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Saturday, July 5, 2008


He was wearing brand new Nike shoes as he ran through Washington Square Park. The rest of his running attire consisted of an ill-considered pair of jeans (who runs in jeans?) and a sweatshirt. It was 70 degrees in San Francisco. No one needs a sweatshirt to run in San Francisco in 70 degree weather.

His sweatshirt was grey, and emblazoned across the front was "Massena New York".

Where is Massena?

Ask your friends from New York. They probably couldn't tell you. A Google search reveals it to be spitting distance to Canada, near an infamous Mohawk reservation and at the intersection of the borders of Canada and the U.S., of Ontario, Quebec, and New York, of Europe and Indian Country.

Why was he running? Why was he weaving around the homeless, the hippies, the high-schoolers, and the high schoolers, laying out in various prone positions in the park? Why cross the park, diagonally from Powell to Stockton instead of going around it?

Where are you going in blue jeans and a sweatshirt from a place no one knows about?

I like to think that he was on an urgent errand. That perhaps his mother was visiting from that Mohawk reservation where Indian Country meets Europe, where English meets French and the U.S. meets Canada. That he was out in San Francisco playing tourist because she was visiting.

I like to think that he was running because as part of the visit they had taken a double-decker bus tour of the City, narrated by an impossible-to-understand tour guide with a muffling microphone. And that on this tour his daughter, her granddaughter, threw a 2-hours-past-naptime freakout, one so bad that they had to disembark, he, his mother, his daughter, and his wife, at Union Square instead of staying on board until the tour ended at Pier 39.

I like to think that he knew he needed to get back to Pier 39 as quickly as possible, pick up their car, and then pick up the girls at Union Square so that his daughter could fall asleep on the long drive home.

I like to think he sprinted up Powell from Union Square, quickly drenching his undershirt, and that he knew this would happen and that's why he kept the sweatshirt on, even though it was emblazoned with the name of a town no one had ever heard of.

I like to think he made it almost all the way to the top of the hill before he had to start walking, out of breath, through Chinatown.

I like to think he jogged down through Chinatown, thrusting the shin-splints out of his mind, because he knew he had to get the car as fast as possible, because his daughter needed to sleep.

I like to think he thought about hurdling the homeless man snoring on the grass because that would have been a perfect movie moment and he loves perfect movie moments.

I like to think he made great time to Pier 39, and that he arrived exhausted, panting, and parched.

I like to think he was running across Washington Square Park in new shoes, blue jeans, and a sweatshirt that read "Massena New York" because his daughter was crying.

Because that was a pretty stupid jogging outfit he was wearing.


Kristen said...

I'm sure that was exactly it. Because as a runner I can tell you that no matter how old or tattered or salt-sweat stained they are, the clothes I run in cannot be mistaken for anything other than running clothes. Whatever his reason for running like that, I'll bet it will be a few days before he's able to walk correctly.

kittenpie said...

Wait a minute... why does Massena NY sound so familiar? Oh.

Aunt Becky said...


Whit said...

Run, Backpack Dad, run!

Whit said...

I was going to add that you should change this blog to Jogging Dad, but I didn't want to ruin the movie moment.

Tacky Princess said...

I love it. Every now and then, I see someone running in attire like that, and I wonder, too. Not that I have any cause to wonder myself, as I am not a runner by any shape or form. Far from it. I'm more the poser. Wear the attire but don't do the activity. Ha! But what is it with the folks who go running in inappropriate gear? I don't get it either. A guy at my husband's old office used to go for a run -- in his full office wear -- over lunch. Every day. He must have serious problems. They were required to wear a tie and everything, and this guy just tucked it inside the middle button of his shirt. Very strange indeed.

But your explanation? Far more interesting. Loved the shrugging off the shin splints. Hate those. :-)

Ali said...

jeans? jogging? seriously?

i can't get over the guys who show up to my softball games in JEANS. does that not get a little uncomfortable on the, um, nards?

Mandy said...

Well told. An epic journey worthy of a slowmo movie moment.

Backpacking Dad said...

Kristen: yeah. I'm a little raw now.

kittenpie: oh what?

aunt becky: :}

whit: changing the name to Jogging Dad would require a lot more jogging.

tacky princess: shin splints have been the bane of my running existence for 15 years.

Anonymous said...

I love that dudes need a story behind an action ... my husband has a story for why everyone does everything ... and it's always completely outrageous.

Badass Geek said...

I'd like to think that you need another vacation, because you read way too much into that runner guy.

Maybe he was running to the mall to get proper running attire?