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Interview with a Jogger
by R.A. Smith

No, no. It's mainly the middle-aged women that are problem. They're the ones I have to watch out for. Sure, others give me trouble now and then. Teenage boys like to throw things at me--you know, like water balloons--or swerve at me and pretend they're going to run me down. That's especially true if there's a car load of them, you know, egging each other on. Or young women and girls. They can mean trouble, too. But for a different reason--it's because they don't pay attention and drive like bats outa hell. Teenagers are always talking to each other and listening to their music, and young woman are concentrating on their kids or their lattes or their cell phones or maybe that cute guy over on the other side of the street. But, male or female, those are relative rarities.

Relative to middle-aged woman, that's what. That's my point. They're a whole nother can of worm.

Of course not all middle-aged women. Maybe not even fifty percent. But that's just it, isn't it? There's enough that you have to watch out for.

Do you really think I'm saying all this just because of one incident? I've had trouble dozens of times. Just missed being injured or worse. Let me tell you, I've been jogging thirty years, and I've seen a lot. Say I'm about to run onto a crosswalk at an intersection. Say the walk sign is on. Doesn't make a bit of difference. A middle-aged woman will look me straight in the eye--I always throw a glance over my shoulder before I cross--look me straight in the eye and then turn right in front of me. They hope they hit me. I've had to jump backward onto my ass plenty of times, I can tell you.

Even got nicked by a bumper once or twice. Did they stop to see if I was all right? Not on your life. Even slow down? No. No, I saw them look in the rearview mirror at me, and I swear they smiled.

I mean women between about thirty-five and sixty--what does anyone mean by "middle-aged"? The age is just an approximation. It's the "middle-aged woman" attitude that's really at the heart of it.

That's the same as asking why they try to hit me. Why they like to swerve to the side of the road to force me up onto the sidewalk. Why they roll through a stop sign and stop practically out in the intersection itself, if they stop at all. Why they back down their driveways as if it's up to the rest of the world to get outa their goddamn way. Why they do forty in a twenty-five and sixty in a forty. Why they drive with their horns instead of their brakes and make hand gestures--yeah, this one--that they'd of scolded their kids for using.

It's a sexual thing, I think. And an anger thing. I mean, those two are intertwined, sorta like sex itself. They're past their looks, if they ever had any to begin with, getting fat and droopy and wrinkled. Probably their husbands have lost interest in them or visa versa. They don't like sex. Probably never did, really. Probably resent the man who kept sticking his dick in them while they only got sore and pregnant. So, even if they don't realize it, they hate their husbands, who are probably just as slobby as them anyway. There's another kind, too. The outright man-hater.

No, I don't mean lesbians, necessarily. There is a kind of mean lesbian who doesn't think she is a lesbian until she's done something nasty to a man, but I think most of them just want not to be bothered. No, that's a side issue.

Why don't you just look at the form in front of you. It says I'm divorced, doesn't it? Haven't you read it?

Well, I was getting to that. So these bitter, overweight, bored, vindictive middle-aged women, who don't see anything ahead of them in life but the same old same old, spot me jogging on the side of the road.

Okay, pal, I'll clear that up right now so you'll stop interrupting. I jog on the side of the road instead of the sidewalk because, one, asphalt is softer on my poor old bones than cement; two, because the sidewalks often have children and dogs on them, which are unpredictable obstacles and dangers to joggers; three, the asphalt is usually less cracked and ledged than sidewalks; and, four, I have more space at intersections to jump out of the way of numb-nuts who run stop signs. Got it?

Well, then. As I was saying, these middle-aged women see me jogging. And they see I'm in good shape for a man my age. A flat belly. I have muscle definition in my arms and legs. And I run at a right smart clip--I have energy. They see that at a glance, and it bothers them. They resent it.

Why? What I've just said. They don't have it. Their bodies are going to pot, and they're too lazy and spoiled by the good life to do anything about it. And their husbands don't have it--probably their obese sons and daughters, either. That's why. That, and they know, looking like they do, they could never seduce me even if they did like sex. So, resentment. Then, resentment turns to harassment--as fast as that.

No, black, white, Mexican, Chinese, or paisley, it doesn't make any difference.

I wouldn't know about that. Ours is a solid middle-class neighborhood. The high and mighty don't have a reason to drive through. The same for poor women.

No, no, don't even go there. This is not about chauvinism. Of course, I like women. I married two of them, didn't I? And I have a great daughter whose going to the U right now and is a wonderful person and likes me. I'm no misorganist.

Right, misogynist. Whatever.

No, I didn't know Mrs. Waldron. I never met her before. Look, I'm getting tired of being asked that. She hit me. Drove right into me, and on purpose, you can be sure. Then when I'm trying to pick myself up off the ground, she's got the balls to get outa her car and yell at me. Man, the things she called me. You don't even hear language like that at the movies.

She was frightened? SHE was frightened. What about me? Doesn't anyone remember here that I'm the one that got injured, that I got the bruised and sprained hip. I bet I'm gonna need an artificial hip pretty soon because of this.

I'm calm. I'm calm. But you people got to remember one important thing, here. One very important thing that you seem to have forgotten or don't care about: I didn't start any of this. She didn't have to hit me with her fancy behemoth of an SUV. She didn't have to attack me afterwards. I bet she'll be out of the hospital before I am.

I can't believe this. Are you kidding me? Of course I'm competent. What kind of question is that? Ask any of my friends. Or my old coworkers at Allied Architects, where I worked--worked loyally--for twenty years. Or ask my daughter. I mean, Christ!

It's a free country. Talk to them if you want. I'll even give their phone numbers, if you need them. But, remember, they divorced me, so you can't expect they'll be very objective. But by all means, talk to them. Whatever.

It is? Well, then--what will you recommend to the court?

Further evaluation? Whata you mean further evaluation? What about bail?

Oh, bullshit. "More testing"--that's a load of crap, and you know it. You've already made up your mind. You just don't want to admit it to my face. Is that what "professional" means nowadays? It means mealy-mouthed bullshitter. It means some pussy-whipped, slave-to-feminism, bureaucratic, two-faced sniveler?

Calm. Hell with you, pencil-neck.


Mr. Rischter, you have to control yourself--for your own good. Outbursts like this serve no purpose. I'm here to help.

Mr. Rischter?

Mr. Rischter, this is childish. You must stay calm, be patient, and the court will see that you get a fair hearing.

Mr. Rischter?

Very well, then.

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