Former 2:24 marathoner, now pushing 50 and reduced to a pitiable spastic shuffle • Magazine writer, book editor and author, and commentator on distance running since 1999; mostly a crank since approximately 2016 and possibly long before • Coach and adviser of less pessimistic perambulators • Dobie-mix owner Sentence-fragment impresario

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Fuckin' weirdo

I found myself looking at a fuckin' weirdo yesterday during my midday run, and what qualified the person as a weirdo (for present purposes only) is that she was looking back at me through a phone held up to and obscuring some of her face, in plain view of various others, ostentatiously following and apparently recording my movements for over a minute.

I was trotting north up the sidewalk along the eastern side of Manhattan Avenue in Boulder at about ten past noon, about halfway through an easy, clockwise-ish 25-minute run with Rosie, looping around the western side of East Boulder Park where the middle school and its track sit; in summer and non-school hours, these expanses are effectively extensions of the same park. This is my usual midday "Just in case I can't get Rosie out tonight" thing these days. Sometimes we do this twice, although we often run from home too. But the park has a big pond where Rosie can swim or cool off, a dedicated dog park if I want to take her in there to socialize, access to the unpaved part of the South Boulder Creek Trail, etc. It's flat, and if I want to I can do biggish loops entirely on grass, so Rosie's paws and my knee both like it there. Oh, and squirrels. And a big open field where I can set her off her leash with little worry so we can play fetch. It's almost perfect for my current recreational/exercise needs. The northwest corner of the complex sits about eight-tenths of a mile from my house, and that's where I usually park, just north of the track on a street called Tenino. People do this all the time in this neighborhood, all day long, so I don't know what was so special about me today.

I was about to turn right onto Tenino when I saw a human-like shape in the rough form of an upright diamond standing -- actually, planted is a better word -- on the other side of the street, facing me. Beside it was a large, off-white heap of fur. What was actually happening is that a tallish yet somehow squat-looking woman with reddish hair who appeared to be about my age was standing there in a blue shirt and bright yella running shorts, filming me with a cell phone or at least convincingly imitating the act, and the reason she looked like a diamond...okay, very bad comparison. The reason she looked like a parallelogram of some sort, at least at first, is that her elbows were out to the side because of how she was holding her phone. The whitish heap of fur next to her was a large dog, which did not project the appearance of relishing any aspect of this interlude. In fact, I got the impression that the dog didn't really require a walk, or a stand, and that the person taking it on one simply had nothing better to do.

After I first noticed her and saw that she was slowly pivoting like some meaty, pigeon-toed droid to follow my linear progress, I stared back for about three seconds, then bared the anus in the lower half of my face and gave her the finger, expertly holding the gesture in place with virtually no vertical oscillation even as I ran on. Gyroscopic roving obscenities, my forte. I took the right turn onto Tenino, and reached my parked car after about another 100 meters. I tossed a weary tennis ball Rosie had found inside the passenger window. When I turned back, the fuckin' weirdo was still playing spontaneous amateur short documentary filmmaker, or whatever.

I still had another mile and a half or so to get to my randomly chosen minimum time commitment, so I kept going east, then turned south at the far eastern edge of the school property. The weirdo had crossed Manhattan and was now walking south along the same strip of sidewalk I'd been on going the other way when approaching her. She was now making an ostentatious display of calling or talking to someone on her phone, which was probably bullshit. I have to hope so, because if she actually called someone to report her own fuckin' weirdness, she's too weird to even want to preserve her freedom to wander the streets with a morose-looking and surely borrowed pet, being weird.

See, despite the undeniable contrivances and theatrics in play here, this to me is just as goddamn weird as someone filming me and my dog on the sly. Pretending to be a fuckin' "I SEE YOU, SUCKA!" weirdo in this manner itself implies that something is really off with this person's social wiring. You don't convince the world someone is a voyeur by standing on the sidewalk masturbating and grinning every time the "suspect" happens to amble by. You can convince the world that someone is a dipshit by committing a de facto act of stalking at high bright noon in a public setting, that "someone" being yourself.

On the whole, something tells me that this production wasn't a mission to gather material for either the Department of Justice or a lady-spank-bank; I'm thinking the weirdo primarily wanted me to note this behavior, and perhaps to spread the word that people using parks and roads for their intended purposes in the Keewaydin Meadows neighborhood of Boulder might want to reconsider their behavior. So, if you are one of the hundreds of people who live in East Boulder and use that park and its environs for any of its intended purposes virtually every day, someone might be trying to discourage you for unclear reasons. I mean, I can't see how it would be just me. So watch for the person described above standing on the corner of Santa Clara Place, not yet peddling religion or conspiracy literature to passerby, but nevertheless painting a portrait of someone best given a wide berth.

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