Some people think running is boring. You’re out there. No music, no friends, no cell phone. Just you and the road, or the trail. What could possibly happen?
It was a cold, seriously cold Xmas morning and I was out for a 17 mile run. This was many years ago. I was still in college. My 17 mile route took me down rt 37 in Braintree and then hooked down by Circuit City (R.I.P), and past the office park that sits beside the Braintree Mall. As I rounded the corner into the office park I looked up and saw two middle aged men hovering over a briefcase. The moment they noticed me they both stood bolt straight, snapped the case shut and booked it for their cars. There was something about their body language that screamed ‘oh shit it’s the cops.’ They hastily ran to their cars and I ran across the mall parking lot towards Common street thinking ‘What in the hell was that? A drug deal? Was it a black market tickle me Elmo sale (that was the hot toy that Christmas)?’
‘Maybe it was the briefcase from Pulp Fiction?’
The contents of the briefcase (both in the movie and irl) will remain a mystery. My gut tells me cocaine.
This wouldn’t be the only time something like this happened while I’m out for a run. I’ve seen things. Crazy things. Things you wouldn’t believe. Ask around, I’m not the most observant guy. When I run I get tunnel vision. My mother once boxed my ears for running past a group of her friends and not saying hello.
‘Right by them?’
‘Same side of the street.’
My defense: I honestly never saw them. And that’s the truth. I’m sorry Mrs. McKinnon. Tunnel vision.
In Greek tragedy it is often the blind characters who see things clearest. So art imitates life, for even I, the unobservant one, mr Tunnel Vision, have noticed some crazy shit while out for a run. My running routes take me through wood and trail, down ill trodden paths where people think they’re alone, often early in the morning or late at night (when freaks come out). Sometimes I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sometimes the wrong place at the right time. Examples?
Imagine you’re a young man, desperately in love. You have the conversation with her father, plunk down two months salary on a ring and then you wait. This moment has to be special. You wait until one summer night you’re strolling on the Charles River. You’re all alone, hand in hand with your lady love, the sun is setting on the far side of the river, a brilliant pink and orange. This is the moment. You take a knee, reach in your pocket, start that speech you’ve rehearsed a hundred times and then… what’s that sound? Heavy breathing? Feet skimming across the pavement. You’re not alone. There’s a runner, just in time to blow up your perfect moment.
This happened to me twice on one run. One proposal by the Hatch shell and another one by the exercise station near BU. Beautiful hallmark moments ruined by this third wheel running past and muttering ‘sorry’. The looks I got that night… How’s that Southwest Airlines commercial go?
When it comes to romance, other people’s romance, you’re never in the right place at the right time. Either you’re ruining the moment (proposals) or you’re ruining the moment… I’ve run past people in the moment (catch my drift?). One of these people happened to be a cop.
How do I know he was a cop? As mentioned I’m no detective myself but his car was right there, and his uniform was on. Hell, his squad car was parked right there in the woods.
I ran away as fast as I could because I live my life by three rules.
- Don’t play cards against someone named for a city.
- Don’t try and win a marital argument with logic.
- When you catch an officer of the law in commission of a crime look the other way and hope that karma returns the favor.
How’s that Southwest commercial go again?
Call shenanigans if you want (I neglected to get the badge #) but I was there, I wouldn’t make this up to impress the dozens, literally dozens, of people who read my blog.
You want funny? How about the time I finished a 20 mile run on the Mugar way. I was wrecked, could hardly walk straight, sweat poring out of me, salt rings staining my clothes and up walks this beautiful woman. One of the most beautiful women I’ve ever laid eyes on. So beautiful that as she approaches you swear you heard Etta James sing ‘At Last’ somewhere in the background. So I take a moment to fix my hair and then remember that I just ran 20 miles. In heat. Not even the guys from ‘Queer eye’ could have made me presentable. I looked like Daffy Duck with his beak shot off.
And she had her boyfriend with her. A girl like this has to have a stud for a boyfriend, right?
He was like 5′ 6″, weighed an emaciated 120, balding with a comb over. He was carrying two Whole Foods grocery bags for her (so that’s how it is). How the hell does this chump get a girl like that? I looked closer, I had to see him, learn his secret. I looked into his beady little eyes and got my answer. Because I knew him. You know him too. Here’s his picture.
That’s right. I saw Christian Bale and his girlfriend. She looked like you’d expect Batman’s girlfriend would look. He was in town filming ‘the Fighter’. He won an oscar for playing a drug addict former boxer. He looked the part.
Speaking of actors, you ever see an actor in something and just hate them. I’ve always thought the guy who played Robin Williams’ son in ‘Birdcage’ was annoying. I saw him out for a run once. He’d tripped, fallen, and was rubbing his knee in pain. Whatever. Don’t know him, may be nice for all I know, but I hate that guy.
On another eventful Braintree run I cut off a guy trying to park his jeep in his driveway. The driver honked at me. I’ll admit now that I was clearly in the wrong, but in the moment flipped him off anyway. I get horns all the time (most not my fault) and before I can even think out flies my middle finger. It’s a habit, a defense mechanism. One time a friend saw me running and gave me friendly ‘hello’ honk. Out came my middle finger. I thought it was a driver messing with me. Whoops. Thought you were someone else. Don’t take it personal.
So yeah, he honks (justified), instinct takes over, the middle finger comes flying out and the driver takes the time to roll down his window and tell me to ‘Go F myself’.
The driver was one Donny Wahlberg. When I realized what I’d done I stopped, apologized and told him what a big fan I was. ‘Hanging Tough’ is a master work.
Just kidding. I kept running.
I’ve seen things… couples fighting in parked cars, kids smoking weed behind their parent’s house (and hiding it like I’m gonna narc them), teenage beer bashes, drug deals, movie stars, movie sets (The Town, Ted, some zoo movie), commercials, car accidents (a car took a dive off a 15 foot bridge and miraculously no one was hurt), trysts, proposals, drug deals (I think), Moose, turtles, coyotes, deer, hunters (never been shot at but my friend Steve Mac has).
All this is just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve seen things man. And some people think running is boring.
Don’t believe me? Sign up for a race, get out on the road, run down some back alleys and short cut paths. See for yourself.
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