the World Champion Phillies (1980, 2008), ill-tempered sports fans (guilty, but we just want ONE Superbowl ring!), soft pretzels, Will Smith, and of course, the movie Rocky. If there were any doubt about the latter, a stop at the Philadelphia Museum of Art will prove it. There, according to one of the events coordinators, tour buses pull up to the curb, dozens of people get out, run up the steps toward the museum, jump up and down in victory as Sylvester Stallone did in the movie Rocky, and run back to the waiting bus, and leave. On my visit this weekend I saw this with my own eyes. I counted eight people within a few minutes, rushing up the steps to reenact this iconic scene. One of those not entirely sane or physically fit people was me.
Understand that the Rocky series (Rocky 3 at the top of the list) are among my favorite movies of all time, from when I was a kid. And since then I have always wanted to run those steps. Not only did I never run up them, I never even walked them. For some inexplicable reason, yours truly, a former art student, never stepped foot inside the museum. I've been in others around the world and the USA but not the one in my own hometown. Not the one made famous in my favorite movies, by one of my favorite actors. I had never seen the iconic Rocky statue from Rocky 3 that Stallone had donated to the city. I was a fraudulent Philadelphian.
Finally this summer, I visited the museum. It was 90 degrees and while I stared at the steps, envisioning rushing up them, I also envisioned passing out from heat stroke at the top and being carted off to the ER. As I was with an out of town friend that day, I didn't think a trip to the hospital would be a good addition to the itinerary. So I took photos of the statue and the Greek-styled museum
and skipped the steps.
But this past Saturday, camera gear in hand and children in tow, over thirty years from Stallone's run, I did it. At age 41. And while I work out 5 times a week, I didn't expect to make it up the steps with my busted knees intact. While my daughter filmed and added commentary, I braved the winter chill and ran those damn steps. Man, there were so many! I took the second half two at a time to finish quicker, though not quite as earnestly as Rocky had. I got to the top what seemed like 4 hours later and looked down at my kids jumping up and down, happy that I had done something that I had talked about doing since I was 10 years old. Then I tasted the lactic acid build up in my mouth and felt my heart pounding in my throat. Wow, I'm going to have a heart attack because I waited until I was middle-aged to do this, I thought. I slumped against the wall and waited until my heart made its way back to its proper location. Ten minutes later I walked back down then up again after filming my daughter do the run, but with ease. Teenagers!
So now I can say that I've been to the museum, run up the steps and seen the statue. I don't know how much of a real Philadelphian that makes me, especially when the guy at the bottom of the steps was selling fake Philly soft pretzels along with Rocky t-shirts, but it made me a real Rocky fan and I got to cross off an item on my bucket list.
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