Monday, May 23, 2011
How To Meet Women On The Trail (Guest Blogger Vince G.)
Dearest trail running community, I need your advice. I'm a newbie to the sport, and although my slightly overweight, plodding-but-smiling form could use some pointers, it is in regards to our social norms that I seek your counsel. It's going to sound cliche, but you see, there's this girl...
I know, I know...pathetic, right? It's bad enough that I'm 44 years old, divorced (and thus knowing a thing or two about what NOT to say to women), and trying to get in shape for the first time in my life, but now I'm as fear-frozen as a teenager trying to get up the cojones to ask a girl to the prom. She appears like an angel once or twice a week on my daily trail run near my house, and just the obligatory nod-and-hey gets my heart rate going faster than the fire road climb. I take a breather and try to convince myself that sweaty palms, a dry throat, and inability to make eye contact are all a part of trail running, but who are we kidding...I've got a crush with a capital "C".
But how do I start a conversation with her? What can I say without being creepy? When greeting a woman on the trail, I get the impression there's a thin line between "friendly" and "that's when I doused his face with bear spray". Plus I want to be respectful of our sport and not break the rhythm of her run or solitude. All of my ideas either sound too cheesy ("leave some flowers for her where you last met eyes"), or just downright ill-advised ("casually follow her to car so there's a natural place to start a conversation"). HELP!!!
Before you answer, I feel like I should clarify one thing. When I say "girl", what I actually mean is "age appropriate female with a youthful spirit". It's bad enough I may be "trail trolling", lest the additional agent orange mist of mid-life crisis perversion. Scott will vouch that I am far from that guy (right, wing man? Buddy?). She is something special, though. Her effortless smile is always present, with kind green eyes nestled in a tapestry of tan lines that bare proof that she has laughed in the sun at every opportunity. Her face wouldn't dare, or require, a single spec of make up, and her pony tail joyfully bounces to its own beat, unable to contain it's wild grey strays. This is a women in touch with her youthful spirit, and by God, she is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.
I'm a bit of a romantic, which makes this a particular challenging conundrum. If you ask my ex-wife, I'm an "unrealistic romantic" at that. Unfortunately, I have to agree with her on that one, at least in that I used to be unrealistic with my expectations of love and romance. I had that belief that love could cure anything, including any issues with the marriage itself. But it turns out that a marriage, like any relationship, needs time and attention, not belief in a superhero that comes swooping in to save us in the nick of time. It's a lesson I understood too late, but one I certainly will not replicate. Oh no, I will NOT fuck the next one up. Like the trail runs that are part of my daily life, I am ready to invest fully in my greatest adventures. For that, I am already a better man.
The trails had a lot to do with unearthing the better me, digging deep, having faith in every step, finding solace and discovery in even the muddiest, coldest days. It is my sanctuary, my springboard, and my double-dare all rolled into one. Perhaps I am obsessed with this woman simply because she is out here, finding her own source of joy, adventurous in her own right, and on her own terms. Or maybe it's because I'm old enough to know that women like her are far too rare, and from what I understand, men who can appreciate that are even more so. Life, and the trails, gives us opportunities, but it is up to us to see and grasp them.
I guess I could just say that the next time I see her. But odds are I'll get the bear spray. :)
Thank you in advance for your help!
- Vince G.