, but I have always enjoyed running in slop for two reasons: it makes me feel deliciously smug, and it feels so great to finish, pull off the wet sweaties, climb into a hot shower, and eventually emerge into the world clean, warm, and virtuous. Unless Froggy has made me forget to tape my nipples.