Originally published 12–28–06 on a former blog:
VINCENT (to Lance, discussing his car getting keyed): I just wish I caught ’em doin’ it, ya know? Oh man, I’d give anything to catch ’em doin’ it. It’a been worth his doin’ it, if I coulda just caught ’em, you know what I mean? (citation unnecessary, right?)
In retrospect, perhaps I should have expected something unusual to happen last night as I jogged my normal route along our borough’s equivalent of Main Street; it’s Christmas vacation and all the delinquent little bastards have no school till ’07. While I can’t speak for runners everywhere, I suspect that most joggers get used to Close Encounters of the Asshole Kind — the taunting, the name calling, etc. My middle finger gets a good deal of exercise, come to think of it. So, I chalked it off to sheer rudeness last night when one 16-year-old actually engaged me in a game of chicken (a game he lost, btw) on the sidewalk. (Oh, he wasn’t just some mediocre spaced-out teen; he saw me coming and grinned to his similarly subcultured cohort as if to say “watch this.” Too bad he, predictably, stepped out of my path at the very last second, as I may have enjoyed steamrolling the kid.)
But, as I said, you get used to this sort of behavior. It freaked me out a little bit back when I’d started jogging a couple years ago. I remember one night a bunch of kids shouted a few things that, to me, indicated their desire for an actual physical confrontation. Or, perhaps they intended to mug me, which is quite a lot of trouble to go through for the meager spoils involved — which, in this case, included only a cheap iPod knock-off and a $60 pair of size-10 New Balance runners. For about a week after that incident, believe it or not, I carried a pocket knife — until I soon had the intuitive realization that this was incalculably stupid. Seriously, what was I going to do, actually stab someone? So, I sheathed the weapon, so to speak, and continued my not-quite-daily pursuit of physical fitness wholly unarmed.
The thing is, I just don’t see why I draw any attention at all. Now, I know I describe myself in my profile as “morbidly obese.” But, in truth, I’m being a bit facetious. Oh sure, I could lose a few pounds (which explains why I run in the first place), but I’m fairly certain that I’m relatively “normal” looking (whatever that means). People used to say I looked like Eldin on Murphy Brown, as I was just recalling this morning. IMDB describes that actor (Robert Pastorelli) as “beefy” and “roughhewn.” Well, perhaps those are simply euphemisms, similar to “husky.” I don’t think I resemble Pastorelli, btw. But, if I do, then I must look like a boxer. Would you taunt a boxer?
All I’m saying is that, IMHO, I have few features that should invite open criticism from such element. Hell, I even wear grey sweat pants and plain black knit hat from the dollar store. How nondescript can I be?! And yet, I’m a magnet for weirdos, as always. On the other hand, I suppose it all boils down to my simply being there. Reminds me of Mallory’s famous reply, though considerably less noble, when they asked him why he wanted to ascend Everest: “Because it’s there.”
Last night, I was there. Some young motherfucker in the passenger seat of a black Mustang, doing 25 mph or so, took things to a new level. He rolled down his window and chucked an entire large Pepsi at me! I’m talking about one of those large plastic fountain drink cups — at least 32 ounces. I barely saw it coming — the heavy white object oddly tumbling as it soared through the air. It missed my right arm by a foot or so and exploded on the pavement (someone’s driveway) behind me. Apparently, the a-hole was neither athlete nor scholar, as any member of the football team or physics club would’ve likely taken the motion of the car into account during the aiming process. My instantaneous issuing of the finger and a few choice expletives made little difference as they laughed and sped away.
A few minutes later, after I’d finished my run, I passed a decorative bed filled with small stones. I stopped, looked around a bit, and then sneaked one roughly the size of my MP3 player into my jacket pocket. I walked home angry; I wanted it to happen again. As Vincent said, “It’a been worth his doin’ it, if I coulda just caught ‘em.”
See, there’s this zen thing that happens at times like that — if you happen to be carrying a stone. On a normal day, I probably couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with a rock. But, throw a large Pepsi at me and speed away … I guarantee that, at a minimum, the little shit’s looking at a cracked back windshield.
See, but then I over-think these things. By the time I’d reached home, I’d been in full fantasy mode. I imagined, rather vividly, that I’d had a similar event, thrown the rock, exploded his back window … and the Mustang had turned around. In this part of the scenario, we either have a physical altercation, or they identify me. The first ends with the police, quite a lot of paperwork, and possibly my needing to hire a lawyer. The second, a bit scarier, involves these little bastards retaliating (even though they clearly “drew first blood,” as it were). They note that I’m a regular evening jogger, methodically hunt me down, and shoot me with their Uncle Bob’s unregistered .38. And there I am, dead … all because I wasn’t a good sport about the whole Pepsi incident.
It wasn’t enough to make me drop the rock from my pocket, though. Guess I’m still a little pissed.
Okay, that’s the end of this post, just above the line there. But, as an afterthought, I wanted to say that, as any longtime readers of my blog (all one or two of you) might point out … yes, I was a bit of a hell raiser in my day. I’ll concede that much. I even wrote an entire book about it! (See almost any “Tales of the Midwest” posts. But, there’s a marked difference here: While I may have vandalized the odd piece of property, committed some minor arson, stole money and/or sundry explosives from “the man” and whatnot, my own crimes were all essentially victimless mischief. You see the difference here, right? (What? That doesn’t fly? This is all just karma? Oh well, maybe you’re right.)
✍🏻 Jim Dee maintains his personal blog, “Hawthorne Crow,” and a web design blog, “Web Designer | Web Developer Magazine.” He also contributes to various Medium.com publications. Find him at JPDbooks.com, his Amazon Author page, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Medium, or via email at Jim [at] ArrayWebDevelopment.com. His latest novel, CHROO, is available on Amazon.com. If you enjoy humorous literary tales, please grab a copy!