at the park

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Thursday, June 15, 2006
When I first started walking every day, I wandered hither and yon trudging across busy streets and into new neighborhoods. For the last few months I have settled into a routine where I walk up to the local park, then walk around inside the park. It's nice because there are trees (now with leaves!) so when it rains I don't get that wet and if it's sunny I don't get that hot, I don't have to worry about traffic, and I can watch the many dogs that are there every day freak out with joy as they chase disgustingly slobbery tennis balls and the most skilled dog-evading squirrels around. There are also other people there. Just like anyplace, there is a whole park subculture and hierarchy of customs, some of which I am still figuring out. (some runners are v. smiley/wavey, other ones are... not.)

After a while I began to recognize the regulars (well, the clockwise regulars). Since I always have my ipod on, I am more of a nod and smile person than a stop and chat person. This is helpful when I feel like making up histories for people -- no pesky FACTS to ruin my fun. (I realize that this is probably pathological in some way. Whatever, is what I say to that.) Mainly, Park People come in two categories -- runners or with dog. There is some overlap, but not that much. Here are some that I have come to recognize.

The Philosopher -- (with dog). The philosopher is tall and thin and wears his grey hair in a long ponytail. In the winter, he wears a cape and a deerstalker cap. Okay, okay, he wears a nylon jacket and a deerstalker cap. In the spring/summer he wears... a straw boater! But his natty headgear is not where he gets his name. That would be from the ever present PIPE. He also seems to stand around and talk A LOT.

Garden Gnome -- (runner) I worried that I wouldn't recognize the Garden Gnome when he shed the red hooded sweatshirt he ran in for all of March and April. No worries! The long pointy beard seems to be enough of a clue. (I feel compelled to point out that the Garden Gnome has always been very nice to me, unlike...)

Goldilocks -- (with dog/walker) I know they say that people look like their dogs. I find this to generally be UNTRUE, but there are instances... I'm not saying Goldilocks is unattractive or dog-like, I'm just saying that she and her golden retriever have exactly the same hairstyle and color.

Derek Zoolander -- (runner) the park version of DZ has a leather man of the Village People mustache, but if this guy doesn't practice "Blue Steel" in front of the mirror at least 200 times a day, I will eat my sneakers.

the Running Man -- (with dog -- kidding! runner). I would guess that the Running Man is in his late 50's early 60's. He wears a black sweat suit and runs, flat-out, the whole time he is in the park. He doesn't look like a runner, but he is. The only time I ever saw the Running Man stop running was when he went to give the Dog Catcher (literal, I'm afraid) a piece of his mind. This was two minutes after the Running Man said his first and only words to me: "Can you believe our tax dollars are paying for this?"

OCD Spaniel --(actual dog) Poor dog. At first I just thought he was chasing squirrels, but it turns out he was running to, and then around every tree in the park. He was very specific about the order. I guess I shouldn't pity him since he was clearly having a good, if sort of manic, time.

The Stage Parents -- (dog people) this retired couple has the cutest sheltie ever. The dog likes squirrels, but not nearly as much as they like pointing them out to her and giving her a nudge in the right direction. I am starting to think that they're the ones who really want to chase squirrels, but they haven't quite worked out how to do it themselves without raising eyebrows.

HRH the Duchess of Perambulator -- imagine the queen mother. Now imagine the queen mother in a mismatched sweat suit, birkenstocks, and a crocheted pink bowler hat. Now imagine her pushing around a stroller with the world's fattest dachshund in it. no, really!

There are Many More, but I will save The Patrician and my theory about his furniture being built from bricks of $100 dollar bills for another day.
3 comments on "at the park"
  1. So, do you think that yo uare somehow in the minority by making up people's personal histories? I was pretty sure that we all did that. I mean I always know everything about a person the minute I meet them, or I at least assess their situation or mental "abnormalities"...I am usually completely off base but that has not deterred the judgemental curmudgeon that lives not that far beneath my surface

  2. Ha ha! No, I don't think I'm alone in making up people's personal histories. I thought the pathological part was that I am far more likely to make shit up (circus, ninjas, etc.) than talk to them!

  3. I LOVED reading these! I hope that you really do have more for us!


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