I've been MIA for several days because we went to PA to celebrate my mom's 60th birthday. At the same time, I've simply been a wasteland for good blog material. It's so bad I actually wrote a post on the weird tan lines I've been cultivating this Spring, and I might end up posting it, but thankfully Saturday's long run gave me something better.
Today's topic? Sketchy men who approach you when you're with your spouse and talk you up anyway.
I grew up near the capitol of PA (that's Harrisburg, not Philly), which is like Pittsburgh on a smaller scale. I do mean that in the best possible way. Central PA has a midwestern kind of feel to it, with people who will strike up a conversation about the sorry state of PA highways with any old stranger in the local Sheetz. Words like "y'uns" make their way into the lexicon, and shopping at Walmart alongside a Pennsylvania Dutch family is par for the course.
I really like the easy friendliness of people there, but my six years in Cambridge earned me a different social style to go with the pricey diploma molding in my basement. I developed an aloof, introverted city demeanor at the same time that I cultivated a certain comfort being around crazy people on the street. If you spend enough time in a city with a high ratio of intellectuals, you find yourself with a considerable proportion of people who talk to themselves while they wait with you for the T. (Xenia surely knows what I mean--not because she's nuts, but because she went to school near Cambridge.) It doesn't shake me, but I'm not exactly going to invite them out for tapas.
So when I go back to PA, the casual chattiness of strangers is not familiar, but I can get myself out of a weird situation.
Saturday morning, Brian and I headed over to the path along the Susquehanna river to do our long runs together. He's training for the San Francisco marathon in July and had 11 miles on the schedule. Ironically, I'm training for half a marathon but had 14 miles on the schedule. We would start out together and meet back at the car at about the same time, since my last four miles would be at half-marathon pace. (Yeah, you heard me. I'm. Faster.)
We went to use the bathrooms before starting our run, but I decided to go back to the car to ditch my long-sleeve shirt. On the way to the car, we smiled to a guy standing on some steps who had seen us come up them a few minutes before. This obviously means that we need to chat. Two passings = new best friends.
Brian and I are fairly sure that Mr. Sketchy followed us back to our car because when we got there, there he is next to us. His first utterance? Not "Hi."
"So you guys run marathons or what?"
My response is a cordial "Yes."
"Let me ask you guys, why do you run marathons?"
Okay, well sure, let's stand here for the next four hours so I can give you an exegesis on why I run marathons. Even though he apparently just followed us to our car to chat us up, I don't think Mr. Sketchy was looking to mug or abduct us. I'm just a trained New Englander now. Which means I don't talk to anyone, except myself.
So I tried not to be rude, but I wasn't going to stick around any longer than necessary. "How much time do you have?" I joked nervously.
My kind, southern-raised husband, however, explained the psychological benefits of running, pursuing a physical challenge, and accomplishing a goal. Needless to say, I gave Brian a bemused look as he revealed to Mr. Sketchy his stress level and need for psychological release.
"I run marathons so I can eat whatever I want," I said, trying to hasten our chit chat. He did not seem like the right audience for my personal narrative on marathoning. It all goes back to my childhood and persistent feelings of inadequacy... Yeah, not so much. Let's just keep it light, please.
And here it comes: "You look like you can eat whatever you want anyway. I'm more likely to throw myself off a bridge for excitement," says Mr. Sketchy in a beautiful demonstration of the fine art of the non-sequitor.
Gotta go. Nice chatting, but I got a thing.
Don't care if husband is here to prevent the guy from throwing me in the trunk of his car and taking me to a pre-dug grave for girls who look like they can eat whatever they want. I'd say it's about time for that 14-miler to get started.
But we were nice as we took off at a somewhat-faster-than-normal jog to get on our way. I'm hoping that Mr. Sketchy did not indeed throw himself off a bridge while we were gone, but I am quite happy that he was not waiting by our car when we returned to ask us how our run went and if we'd like to consider a menage a trois.
And in case any of you are wondering, I did not share my blog URL with him.