Run if you want to, chum, but it’s a sure way to attract dogs. Dogs love things that move fast because it reminds them of a primitive time when they killed their food rather than just waiting for it to ooze out of a can.

Run everywhere like you do and someone will get the idea that you’ve done something heinous. The next thing you know, the law’s on your tail and how do you think you’ll be treated at the hokey all sweaty and dressed like that?

Run all you want, Forrest Gump, I don’t care. Just try to stop when your feet get wet because brother, that’s the Atlantic Ocean.

Everybody’s on the run. Young, old, pregnant, jock, geek, it just doesn’t matter. You’re all out there whizzing by while I’m here trying to lean up against a post. I put a lot of work into my leaning style. I’m not going to mess it up by going high-speed.

I swear, I’m the last of the low-velocity bipeds. My friends jog. My enemies jog. A few people I know who can barely walk nonetheless jog. They drag themselves up from the floor with hangovers that should kill them. They moan and groan and drink some god-awful power shake that looks like it should be coming out of them instead of going in. They put on sneakers that cost more than their cars and they hit the pavement, dead men jogging.

Leaning against a post, I watch them with bewilderment and admiration.

Mostly bewilderment.

How did these people get it in their minds to run? Some are men so lazy, they whine if they have to reach across the sofa for a remote control. These are people whose lives were saved by Netflix because they could no longer bear the long trips to the video store.

And yet there they are, running. Five miles, 6 miles, 8 miles a day. In freezing cold or blazing heat, they run. They will skip bathing, funerals and job interviews, but they will not miss one morning or night of running.

Everybody is running. When I’m leaning against a post or riding my motorcycle, they inspire me with guilt. Should I be running, too, for mental as well as physical health? Are all these runners aware than I am not running? Do they keep names and alert other runners?

There’s a certain intensity involved, isn’t there? No matter who it is – an old guy getting passed by kids on tricycles or a future Olympian sponsored by Adidas – they get that look. The eyes are fixed straight ahead and nowhere else. They seem to be studying some inner landscape as attentively as the outer one. They appear oblivious to all around them and yet there is a distinct threat implied by the steely gaze: Make any move to impede my progress, my non-running friend, and I will go Tai Bow on your low-velocity rear.

Which also baffles me. If jogging is so physically and emotionally salubrious, why do you all look so damned angry?

Forget I asked. I don’t want any trouble. I just want to lean against this post.

It’s not that I never tried, you know. I did, when I was a kid. This was back in the day when I thought everything was worth trying, including neck chains and salads.

I went out and bought a jogging outfit. It was powder blue and had a racing stripe up the legs. I don’t recall where I got it. I don’t recall if I spent actual money on the ridiculous thing, money that could have been spent on a slingshot or one of those throw-your-voice kits.

I got a headband, too, because everybody who ran back then wore a headband. And some of those bands for the wrist because, I don’t know. The wrists get really sweaty or something.

And then, looking like I was on my way to a Village People reunion party, I went running. For an estimated thirty seconds, it was pure bliss. Then some fool hurled something at me from a car. A block later, I attracted the attention of a doberman (how was I supposed to know that powder-blue drives them wild?) and the chase was on.

The doberman chased me through a parking lot. I tried to climb a fence but the fence collapsed and the dog kept coming. I tried to go all Tai Bow on its backside but Tai Bow hadn’t been invented yet. The brute got its teeth on the powder-blue seat of my pants and ripped it. The headband had slipped down over my eyes so I could barely see where I was going as I fled.

Fortunately, my blind sprint led me into the side of a pickup truck. And when I’d gathered myself from that collision, I flung myself into the truck bed, at last escaping the hot, grinding jaws of that Bruce Jenner equivalent of a dog.

Wheezing and sweating, feeling a draft through the hole in my pants, I crouched there while the doberman circled the truck over and over, laughing in that dog way over the damage it had wrought. I don’t remember how I escaped the beast. I only know that when the time came, I didn’t run. I walked home, probably pausing a while to lean against a post.

Runner’s high? Thanks, man. I’ll sniff shoe polish instead, if that’s the choice I have.

Mark LaFlamme is a Sun Journal staff writer: [email protected] He is sometimes seen running from editors.


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