I’m jogging my usual route. There’s a girl trotting in front of me with the most amazing hair. I can’t see her face. I don’t know for sure yet but I'm thinking she’s of Asian or Indian descent because it’s Shiny. Long. Sleek. Dark. I’m stereotyping. I know. But it’s the kind of shampoo-commercial hair that we frizzy haired gals could never have dreamed of before the arrival of keratin treatments and flat irons.
Her hair isn’t swept up into the usual ponytail one wears when one is jogging. It’s unrestrained for some reason. Swaying back and forth as she runs. And it's glowing. I feel the the need to tell her how beautiful it is.
See—I’m at a place in my life where if I have something nice to say, I say it. Geez, all the nasty name calling going on…everyone can use a compliment, right? Even if it’s just that their hair makes my eyes happy.
As I pass her on the right I begin to bestow my admiring words and—I see she is most likely Japanese. Certainly many of our eastern friends speak English fluently. But not all of them. Maybe she doesn't understand me. She looks confused. A little angry even. Many people (myself included), don’t take kindly to distraction when in the zone of endorphin release…or in the middle of their favorite song…or a perfectly conceived thought. What a buzz kill. But no, it's not that...she has earbuds in her ears. She can't hear me. So, I put my finger up, as if to signal “excuse me.”
But before I can get my thought out she spits 2 words in my face: “Seriously? Good-bye!!” —words that a visitor or someone who doesn’t speak a native tongue might have been advised to say to someone trying to make contact…in order to filter out potentially unfriendly incoming…just in case. After all, these days, we can’t tell a middle-aged-serial-songwriter-jogger from a terrorist. Everyone is under suspicion. As they should be. I guess. Mad World.
But I digress….
"Seriously? Good-bye??" What is that?
A good-bye before a hello.
And then she waves me off like I’m a fly buzzing around her head.
I jog on. Somewhat startled. Embarrassed. Embarrassed for what? Crossing a boundary?
Her loss. She will never know. What a shame.
On the other hand I totally get it. I do. She can’t be too careful. People do anything to get your attention (especially if they sense you’re naive), only to rip you off or ask for love or sexual favors...sometimes they just take them without asking. But I can’t imagine I come off like that type of people. I mean, look at me. I’m that middle-aged-serial-songwriter-jogger...WITH a fanny pack to boot.
But I guess there could be a bomb in that fanny pack. :(
Why can’t we all get along, Rodney King?
I hope she sees this blog and recognizes her 2 words. I don’t want her to feel bad. I want her to reconsider taking the compliment in the spirit with which it was given. And in case she does feel bad, I want to let her know I understand.
As for me, I'll recover. And I will continue to let people know when they make my day better…if I like their dress…if I love their song. Even if it’s just a stranger. Especially if it’s just a stranger, because, after all, a compliment from a stranger has no bias, no ulterior motive. It’s authentic. I’m going to keep doling them out. Cuz life is short and compliments are rare.
And furthermore…I dunno…if it were me jogging in Japan or Germany or Moscow, I’d like to think I would have opened my heart. I can usually suss out, in a matter of a fraction of a second, whether someone is up to no good. And after I let them in, if I find it was a mistake, I’d get over it. I don’t want to miss an opportunity to make a friend of a stranger. Even if it’s in passing. Even if it’s in a language I can barely understand. They could be trying to tell me something that raises me up for a very long time. Something that negates hostility, suspicion, fear. With all the absurdity going on in this world right now, isn't it worth it?