Hazards Upon the Long Run

Much like the Neanderthal civilization, Greensboro, North Carolina has no sidewalks. As a result, I often end up crossing regrettable intersections at bad angles and testing the pavement of dubious crosswalks.

Much like other Neanderthal beings, I approach the outside world cautiously. Neanderthal joggers often peeked from side to side along the game trails, hoping to detect saber tooth tigers and Casteroides ohioensis. As for me, while I have been hit or almost hit by just about every kind of motorized vehicles from motorcycles to dump trucks, nothing chases me off the road so often as the mid-sized to enormous four-door road vehicles. By their nature, these “SUVs” are harmless gentle, creatures who will not engage a human, even when provoked. They have little interest in human beings whatsoever. Even if you sneak behind them and poke them with sticks or attempt to entice them with a conversation about Moby Dick or The Wrath of Kahn, they will hardly even acknowledge your existence.

However, beneath the surface, something terrifying lurks. (That’s not necessarily true, I just thought it would add some dramatic tension.)

However, seriously, during particular times of the day – e.g. morning, noonish, evening, afternoon – these beautiful creatures begin a frantic scurry, a meticulously choreographed ballet. During which times, it doesn’t matter what bright colors you’re wearing or how many babies you’re pushing in the stroller, these clamoring beasts will not be deterred. It is in their nature to neither change course, nor slow down, so don’t sprain an ankle in a crosswalk, and if you do, don’t bother begging for mercy. My only guess is that we humans are just too tiny for the great “SUV” to even recognize. For them to see us as sentient creatures would be much like a human being thinking that a dog or a turtle should have some kind of rights. Ridiculous.

While these frequent, if unexplained, mass migrations might be equally beautiful and dangerous, even our top scientists have failed to explain the significance of such events. When I asked Zac about it, he said, “I don’t know, Dad. Can I please finish my homework now?” Sam, similarly, responded, “You are so weird.”

If you are like me and you live in a place where such beautiful animals roam the grand paths through our cities, but you would nonetheless like to take a long run once-or-so a week, consider Sunday mornings. I have found it is much easier to get in ten, twelve miles with little chance of being run over by an “SUV” from around 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. It is at this rare time of the week that the “SUV”s gather in a sort of ritual silence in front of enormous barnlike structures. While none of the creatures ever enter the structure, they sit outside quietly, one might say reverently, as I run by.

Why do these magnificent beast choose this moment to gather and remain silent? What draws them to these enormous domiciles? Will there ever be a day when humans and “SUV”s live in harmony? Are modern “SUV”s truly the descendent of some ancient coupling of a station wagon and a military vehicle? Or did they spring forth into their suburban resting grounds fully formed sometime in the mid-90s? I asked some of our family’s top anthropologists. Naomi said, “Seriously, Dad? Get a life.” Blaisey sat thoughtfully for a spell and said, “Can I have some ice cream?” Who’s right? I don’t know. It is unlikely that any of us will know for quite some time. For now, it is enough for me that at least once a week, the great beasts and I call a truce and coexist peacefully, in no hurry, paying homage to the world in our own ways.

Note to runners: Please be cautioned if you take this running tip. If you run past noon on these “days of 4WD rest” as I like to call them, all proverbial bets are off. When those bells ring twelve, all hell breaks loose.

Meanwhile, I leave you all with these two thoughts:

1. “Would any tree be safe with a beaver as big as a Buick?”

And 2. "Smells like a steak and seats thirty-five."

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