Jogging For My Life
As a city, Portland managed surprisingly well to quarantine the true crazies from the somewhat normal citizens of the world. If you were to stay in the North West part of town you could enjoy a gelato while listening to a well-dressed hipster complain about dog leashes interfering with his daily bike route, but stray just a block too far past Burnside Avenue and you could be shopping in a Goodwill next to a smelly overweight homeless lady who dyed her hair neon yellow using house paint. True story.
The most common stranger I came upon was that of the late twenty-something man whose biggest priority in life was trying to figure out a way to convert his food stamps into cheap alcohol. It just so happened that while Beth and I ventured along a nearby nature trail that we came across a group of these individuals, who, despite it only being three in the afternoon, were already fairly well sauced.
"HEY! You two!" One of them yelled while stumbling. "It's this guys birthday today! Guess how old he is!"
After briefly looking back to make sure they were addressing us, we then shrugged our shoulders.
"He just turned 21!! WOO!"
"Wow. Congratulations." I said, fully aware that all of these men were well into their thirties.
"Can you believe this guy is only 21?!"
"We're gonna draaaaank!"
"Awesome." I said, as I started walking slightly faster.
We continued along the trail and in the meantime tried to forget about the slightly disturbing interaction we had just undergone. We distracted ourselves by saving the stray slugs who wandered aimlessly on the path and risked being trampled by the high traffic of bicyclists, dogs, and joggers. After a while we were so overwhelmed by the fresh air and lush greenery, that we had completely forgotten that the only way back home was directly past the drunken birthday party.
"They're probably gone by now though." I said. "You think?"
They weren't. From around the corner we could already hear the crashing sounds of broken bottles and obnoxious high-fives.
"Okay. I have an idea." I said. "According to Portland etiquette, people don't bother joggers, so if we just start running and look really determined to finish our work-out, we'll be fine."
"But Zack," Beth said, "You never run. Ever."
"Well it looks like there's a first time for everything."
After mentally preparing ourselves, we began running around the corner while breathing heavily and furrowing our brows. I even went so far as to look at my wrist to check our time, even though I don't wear a watch.
Then disaster struck.
After a single yard of jogging my foot got lodged on an exposed tree root and immediately twisted itself. Falling face forward, a cloud of dust exploded out from under the weight of my body hitting the ground.
"HOLY F*%&!" One of the drunkards yelled, while laughing. "Did you guys see that?"
I quickly jumped up and waved. "I'm alright, I'm alright!"
"Yo, we're in no condition to drive you to a hospital bro!" Another chimed in, also laughing.
Wincing in pain, I limped towards Beth who slowly shook her head.
We wandered out of the forest as we heard the sounds of laughing ebb in the distance. Rubbing my swollen ankle back home, I started to wonder if it was just everyone in this town that was a little bit weird, or if, in fact, I was one of the crazies.