Driving along the parkway I’m imagining the backstories of the runners I pass. There’s a lot of them and I’m driving 35 mph, so I don’t have time to get too deep.
First up a runner I call Twinkle Toes. He’s wearing a matched true blue jacket and sleek shiny running pants with a true blue cap. As he’s running he pushes through to the tips of his toes from the pavement. It doesn’t look wrong, but it makes him look light. That and the sleek pants. In his head he’s repeating Portuguese vocabulary and grammar because he’s heading there for a gig in a few weeks. His personal Rosetta Stone practice is interrupted by Thursday’s meeting that failed. He pushes that away and starts to say the foreign words out loud as he runs.
There were big puddles, almost lakes, on the trail near the Zoo. Runner #2 did a back and forth hoppity hop to avoid drowning in one. Her boo is likely finishing off a second mimosa during brunch. She prefers to run alone but ends up feeling a little lonely when they hook up later, one tipsy and one sweaty. Maybe she’ll cut her run short and join Boo.
The next runner I’ll call Cletus. Definitely was an athlete in school, but more in it for the social side. He’s lumbering along in baggy shorts and bare legs and sneakers that have definitely been used. He has a filthy Giants hat pulled down almost over his eyes. Some untamed ends of dark curls poke out underneath the sides near his ears and above his neck. He forces himself to run at least two times a month. Usually concurrent with a hangover. He shakes the marbles around in his skull and feels like if he just keeps going he won’t throw up. It works. For a while.
Then came along the unrelated dogwalkers.
The first man I’m naming Thomas is wearing a red, yellow and green tam. His lanky frame is topped by a silver puffer jacket. He’s accompanied by his lanky Doberman, Diesel. They’re stopped on the trail, facing each other having a terrifically animated conversation. They’re laughing about the joggers that didn’t want to run past them but didn’t have an alternative on the narrow path. One guy ended up detouring from the path by trying to run up the slick hill. He slipped and skidded right to Diesel’s feet. Diesel wasn’t impressed and was unmoved. He turned head to the side–as if to provide embarrassment space– as the guy tried to crabwalk backwards up the hill. Thomas gave the guy a hand up, brushed the leaves from the guy’s shoulder and cheerily waved goodbye. Now man and dog are chuckling at the unnecessary circumnavigation.
Next there was a couple with two dogs. I saw them just after the bridge, and I don’t know how they went around the bridge. I guess the path swung underneath it somewhere. The man handled both leashes. One for the big dog and one for the little dog, a common dog configuration. The big dog was hers. When they moved in together, the BigDog started having anxiety issues. It wasn’t just the pooping in the man’s shoe, but it was that, too. Since she loved the dog before she loved the man, they got a little yappy companion for BigDog. Now both dogs crap in the man’s shoe. But he loves her.
It was a cold day, but I spied a grouping of men in short sleeves running towards the boathouse in the shadow of the Watergate. They had military do’s. They stripped down, not even wearing caps, to show off their strength and fortitude to each other. The one called his mom later and complained about his overly macho colleagues. She listened and said nothing. Turns out that she’s distracted by the dark spot on his Dad’s lung x-ray. She doesn’t want to burden her son with the looming unknowns. Not just yet. She tells her boy to wear his hat next time and not to be worried about the others. They wanted to wear hats, too. I agree with her.
The parkway split away from the path, and so the fuel for my tales ran out, too.