He’s wearing asics running shoes. They’re neon orange, so you know he’s serious. He glances over at me. I give him the Stink Eye. He starts crying. The race is on.
Sure, he’s only 3 months old (I’m just making that up. I have no idea how to tell baby ages unless you saw off a limb and count the rings, which seems to be frowned upon in polite society.) He’s in a racing stroller that costs more than my 88 Honda. Mom is late 20s and a Serious Runner. The kid? Racing flats, trap door so he doesn’t have to slow down for bathroom breaks, and he obviously isn’t afraid to spew strained spinach if that’s what it takes to beat an old guy.
I pick up the pace. And then. Mom kicks into a gear I vaguely remember from the late 1980s, and they’re gone. The kid looks over his shoulder. How old do you have to be for cognitive recognition that you’re flipping someone the bird?
It’s that sort of run. A sunny, mid-70s take that Northeasters kind of day. Just a throwaway 4 miler on a day when I still feel like I’m dead but I don’t know it (he’s dead he’s dead!) Stop speaking in code language.
I stop at the statue of the dog looking up at the ghost of the Native American. I hope he can see me too. I must be somewhere around here.
As I pause to take his picture, the kid in the $100 racing shoes comes by again. I wish I had some potato chips to throw in his stroller. Hey, kid. Meet my friends the gulls.
I wind it down, vow for the 352,311th time to give up running once and for all.
Or at least always carry some potato chips.
The dog will be there tomorrow. Watching, waiting for me on the other side.
I try to pretend things will get better.
But I can’t even.