Thursday, May 19, 2011
You shouldn't judge a book by its cover but admit it you do
Part of my training regimen for the Summerfest half marathon I am running (and I use that word lightly) with SH is to you know, run. SH and I ran together on Sunday for the first time in five years. We ran five miles and did it without stopping. He was a lot faster than I am, probably because 1. he is six inches taller so even with the same number of strides, he covers more ground and 2. running is all he is doing. I go to the Y four times a week and take weights, aerobics, and yoga.
The yoga is a recent addition on the advice of my Steve, who said that it might possibly help reduce my headaches. Here is what I have learned about yoga:
1. It is a lot harder than it looks. (I have also learned that about playing golf and about cutting hair.)
2. It looks like you spend all your time lying on your back or just bending over, but yoga is the only class I have taken at the Y that has made me sweat.
3. Some yoga instructors never shut the heck up, so while they are advising you to Fall into Being and Find Your Authentic Self in the Stillness and Quiet, you are gritting your teeth and screaming inside your head, "Shut up! Shut up! There is no Stillness and Quiet!"
SH and I ran together once when we first met. He was faster then, too, so I told him I would prefer to exercise alone thankyouverymuch. I don't need to be mocked or passed by someone whose main form of exercise is climbing down the basement stairs to get the Dill Pickle Pringles he has hidden from himself.
But when he announced a few months ago that he wanted to run the race, I said I would do it with him because it is important for us to have some hobbies in common, not that exercising is a hobby it's more like torture, and I want to encourage this kind of health-advancing activity. We may still end up strolling the entire 13 miles, smoking cigarettes* and drinking beer, but we will finish.
Anyhow. I went out for a four-mile run yesterday after I had gone to yoga in the morning. I plod along very, very slowly, which gives me plenty of time to watch what is going on in the neighborhood.
Four blocks from our house, across from the cemetery, I saw a beat-up old car parked on the side of the road. Inside the car was a guy with dreadlocks.
I was suspicious.
We do not live in a dreadlock neighborhood. We live in an old people and young families with kids neighborhood.
Let me also say this:
I have yet to see a white person with dreads who does not look like his hair is just dirty. I have seen many a nice set of dreads on black people - my friend Thea's dreads are just cute - but every white person's dreads I have seen has looked nasty.
I am not making a categorical statement that dreads on white people always look bad. Just on the white people I have seen.
I turned and looked at the license plates as I trotted by. I've got my eye on you, buddy, I was thinking.
I turned to look again. Dreadlock guy got out of the car. Crossed the street. Walked into the yard. Up to the front window. Pushed it open and climbed into the house.
"Excuse me!" I yelled, thinking of my next-door neighbors who had been robbed in broad daylight. "Excuse me!"
Dreadlock guy stuck his head out of the window. "Oh, it's OK! This is my dad's house."
I wasn't quite sure how to take that. First, someone who is willing to break into a house is probably willing to lie about it. Second, any time I have had to break into my own house or my parents' house, I have used a back window specifically so I could prevent awkward conversations like this one.
I jogged up the driveway of the house two doors away. A man was working in the garage. "Do you know your neighbor up the street?" I asked. "Because a guy with dreadlocks just went in through the window." Dreadlock Guy could be telling the truth. He could be lying. It wouldn't hurt to check. Trust but verify is what I always say, although what that really reduces to is Don't trust, which is also fine in this kind of situation.
Dreadlock Guy ran down the sidewalk, a pit bull in his arms. "It's OK! Really! It's OK! I locked myself out." The dog had not accompanied him on the breakin and had not been in the car.
I shrugged. "Fine," I said.
"You don't need to be upset!"
Oh now that's something that makes me mad. When men tell me how to feel. Plus I wasn't upset - I was out of breath from running up the hill.
But - the garage neighbor did know him and Dreadlock Guy seemed so sincere and so concerned and up close, he had a very sweet face although I know (Ted Bundy!) that you cannot judge on looks and really, if he were breaking in, I suppose he would have tried to get away rather than reassure me. And if the resident pit bull was not bothered to see this guy, maybe he was OK. So I decided not to be mad.
And yes I know I was totally judging him because of the dreads and the beat-up car, but I think I would be suspicious of anyone climbing in through a front window.
In one of my Shakespeare classes in college, Dr Huston had the class cast the plays as if we were going to make a movie. For Othello, he asked us who should play Iago, who is the bad guy who convinces his best friend, Othello, that Othello's wife is cheating on him, which she is not. But Othello believes Iago and kills Desdemona, which even if she had cheated on him was a bit of an overreaction if you ask me.
We wanted an ugly actor to play Iago. I can't remember now whom we picked, but after we had suggested a few names, Dr Huston told us he would cast Robert Redford, who used to be quite the looker (if you like blonds which I do not) before all his time in the sun caught up with him.
"Evil," he said, "is beautiful and seductive. If it were ugly, nobody would want it."
If I ever decide to take up a life of crime, I will make sure I am well groomed and nicely dressed because people do make assumptions.
* Steve, Megan, Leigh and I ran in a 5K in Memphis put on by the American Heart Association. We got to the warmup and saw people at the starting line in jeans, smoking cigarettes. Megan looked at them, then turned to us and announced confidently, "We're going to win this race."