It took weeks of verbal sparring to get Matt Jeronimo and John Curtis—two bartenders at the Hungry Cat—to the point where they needed to step outside to settle their argument. But on Monday, dressed only in their lightest gym outfits, the pair met up on Selma Avenue—a quiet block just outside of Hungry Cat—to finish the argument for good.
It all started as a casual conversation that was inspired by a friendly regular at the bar. He had asked about their past glory days, but soon after, the two co-workers were soon disagreeing. This was not a political or philosophical dispute. It was a different kind of argument that could not be settled by words. What was needed was physical proof.
The issue was, quite simply, who was the faster runner.
Both men were sprinters for their high school track teams. After comparing past race times and current exercise programs, Curtis didn’t hesitate to tell Jeronimo who was the faster runner. But Jeronimo refused to accept Curtis’ claim that he was the faster runner. Jeronimo wanted proof. “I threw down the white glove,” he explained just minutes before the race. “I suggested we do something like a 100 meter sprint.”
Curtis—a man unafraid of physical trials (he competed on the reality show “Wipe Out“)–was slow to agree to the foot race. After weeks of Jeronimo’s unabashed call to action, however, Curtis finally consented.
But by Monday at 2:45, some 15 minutes after the proposed start time of the race, it appeared that Curtis wasn’t going to show. Was Jeronimo concerned? Jeronimo pushed back his hair with one hand. “We work together behind the bar tonight. What are you going to do?”
Jeronimo insisted he wasn’t interested in winning bragging rights from a forfeit. “I still want to know who’s faster,” the brown haired bartender said as he waited for his competitor at the Hungry Cat’s bar and nursed a glass of iced orange juice.
At three o’clock, Curtis arrived, dressed for a foot race. Jeronimo’s face lit up as he eyed his sneaker-clad foe. “I gotta tell you, I broke a couple of ribs on the Fourth,” Jeronimo admitted as he lifted his sleeveless running shirt to expose a dark purple bruise under his right nipple.
Curtis stopped mid-stride and asked with true concern, “Sure you still want to do this?” Jeronimo nodded, solemnly. “I’m just gonna have to run through it. Nothing you can do.”
A camera toting blogger (yours truly) and a restaurant regular (my husband) marked the beginning and end points of the race. With nothing more than a friendly “on your mark, get set, go!” the race began.
A black-vested parking attendant and several curious passersby watched from the sidewalk as the two men sprinted down the center of Selma Avenue. Curtis’ lean form and tight running gait quickly gave him a measurable lead. His pained competitor grimaced as he struggled to keep up.
Within seconds, the race was over.
Curtis wasn’t a boastful winner. He smiled and offered a friendly set of knuckles to his co-worker for a fist bump. For the first time in what may have been weeks, the two co-workers smiled at each other with relief. The argument was over. The fastest man won.
As the two runners caught their breath as they retraced their route down the short distance of Selma, Jeronimo sighed with frustration. “Man, I just couldn’t find that other gear.” Then, without a moment of hesitation, Jeronimo added “Best two out of three?”
Curtis laughed, but it was clear there wouldn’t be another race any time soon.