Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Good talk

With another half marathon coming up in August and plans early this evening, I decided to get my training run in bright and early before work. With the sun out, low humidity and temperatures in the mid-60's, you couldn't ask for a better day for a run. Or hell, to just sleep in with the sun and breeze streaming in through open bedroom windows (let's be honest, that's what I really would have preferred to do until I actually got out there).

As I rounded a bend about three-quarters of a mile into my run, I spotted a lone figure in the distance. On the opposite side of the street was a stocky fellow, leaning nonchalantly against the mailboxes for the complex of 1980's-era condominiums behind him. There wasn't a soul around other than him. In fact, there weren't even any cars parked on the street for as far as the eye could see. It was just him, chilling. Alone. It struck me as odd, even as I plodded close enough to see he was having a smoke. Perhaps he wasn't allowed to smoke in the house or even on the front step lest the smoke waft in through open windows. Perhaps he just dug leaning on mailboxes and making passersby suspicious and uncomfortable. I wasn't worried about violence or confrontation, mind you, but I could tell this guy was going to make shit weird.

Sure enough. "Are you running for me?" he called out as his features came into focus. I could tell he didn't mean it in the leering sense, but still it held kind of a creepy tone, as I imagined him catcalling a young girl out for a run. "Unnnnnggghh... Yeah, baby! Are you running for Daddy? Daddy likes it when you run. Jiggle for Daddy, sweetheart!" No, this wasn't how he meant it, but it still kind of took me aback as an unusual and ill-advised thing to yell at a stranger. Confirming my benign interpretation, he jokingly patted at his belly, as if to indicate he should also be out running. I smiled and chuckled politely, patting my own belly, and responding with something about how that's why I was out there.

Apparently my response was his signal that we were having an actual conversation, as he immediately shifted up into life story gear. "I'm 50 years old, and I used to be a runner..." I missed a huge swath of what he said, as I hadn't broken stride throughout this entire exchange. "...and my girlfriend wants me to take up a hobby..." I was already halfway down the block, and his voice, still yammering, trailed off behind me. I halfheartedly threw up my hand in a wave goodbye, as if to say, "Good talk, mailbox-leaning morning smoke guy who seemed to think a stranger out for a training run was going to interrupt what he was doing to stop and have a conversation with you. Good talk."

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