Friday, July 23, 2004


Yesterday was a beautiful day in Seattle – the kind of day that makes people forget about the 360 cloudy days of the year and remember why they moved here in the first place. The kind of day that you can’t experience in any other city in the country – okay maybe I am biased- the mountains were out (even on some sunny days the mountains can remain hidden in a far off haze), Mount Rainier was unfettered and the Seattle skyscrapers and the Space Needle all made for the picture perfect day – especially for the tourists. So because it was such a beautiful day I, and hundreds of other Seattleites descended upon Seattle’s Green Lake, a pond really, at three miles in diameter. People come to walk, jog, run, bike, roller blade, or skateboard around the lake for exercise, conversation, or just to enjoy the day. There are soccer players, volley ball enthusiasts, basket ballers, filled tennis courts and even a little rapier academy that sets up on nice days. There are families galore picnicking, playing Frisbee or catch, enjoying the wading pool or even fishing. I was just there to exercise via speed walking (not nerdily, just at a brisk pace) as I listened to the music provided by my apparently obsolete Discman (everyone is carrying the ultra-hip iPod now) and people-watch of course. I love to see the people that come out on a lovely day to walk around Green Lake. It is more varied than your average cloudy, drizzly day, when the park is populated by hard-core sporties (one of which I will be someday, I just know it). So I embarked on my walk – I always go clock-wise around the lake because the people on wheels all have to go counter-clockwise, so by going the opposite, I have double the people to see face on. I set myself a nice pace and began to look around me at the people I passed or approached. I would smile at the cute little puppies, ugly dogs and old people, I would pretend that I didn’t see the hot guys jogging sans shirt (but try not to appear snobbish by maintaining a half-smile), I would try to check out other girls’ bodies as I walked by to compare mine to theirs (it is amazing how much more eager I was to check them out than I was the guys –granted I do have an incredibly gorgeous boyfriend already, so why check any others out because they won’t compare – but I guess I wanted to see if her stomach was flatter than mine, her hips more shapely, I already know that her boobs are bigger, so I don’t even bother with those). I felt almost like a man trying to gawk without gawking. I felt the girls looking at me in the same way I looked at them and realized that we were all scrutinizing each other. Here we are trying to get in shape for ourselves and we are all sucking in our stomachs so the next girl will be jealous. I think that maybe girls are a lot harsher critics when it comes to bodies than guys will ever be and it is not that I am critiquing their bodies but rather making a comparison with mine when she is in better shape than I am because I want to have a six pack and I want my calf muscles to ripple when I jog (yeah right). But I digress, I wasn’t just checking out the girls, I was admiring the babies in strollers, the old men and their old wives, the young studs with their girlfriends, the couples linked arm-in-arm so obviously in love walking at a snail’s pace as they gaze into each other’s eyes and coo lovingly at each other (these were my favorite people because that was me and S just a few days ago).

So as I progressed I felt utterly content...that is until a bug flew in my eye. I could feel it in there and wanted to throw up. I pulled to the side and tried as hard as I could to get it out – the acrylics were no help. I couldn’t get it, so I resumed walking with the knowledge that I had a bug in my eye – a phrase that kept repeating over and over in my head. My eyes were tearing, my face distorted and I was no longer getting the looks of approval from the men that I encountered on bike or roller blade but rather of avoidance. They would glance then look away quickly. But I didn’t care about that, embarrassment was nothing compared to the most disgusting feeling (well having a roach crawl across my face in the middle of the night it, but that is a different story) of having a bug in my eye, so I sped up to a jog and made it to one of the conveniently placed restrooms and prayed there would be a mirror...there was! I rushed over and pushed my eye up close to it and pulled the bottom lid down, and there he was tucked neatly down in the bottom corner of my lid. I shuddered as I pried him out knowing that my early attempts to remove him were responsible for lodging him so deeply in my eye socket.

So trauma over, I resumed my walk. I now walked with my head tilted down slightly hoping that the brim of my hat would prevent any other such invasions of self and I tried to calculate the odds of such a thing happening again. I tried to figure out the number of gnats (millions), adding in my height (5’ 10”), rate of speed (10-15 minute mile) and thanked God I didn’t try to be a mathematician (there is a reason that word sound so close to magician) cause all those numbers meant nothing to me when added together. So I just decided that I had never had a bug in my eye before when walking around Green Lake, so maybe this experience would last me for a few more years and concentrated on my people watching and walking again. I found myself passing a woman who was walking at the same rate as I was but the length of my legs allowed me to cover a greater distance in the same amount of time, and I have tucked her into the back of my mind with all the other people that I pass had she not sped up her walk into a sort of walk/jog combo and passed me. I was in no mood to compete but part of me wondered if she was. I forgot about her for the moment as a young guy jogging through the grass with a puppy who was only a few weeks old (no more than 12) distracted me. It was such an adorable site because the puppy followed his master so adoringly, but the puppy was of the killer dog variety (which I despise, why not have a nice golden retriever if you want a big dog) so I lost myself in the vision of the dog biting some child’s arm off in a couple of years and the cuteness of the scene was lost on me as I found myself passing that woman for a second time. She seemed to speed up in attempt to thwart my passing her as she looked back out of the corner of her eye at me, but I passed her anyway. Then a few minutes later she super speed-walked past me (nerdily) and then I passed her and she passed me and I was getting so fed up with that game that I was glad when my walk was over. I never once changed my pace, but the fact that she seemed so determined to stay in front of me was infuriating and that she wore overly-tight spandex that I was more than glad to leave behind on my first passing just didn’t help matters much.
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