...my daily four-mile walk. I start earlier every day, but am still a sodden wreck by the time I'm done. Temperature and humidity in the low 80s will do that to you. Me, anyway.
I feel optimistic when I walk. The endorphins kick in , and I can actually think about what I would do with the $2.9 million house overlooking the ocean as I pass it (lose the poofy fountain in the courtyard, replace the cheesy fencing, expand the garage) without feeling stupid, and not let the $899,000 price for a cottage across the street from it nauseate me.
I watch the runners. They must take classes to learn the grunts, groans, grimaces and gestures they make. Head shakes like those of a boxer who has just taken a hard right hand to the jaw, flailing arms, slopping bottled water over their heads as they run...each one looks like their next step will be the last. Not wanting to look like that gives me a good excuse for not running.
Most of the walkers are friendly enough. I recognize some who clearly make this a daily routine as I now do. Many, like me, are casual about it, dressing in random shorts and t-shirts. A few opt for spandex and "message" shirts (the shirt with a VW logo on it I wore today sent no message; shirts from fitness centers and marathons -- which they clearly did not compete in -- are message shirts), along with headbands and iPods.
Some mommies are pushing high-tech strollers designed so they can be controlled with one hand while mommy keep the golden retriever's leash in the other hand. California, you know.
But among the varied people who are out there working up a sweat (everything from a guy with full dreadlocks to guys from the local fire station to ancients who make better progress than their appearance would suggest), there is one group that remains resolutely aloof from and does not waste its collective energy by greeting (or even smiling at) their fellow exercise-o-nauts:
Women. Specifically, women in the 20-to-40 age group, and more specifically, those who are, at least by my standards, reasonably attractive. To a woman, they adopt a hard stay-the-hell-away-from-me look, often accented by dark sunglasses, and walk with a posture that looks -- if I may snitch a line from the late Kurt Vonnegut -- as if they have a pickle up their ass.
What's up with that?
Oh, they chatter away to each other, but any males in the vicinity might as well not waste the energy it takes to be minimally sociable.
No "safety" issue is involved here. These are not dark alleys; rather, they are wide sidewalks beside a busy street. No one seems to be more than 50 feet away from other walkers/joggers/runners. There are ample police patrols. It's broad-freekin'-daylight. I can't remember ever seeing any flashers, mutterers-of-foul-words or other deviates in the area.
And it's not just me. I mean, I shower and put on clean clothes before I walk and, until you look closely, am not all that much less attractive than any of the other men out getting their exercise. I don't sweat much more than anyone else, either. And I can't help but notice other guys getting the same non-responses.
This fits with my theory that many women want to be hit on, want guys to get weak in the knees over them, but then turn around and loudly proclaim us sexist creep jerks for doing so.
That kills the endorphin rush dead, Jim.
What the hell. Maybe it is me.
15 hours ago