My weirdest running encounter

Do not take this inaugural post as emblematic of my new blog. Marianna reminded me of this incident. She was there in our apt, #302 on Benvenue Ave in Berkeley, when I first told it, still in shock.

Running eight miles on a Saturday morning down to 24th St. in Oakland was nothing to me in college. It was something I did.  Someone once mentioned a shooting in Rockridge, the safe part of my route, but it didn’t register. On Fridays, a long run was what I needed to get me moving and out of my apt. Otherwise no class on Fridays meant extended lounging about and restless indecisive energy.

Reaching the Korean market on 24th St was my goal. After a straight shot down College Ave from my apartment, I didn’t know where I was going. I was running, without a smart phone or any phone in Oakland, an infamously ghetto neighborhood.

At the market on 24th and  Telegraph, I could relax, usually. I’d made it. Homestretch from here. If I was really tired, I walked. And I wasn’t one to walk. While I was walking, finally back in Berkeley near nondescript businesses a middle-aged bearded guy spoke to me. I was still on my runner’s high, where even my shoes don’t hit the ground, but what feels like pockets of air.

“I’m a Nike shoe designer. Can I see your shoe?” the guy says. I lift my foot up, so the sole of my purple Nike shoe faces him. He slides two or three fingers in my sock. There is no transition into this. I see it, but it can’t be happening.  My memory blacks out here. The seconds his fingers were in my sock, on my sweaty foot are blocked out I guess.

I run home. Later, I begin feeling violated. But right after, all I feel is shock. An ordinary guy, whose face I cannot picture, did this. I’m sweaty from eight miles or more of running, red-faced and also wearing Nike shorts. I’m thankful he didn’t claim to be a Nike shorts designer.


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