I should never have jogged to someone else’s Ipod. The songs didn’t take my mind off my sore knees or the years sneaking by. To make matters worse today was the day that I had planned on altering my route to include a new hill. Being out of shape I tend to stick to the kind of flat where you can see an anthill coming 20 yards away.
I like the word distance when I hear people talk about distance runners. Great way of describing it. Distance. That’s why I need to run to the songs I like because it helps me create distance. Not in miles but between myself and the pain in my knees and lungs and head. Throw on the wrong soundtrack and it affects your distance.
I’m on the way down from the top of this hill when I first see him. Of course, I call it a hill but if you live in Colorado or Wyoming you’d probably snort a contemptuous snort and call it a tiny bump on an otherwise smooth road, but I’m telling the story so just be grateful that I didn’t describe a jagged peak that disappears into the clouds.
Anyway, I’m headed down when I see this optical illusion created by the great distance between myself, what I couldn’t possibly be seeing and my borderline dehydration (having gone at least 10 minutes without a long gulp of Gatorade). There’s a guy at the bottom of the hill and the way he’s standing it makes it appear as if his body is normal but instead of a head he has a stop sign. I drop my head, laugh a little to myself and continue jogging, certain that he is standing behind a stop sign and this is just one of those funny things you see that can never be recreated however hard you try. The smile fades a bit when I think I remember not seeing a stop sign there on the jog past that spot 5 minutes ago.
I look again. Still a stop sign for a head.
Little laugh, drop head. Funny the information your eyes can present to your brain with a straight face.
Another shitty song on the Ipod.
I look again and now there is no getting around it. It’s a guy with a stop sign for a head. Not in some metaphorical sense but an actual red octagon with the word STOP written on it where typically you see a person’s head.
Now of all the questions you’d think would be racing through my head at that moment you might be surprised a little to learn what the only one really was. As I approach this guy, do I have to stop? What you also might be surprised to learn is that I didn’t think that because his head was a stop sign and I was under any illusions that I was legally required to stop, but just that someone who has a stop sign for a head might not feel comfortable in public and stopping and saying hi to put him at ease might be the nice thing to do.
I could sit here all day and speculate what questions might have popped into your head but instead I’ll just carry on and tell you that as I got closer the physiology of this guy truly was a normal-looking person with a regulation stop sign where his head was… except for one detail. He had a big mustache sitting under the T. No eyes, no mouth, just this thick stash.
As you might expect I lost my nerve and just jogged right by him with a little nod of recognition. I can’t beat myself up too much for not being more neighborly, the stash really threw me.
Yet another shitty song on the Ipod. Damn, you’d think that just the law of probability would dictate that at least one non-shitty song would come on but this playlist was shit from bow to stern.
I admit that for a little while after this encounter I did wonder to myself which sign I would be if I had to choose one, I’m certain it would only have 4 sides as opposed to 8, but for the rest of my unpleasant run I mainly was thinking about Arthur Schopenhauer and his quote about truth .
“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”
I thought about the distance between each of those stages, not in the way we process information and reach conclusions but in actual feet and yards. About the man with a stop sign for a head and how proud I was that I was able to close those distances before I actually reached him.
Although in retrospect, I really should have stopped.