Who wears short shorts?

June 25, 2010

I was thinking more about my transition into becoming, once again, a morning runner.  Recently, I was reminded of one more long-standing “tradition” that is a sub-text to this routine.

There is another morning runner in my neighborhood, a man I have seen running since the early 90’s, when I was a new-comer to Iowa City and mapping out new running routes.  As long as I have been running in Iowa City, I have run into Mr. Short Shorts when I have been out in the morning.

I suppose that the context clues are pretty loud and clear, and so I don’t need to go into great detail to describe his typical running attire?  His shorts, circa 1970s, are shorter than any I would ever be inclined to wear, and he also has on a little belt-pack to hold his music.  It is almost enough to make me smile, to know that he is so predictably decked out.

I say “almost” because this man has one very irritating characteristic that is kind of faux pas in the running world.  He ignores me.

Allow me to explain:  Two runners meet on a path or sidewalk, moving in opposite directions.  Running protocol dictates that the runners nod and/or grunt some kind of acknowledgment of each other.  No need to stop or slow down, they just need to make a gesture of camaraderie of being in the same “club” of runners.  I suppose it’s the runner’s equivalent of the one-finger (ahem, the index finger) farmer wave out on a gravel road?  You just do it and keep moving.

This man has ignored me for nearly 20 years, and I am irritated.  He must recognize me the way I can recognize him from over 200 meters away?  Granted, I’m wearing far more conservative attire, but still.

Needless to say, balance in my universe was restored one morning when I was running up a long hill in the near-dark of an early run.  I was set to turn a corner, my trusty side-kick Josie, who knows my routes and turns better than I do, swinging wide to make the turn without tripping me, when we suddenly came face-to-face with Mr. Short Shorts.  I don’t think was expecting to see us right then and there.

And he now has an alias that I find I am enjoying far too much:  Mr. Screams Like a Little Girl!

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