I live in Omaha, Nebraska. It’s a fairly large city and we have several trails that I enjoy on a daily basis. Seeing the same people over and over provides for some random amusement. Many people just want to exercise and can’t be bothered with things like smiling or friendliness.
Not knowing their names, means I am forced to nickname them, but only to myself of course. I have nothing to go on except their actions or habits. One of my favorites has actually become a friend. Before I knew her name, I called her Squirrel Whisperer. She feeds the squirrels all year round. Ice three inches thick or snow to your knee caps and she brings food for the squirrels. I know this, because I see her, while I hide in my car and give an appreciative nod or ceremonial wave. Once, I saw her walking down the trail and a squirrel chased after her. Periodically, he’d stop and practically wave and yell. “Hey, what about me? You forgot me!”
She also knows the names of every dog she meets on the trail and their owners. As a side note, one morning, a man in a mask saw her with her bag of goodies, squirrel feed and doggie biscuits and mugged her. Luckily, she wasn’t hurt. Later, the bag with goodies was found up the street. I tried to envision the robber’s reaction after his big caper, when he opened his booty.
But I digress… there’s Mr. and Mrs. Sideways Walker. I suppose, I might get slammed for making fun of someone who has some sort of back issue, but again, I don’t know their names, nor would they tell me if I ask, because they’re unfriendly.
He’s as unfriendly as they get. He usually marches by me, smug face in the air and turned to the side. Oh, let’s not forget the protruding rear end. It actually looks painful. Contortionists could get jealous. People talk about J Lo or Kim Kardashian, but let me tell you, they’ve got nothing on Mr. Sideways Walker.
I have seen him sneak peanuts to squirrels, but before you decide he’s a closet animal activist let me tell you how I saw him beat his beautiful beagle. A friendlier dog you would never meet, but if Mr. Sideways Walker wants to leave and the dog isn’t moving fast enough, he takes the leash and slaps it along the dog’s backside. How can you help but love a beagle with a mean owner?
Course, I could also call him, Mr. No-Shirt in summer. Yes, that’s right. I shall wait, while you get a trash can or bucket.
When the temperature gets above seventy degrees he’s out there shirtless. You could call me, girl with gouged out eyes because that’s what I want to do. At the very least, I need sunshades at all times. After a long hot summer, when the temps dip down under sixty degrees, he is still shirtless. This is insanity defined. I often find myself wanting to scream at him, “It’s not that warm out!”
If women are not allowed the opportunity to go shirtless in public, nor would we want to, why are men afforded this freedom? If breasts aren’t allowed in public unless there’s a wee infant sucking away, why is a pot belly with breasts acceptable on a seventy plus year old man? Isn’t there a law? Shouldn’t there be a law?
Mr. Sideways Walker used to hit the trails alone, but after a while, Mrs. Sideways Walker started walking with him, literally, walking in the same peculiar sideways capital “S” shape. An “S” doesn’t move gracefully in nature. It’s unusual to say the least, both husband and wife walking identically. Isn’t it suspicious? Shouldn’t they see a doctor? Buy a new mattress? I guess it’s true what they say about married people, they start looking like each other and apparently even walk in the same weird way. Especially, when reversed, remember I said his rear end protrudes, so flip that capital “S.”
She walks behind him, about three yards behind, head down and kind of depressed. If you could imagine an invisible rope tied around her waist then you’d know that’s how she usually moves along. I used to think she needed rescuing, but I haven’t seen them in a while, so I don’t know what happened to them.
The trail is full of people. There’s Blond Steven Segal, not that he looks like the movie actor in any way, but the man runs exactly like Steven Segal. His hands dangle limply in front of his chest. You would be hard pressed to find a less manly way of running. I wonder why someone doesn’t say: “Ah, honey. The running thing isn’t really working for you.” But for all I know, he knows and doesn’t care. Maybe, he loves running and it’s the only thing he does that works to keep his weight down.
Okay, full discloser, I run/jog the same way. Not only do I look like Blonde Steven Segal while running, but old ladies, children and dogs pass me. (And they’ve the nerve to do it while walking.) Which makes the experience all the more humiliating, but I still do it. On occasion. When I feel like it. I prefer bicycling.
I suppose someone will read this, and say, “See, that’s why I don’t exercise. Someone will make fun of me.” Don’t get me wrong, I respect blond Steven Segal. I even respect Steven Segal. It takes guts to get out there. It takes guts to appear in a movie, and look effeminate when you’re a manly man.
Of course, there’s also Man with crazy dog. I ride my bicycle on the trail and whenever Man with a crazy dog is near, I call out, “Passing on your left!” I yell as early and as loud as possible. He takes the dog clear off the trail and sometimes down an embankment. Once he is several yards away, I’m free to pass, while he hangs on for dear life. I’m grateful he’s up to the task because it’s my life he’s saving. That dog always looks hungry.
There’s, Suspected woman cop. Sort of unfriendly, but she runs like a policewoman in pursuit. Occasionally, she’ll glance you’re way and say hi, but that’s it. No fraternization. You never know when you’ll have to arrest someone on the trail. We’ve been passing each other for ten years now. You’d think she’d be happy to see me, or anyone. Even when she runs with her husband, Suspected Male cop, she never cracks a smile. Sometimes, their son, Suspected future cop runs with them.
There’s, Guy without helmet, Peeing man and Farmer Lemond. Farmer Lemond is suspiciously enough a farmer on a bicycle. He wears cut off jean shorts, tractor T-shirts and no helmet.
Inevitably, you are wondering what my handle is. Once, I heard it as I passed a particularly crazy man, Fiendish smoker. Fiendish smoker, stands smoking a cigarette like they do in old World War II movies. He’s sucks the life out of a cigarette, blowing smoke like he’s shooting down a Japanese zero. He fidgets, nervously bobbing up and down, back and forth. “Girl on a bike,” he muttered under his breath. Yep, that’s me.