About a week or so ago I was on a run-of-the-mill five mile trot that looped me through KU’s campus, which is one of the top three most beautiful places I’ve ever seen during the spring. The weekend before I ran in extreme heat and was poorly hydrated. I nearly collapsed mid-run, and even tried to flag down a motorist to drag my sorry ass to the hospital. I felt a blackout coming on and gave a weak wave and coughed out, “Hey!”
They either didn’t see me, or remember their mother telling them to not pick up hitch hikers, and drove off. I plopped against a tree in the shade and slowly felt my barrings come back to me. I eventually walked home and took a 10 minute cold-water shower and chugged Gatorade.
So here I am on KU’s campus, temporarily parked in front of JRP. The memory of the Grim Reaper fresh in my mind, I pit-stopped for a water break. I was also overheating like an em-effer. It’s mid-April, and I’m sucking down heat and humidity like I was sitting in front of a Vick’s Vaporizer. I drank my water and decided for the first time this season I was shedding the shirt and running topless.
Mid-summer, I barely want to wear shirts when I go to the bars or grocery shopping. I hate feeling hot, so I ditch shirts quicker than if I was working the pole. But it’s mid-April, and I haven’t warmed up to that comfort level.
Or rather, I have warmed up to that comfort level, but I’m not sure the rest of the world has yet. There just aren’t a lot of shirtless runners this time of the year. By being the only shirtless runner, I up the chances 20-fold I’m going to have an…altercation… with someone in a car. But it’s hot as hell and I’m scared of blacking out again.
I’m standing in the shade of JRP. Look left. Look right. No cars or people. This is a good place to shed the shirt, tuck it in to my shorts by my hip, and roll out. Let’s do this.
Bam. Shirt off. White chest out in all it’s unshaved glory. I inhale my pre-acceleration breath…
“WOOOO!! OW OW!!”
“God damn it.”
An SUV of guys, nonetheless, cat-call me within five seconds of my shirt being off. I am the meat hanging in the butcher’s window for straight frat boys to holler at apparently, because this happens to me “a shitload.”
(I’m sure many male runners can attest to this. I’m not claiming this to be an issue I deal with because I’m some Calvin Klein model or something) I’m not presuming their motivation, but I’ve been cat-called dozens of times in the last three years. Seventy-five percent of the time it’s dudes. Of that 75 percent, half are frat boys “hollering” at me, and the other time it’s guys in camo trucks calling me a “faggot.” They must not have dictionaries next to the rifle in the window, because I don’t think they realize they are misusing that word. Not to mention they obviously have no taste in civility or humanity.
The frat boy is a more curious case. Either they think the shirtless runner is full of himself and want to mock him (in my defense, I’m full of myself, but was also disgustingly [temperature] hot), or they really think cat-calling me has the appearance of hilarity to the rest of their friends in the car, but also gives them an excuse to check out another guy in a neutral setting, thus satisfying their bi or homosexual curiosities. Whatever, a-holes. Either way, I would kick the ish out of you in any race and I would steal your girlfriend if she was in the car with you.
I can’t speak for women, but I only assume it’s worse for you. Dealing with cat-calls unfortunately is a part of training outdoors. But I must say, it thickens your skin.
However, every once in a while it’s a really pretty girl who says, “Nice butt” out her window with a smile. Put me back on the meat hook for display, because I want you to circle back around so I can get your number.