Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hecklers Beware

What is it about the human condition that compels non-runners to holler out their car window at those who do run?

Lately, I’ve taken to running later in the evening because of the August-in-June temperatures that we’ve had in D.C. Despite the later start date, the traffic continues to pile up on the main road of my route. Running against traffic as all smart runners do, it offers a glimpse into the windshields of the poor commuters still riding home from toil. And that in turn elicits these types of responses:
  • The WTF – this is the outstretched arm, open palm, reading lips, “Hey! WTF?” The only appropriate response in my mind is to smile and shout, “Jealous!”
  • The Shout and Drive – this one is a little more cowardly and one I mostly encounter at stop lights; you can feel the eyes on you and almost see the wheels spinning to get out that oh so witty comment. The light turns green, the window comes down, and as they pass, shout: “Run, Forrest!” or “Hey, runner!” Genius.
  • The Whooper – I get this one on long stretches of highway; this is the window down, “Yeeeoooowwwww!” a real blood curdling scream as they speed by at 65 mph.
  • The Fashionista – this is my favorite, it’s the commentary on my running attire; “Nice shorts,” “Who wear’s short-shorts?,” “Put some clothes on,” are the typical fare. Note there are no comments on my shirt. More on that in a second.
"The Ryan-Hall-running-past-the-Wellesley-girls-ear-cock."
I’m fairly confident that if push comes to shove, or rather if it looks like push is coming, I’ll be faster than my cowardly heckler yelling at me from the safety of their car. But rather than get upset and toss up a choice finger or run up the hood of their car as Quenton Cassidy might do, I’ve taken the approach of playing along. It’s nothing terribly witty but enough to throw Johnny Clever off his game.

If the comment or gesture comes from inside the car with the window down, I give them the Ryan-Hall-running-past-the-Wellesley-girls-ear-cock. I also like to pair that with a big shit-eating grin.

If the window is down and the comment is about the length of my shorts, I enjoy yelling back, “In your dreams, Lover.”

I have to say, my favorite and most impulsive response came on a particularly balmy Sunday afternoon. I was two miles into a ten miler and running alongside traffic before descending onto the Big Rocky Run trail. I ran shirtless as I’ve taken to doing in the heat (with sunscreen applied, of course). I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a hairy dude. Reports have gone out that an emaciated sasquatch was roaming the Fairfax woods….

So there I am, shirtless and seventies in my split shorts and not much else, when I notice two guys pointing and laughing as I go. I catch them looking and smirk before pointing at the one in the passenger seat, rubbing my chest in a circular motion and mouthing, “Ohhhh, yeah.” This earned me more laughter, a big thumbs up, and some applause as we went our separate ways.

So, next time you find yourself on the receiving end of some unoriginal taunting, see if you can play along and disarm the less-intelligent…and less speedy.

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