A Man and his Dog
Warning: Do not read while eating
I’ve been having a fantastic summer. Maybe too much sun and fun, if you know what I mean, and so once or twice a week I wake up and look at myself in the mirror and scream (in my head) and decide I must exercise. Running is my preference but it is only possible in the early morning before it gets too hot.
Conveniently, I have a park just up the hill from my apartment. And there is a trail that leads up to the cell phone tower and Ferris wheel at the top. I’ve tested it for safety twice before on weekends and there were always plenty of people hiking, including women, although I was always the only woman alone. I felt only semi-safe and so never went too high.
Yesterday I woke up, looked in the mirror, and decided to run. I set out at 7:30 am, already pretty hot. The climb up the hill starts with a series of winding steps before converting to a trail. It being a Thursday morning there were fewer people about than usual, but I did pass one girl at the beginning sitting alone on the stair railing, and then just past the end of the stairs an older man rubbing something on his medium size dog’s fur. A bit further up I passed two older men.
Now my mantra with older men in parks is, “do not look, do no look, do not look,” as they are invariably masturbating, but still mostly harmless. But these two men bore a vague resemblance to Dominique Strauss-Kahn (being older and grey and pot-bellied and well to do and possibly speaking French) and I began to think they could be a threat to more than just my sensibility. But I kept going anyway, until I saw another older man in the distance—this one alone with his small dog and no shirt. I decided to turn around—not enough women or young people about. It didn’t feel right.
So I jogged back, past the two older men, wondering if I could take them down if they jumped me, and then just before the steps I heard a noise in the bushes and I looked—breaking my rule. And there was the first older man with his dog. Ten feet away on a small side path. Doing the unspeakable. Yes, to the dog. I kept going, because that is what you do when you see such things. I kept going and going until I was back at my apartment. And then I took a long, cold shower.