HAHAHAH! Oh, man. Life is so funny, how things turn out, the things that make an impression.

When I was in first grade, I saw the movie "Billie" starring Patty Duke. It had been on the big screen a few years previously, and finally made its way to TV, and to me. Oh mah goodness, I thought it was the best thing I had ever seen. The basic plot of this lighter-than-air movie told the story of Billie, a teenage social misfit and tomboy who, with the help of a rock n' roll beat in her head, smoked everyone on the running track.

MY SISTAH! Oh, I BELIEVED this movie, I did! I was absolutely POSITIVE that her beat-propelled feet were real. I understood what she was saying and feeling about music, how it was in you and could just FIRE you up. I decided that I would put her legacy into action. I was going to be special.

In first grade, gym class consisted of little other than free play and Duck Duck Goose, but I was going to take it seriously from now on. I found a little red-and-white Carter's short set from home, brought it into school on the next gym day, and announced to the teacher that I needed to change into my "gym clothes" for class. Well, I can only imagine what she really thought -- probably some combination of OH JESUS WHAT DRAMA NOW and AW CUTE -- but she let me go to the girls' bathroom and change, of course the only first grader to do so. I strode out onto the gym floor, filled with strutting confidence that I had "The Beat" and would be better, faster, and stronger than anyone else at 4 Square, Simon Says, or kickball. Rock and roll would not, could not let me down. It was TRUTH and ALL. My red Keds sneakers would be like flying flames on the floor.

I remember trying so hard to "hear" this magic beat in my head, the one that would make these athletic feats as easy as pie, the secret of my success known to no one but me. Oh, I tried and I tried and concentrated and furrowed my little brow and BELIEVED SO HARD. There was a beat, probably just the one I had heard in the movie, and I put my best effort in. I did this without fail for WEEKS, changing into my little outfit, thinking of drums, and changing back into my school clothes, uncatchable, winning.

But one day, the unthinkable happened during Dodgeball. Wily and focused, beat-fueled, clothes-proud, I had been the winner weeks in a row. And then, out of nowhere, I got a big red rubber ball to the chest. BAM!




Oh, I was crushed. The Beat had let me down. It was supposed to be fail-proof, said the movie, unless you got distracted and fell in love with a boy or something. In total shame and dejection, I sat down on the red line on the gym floor with the others, head in my hands. I couldn't believe it. I think I started crying sitting there, all Bad-Sport-like, with a hot red face and a Big Lip.

I stopped wearing the silly clothes, stopped trying to hear a beat that wasn't really mine and didn't really work, and still kicked ass at Dodgeball...most of the time.

BUT! BUT!!!!!!

The legacy of Billie LIVES!!!!!

All this time later, this far down the line,what makes me be able to run? What makes me need to go faster, keep going when I am exhausted, keep trying to go farther than I did the time before?

Well, of course. It is The Beat, translated now to the rock n' roll loaded on my iPod. It is magic. There is no other answer. I could never ever have started running or kept running without it. I can be ready to give up, and a song comes up on shuffle and I grin and all of a sudden my legs feel light, itching to go, no fatigue, no pain, and I go go go.

So, thank you, you silly movie. There was something to you all along.