New kicks on the block

When I moved to Sarasota in 2004, I lived in a well-kept apartment complex off an ugly street with a misleading name: Fruitville Road.

Other than the fact that if you took it due west, you’d run into the Gulf of Mexico, there were only two charming things about the corridor when I lived off it : 1.) When you exited the interstate, you could spot slow-moving cattle on what little ranch land remains in Sarasota. 2.) There was this guy who resembled Danny Glover circa Lethal Weapon 3 who jogged up and down Fruitville in gray sweats.

And Jesus, did he break a sweat; stains the size of Montana.

I was insanely jealous of his dedication and dogged determination. From what I could see, he wasn’t a fast runner and he didn’t wear Spandex or tricked out sneakers. He was just a guy in gray, running the same stretch of Fruitville around 9 a.m. every weekday. His consistency, like all consistent things, gave cadence to my day. I never met him in person and I have no idea where he lived.

After living in my tidy apartment for a year, I decided to schlep all my Goodwill furnishings to a downtown Sarasota bungalow, thus changing my work commute and the frequency in which I spied the Fruitville jogger.

Up until recently, I didn’t give his absence much thought. Not until I spotted him last week huffing it down Fruitville Road in the same gray sweats.

Nearly six years have passed since I saw him and I don’t know why I have these kind of reactions to seemingly meaningless things, but my heart fluttered when I saw him. I was on my way to a 10 a.m. interview and maybe I caught him at just the right time. His 9:30 run.

I often wonder why it is people find sunsets beautiful. Sunrises too. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of both, but it’s the human things I find more moving. A lot of things can change in a person’s life to disrupt routines and still the sun will rise and the sun will set. But Danny Glover, sweaty as ever, still jogging down Fruitville Road? That’s impressive.

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Flashing my boob tube

It just occurred to me that after all that bellyaching over our nuclear bomb TV, you might want to actually see what the flat panel squawk box looks like.

Here she is, boys. Sexy, huh? She’s winking at you. She’s bending over just slightly to pick up the remote. Her screen is shiny and her buttons are pert. Just look at the shape of her! Her casing is so sleek. I dare you to turn her on.

See the vase of half-wilting yellow roses? Joe gave them to me for Valentines Day. Sometimes (often times) he’s much more romantic than me. I had forgotten about Valentines Day. My friend Kat was staying with us that weekend and her flight left V-day morning. So around 9ish, I woke up and headed to the airport. Joe was still sleeping (duh), so I kissed him on the forehead and slipped out the door.

When I returned around 10ish, I figured he was still asleep and didn’t even NOTICE that his car wasn’t in the driveway. (Sometimes I’m a covert sleuth. Sometimes I’m an oblivious douf.  On this particular morning, I was the latter.)

I was home about five minutes before the front door flew open and Joe walked in carrying a dozen yellow roses and a 25-oz. BAG of Reese’s Cups. Those of you who know me (and those of you who only know me a little) know that PEANUT BUTTER AND CHOCOLATE PUMPS THROUGH MY VEINS.

I didn’t toss the yellow roses until March 10. The Reese’s were gone in less than a week.

My ♥/hate relationship with running

I got ambitious with my distraction tactics a couple weeks ago. I Googled St. Petersburg and triathlon and came up with Escape From Fort Desoto, a triathlon scheduled for 7 a.m. April 10 (my birthday) on one of the most beautiful stretches of beach on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

I’ve never participated in a triathlon, but I’ve always wanted to something fierce. This one seemed like a good beginner race: a .5-mile swim, a 10-mile bike ride and a 4-mile run. How taxing could it be?

The biking part, I’ve got that down. The swimming part, no problem. I once creamed one of my most physically fit (male) friends in a swimming race across Kinzua Lake on a camping trip in Warren, Pa. Sure it was eight years ago, but still. I’m a mermaid.

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A full moon and the ghosts of dogwalkers past

I was walking the pug Sunday night in the park by my house.

The park sits on the edge of a bayou, making it vulnerable to wind and light and bums and illicit activities. Steeped in the glow of a full moon, the swing set looked white-yellow, the water looked white-yellow and the picnic tables under the pavilion looked white-yellow. Everything around me was the color of milk and honey. Everything but the trees.

The wind and the moonlight scattered through the palm fronds, turning the trees into black bendy straws that rattled in the wind like bags of rice being poured into a barrel. The moon was hanging low like a bulb with a rusty pull-chain, casting a white spotlight on the water.

As we walked, the pug pulled me closer to the shore, where fish jumped in and out of a moonbeam as if on stage.

I heard the low drone of an approaching conversation and saw that a man and woman walking a big dog were gaining on us. I didn’t recognize them, so I kept on trucking, tugging on the pug, who applies his brakes at the faintest smell of another dog’s urine.

The pug lifted his leg on a fallen tree branch as the couple and their dog got closer. I smiled at the trio as they neared, still not recognizing them or their dog.

Stooping closer to the pug as he passed, the man muttered, “Hey Cub,” and then reached for the woman’s hand and rounded the corner.

I figured I just heard him wrong. I figured he said pup or pug and that my brain turned it into Cub. The fish were causing a commotion and the breeze was making the whole park rattle, so I could have easily misheard him. But before accepting this, I turned to get a better look.

Had I met them before and not remembered? It’s possible.

Like everything else, the couple was white-yellow, standing a good eight feet away from me, not moving, not talking and not smiling. Just staring. At me. Even their big dog was frozen still. For five seconds I stared back and tried to make sense of the situation and when I realized no sense would come of it, I tugged on the pug, whispered for him to move and headed for the crosswalk at a good clip.

I wish I could tell you where my creepy friends walked off to, but I can’t. When I reached the crosswalk, I turned around for a second look and they were gone. The only things making noise in the park were the fish, the palm trees and my heart.

PS. Illustration by German digital artist H. Kopp-Delaney.