The other day I has was walking around the Circle to cool-down after a run and one of my neighbors waved me down and asked me if he could ask a couple of questions. No, this is not a verbatim re-hash of the conversation, but it follows pretty much what I remember us saying and the intent of what was said.
I gave him that puzzled look you give someone when you are not quite sure what is going on and went “Sure”.
Now, my neighbor is shall we say a bit red neckish around the edges, a few years younger than me and a decent guy, who would help me out if I needed it, so I wasn’t sure about what he was going to ask.
The first question he asked was “Harold this is something I have always wanted to ask you, but never got around to. Why do you wear such gawd awfully bright and ugly sneakers and t-shirts most of the time?”
I laughed so hard I almost pee’d myself. My neighbor has always chided and picked on me about my “odd” and brightly colored shoes over the years. He looked a bit indignant and I quickly asked him how far away could he see me when I run in the bright colors.
He said “I can see you all the way down to your place or when you are coming over the top of the hill.”
I just said, “That is why I wear the bright and ugly colors…I want to be seen, you have seen the way people drive around heah, I don’t want to get hit by them. When my running shoes are moving drivers are more likely to pickup on the flourescent orange, yellow or other bright colors flying around, than a black or gray. Same thing with the shirts.”
“If I wear dull colors that blend in with the side of the road, cars and trucks tend to not see me until the last minute and I’ve almost been hit more than a few times.”
“I would rather be seen, than be road splat.”
My neighbor smiled and said “Yeah, I suppose that makes a bunch of sense, just the same as they make those town and state road crews wear the vests and stuff, isn’t it.”
I said. “Pretty much”.
We commiserated and complained a bit more about how bad the drivers are in the area and how much more traffic there is going through now compared to how it was a few years ago.
“What do those things you wear leggings over your lower legs do, besides looking funny on a guy?”
Chuckling I said. “Over the years, I have had a lot of problems with my calves and Achilles, what you call leggings, I call calf compression sleeves when I wear them, my legs don’t hurt as much. So I wear them when they are bothering or if I am going to run faster. Yeah, I know they look weird, but they work for me.”
He laughed a little and said “I still think they look kind of girly on ya”.
We laughed and talked some more about how it sucks to get old and some of the aches and pains that we have accumulated along the way.
Finally, the question that I had been kind of waiting for.
“Harold, why do you run so f-ing much?”
I looked at the neighbor and I didn’t want to piss him off and say because I don’t want a bad case of dun-laps disease or some other smart-arse remark that instantly came to mind. My neighbor is only a little taller than me, but probably weighs 50-60 pounds more, so his belly does tend to dun lap over his belt by a bit too much.
I responded “You want the long or short answer?”
Laughing a bit. “Really, I just like the way that I feel when I am running and at one point when I injured my knee a few years back, I ballooned up over 200 pounds and after I got it scoped, I promised myself that I would never allow myself to get that out of shape again. So I run a lot.”
He grimaced a little at that and quickly looked down towards his belly for a couple of seconds.
“You know Harold, you are something else, as old as you are and still out here doing this shit is pretty impressive. I know that I can’t run, it bothers my knees too much and after work I am just too tired to do a lot more than I have to around the house.”
“Naw, running might be great for you, but it sure as hell ain’t good for me!”
We both laughed a little, talked a bit more about the weather, what they are going to do down the road with the old barn and what kind of housing project they were going to put in down in the hallow towards the old cemetery.
The whole conversation probably took less than 5-10 minutes, but I walked away with smile and kind of shaking my head a little. Don’t get me wrong, I get along with my neighbor quite well. He is a nice enough guy, who means well, but comes across wrong without meaning to at times.
It took us quite a long while to get to the point where we could hold a good conversation. His perspectives on politics and a bunch of other things are a bit different to say the least. However, we don’t have to agree on things to get along, good enough to hold a decent conversation. We just tend to avoid some of the third rail stuff.
I do know that if I needed some help with something that he would be there to help and I am pretty sure that he knows that I would be for him as well. Which is in my opinion is the important thing.
Although I do have to chuckle a bit, since we talked that day, I have noticed him walking his dog a bit more often, which he says it is his secret weight loss plan. I told that pretty soon he would be running past me, he just winked and said –
“You never know.”