The Layer Slayer

No more layersThe thing about the desert is this: it’s hot. Or it’s cold. But mostly it’s hot, so when it does get cold some of us desert dwellers don’t have the proper attire. I’ve lived in the Phoenix area all of my life and have never owned a heavy coat.

Well, there was the time someone from a colder state gave me one of those big puffy coats that made me look like the Michelin Man. The kids had to get together and stuff me through the doorway to get outside. That sucker was so hot that I actually lost weight while wearing it, so it stood in a corner of the closet until spring when I gave it to Goodwill – and felt guilty at pawning it off on them. I told them it was a child’s sub-zero sleeping bag. And by “stood” I mean it was so stiff that it actually stood on its own. No hanger needed.

Oh, I have some sweaters but they’re mainly decorative and to hide my rolls of fat. So what do I do when it’s cold outside and I go for a run? I layer up like those Russian nesting dolls!

For example, last night it was 52 degrees and dropping quickly so I started with a thin short sleeve shirt. On top of that I wore one of my two long sleeve shirts, on top of which I wore my other long sleeve shirt. A nice bright one. Then came the gloves and warm cap. Normally, I just wear a yamaka to cover my bald spot and I’m good, but it was a little colder last night so I opted for the full cap. No, I’m not Jewish. Then some shorts and I was out the door.

I know what you’re thinking: dress warm on top and just shorts on the bottom? Hey, don’t discount the benefit of hairy legs – nature’s furry leggings. Having said that, I realize I have just given you ladies food for thought. But I also know that winter means long pants and no pressure to shave your legs. I’m married. I know.

So off I went, thick on top and bare chicken-legged on bottom, looking like one of those cartoon musclemen. Breath puffing like a locomotive, I gathered steam and quickly warmed up to cruising speed, surveying the neighborhood Christmas decorations and waving to pedestrians walking their dogs. Everyone was friendly, “Hey, didn’t I see you on that Bugs Bunny cartoon?”… “Yes, you did.”

There are some drawbacks to running loops by my house (like it can get boring), but some advantages are that I can make pit stops, refill water bottles, and in this case, shed a layer of clothing. After two passes, I was down to a comfortable layer and looking more proportional – not feeling like I might topple over.

Now I have to go off on a tangent here because there is a weird phenomenon that happens on many of my runs. Raise your hand if it has happened to you. I call it “The Corner Convergence”.

My two and three mile routes both run along a main street for about three-quarters of a mile, but the rest of the way they wind through quiet neighborhoods and fields with little traffic. I’ll be running on my merry way, murdering Eye of the Tiger at the top of my lungs with no one in sight. Then, as I approach a corner, all of a sudden a car or two will show up out of thin air and we all arrive at the same time. Crap! Now I have to stop to be sure they see me. Are they going to let me cross?

Young Woman Driving Car. Windshield View
Do you feel lucky, punk?

It’s like a game of Chicken and this is what goes through their heads: “I’ll let you go first because you’re on foot. But as soon as you go, I will start and then we’ll all stop again and stare at each other.”

In the end, I will paste on a smile and wave them ahead because I learned long ago that you have to be friendly when you are running. Well, have you ever seen an angry runner? No. There you go. So either that or I will avoid the situation all together and alter my route, pretending it was my intention all along to run through the honey bee farm. Until the next corner when I go through the whole routine all over. Please tell me I’m not the only one to experience this.

Getting to the end of my run came the tricky part. I was sweaty with just a thin shirt and shorts on and the light breeze had picked up to a gale force wind. In this situation, there is no cool down process. It is a flash freeze. (You can find me next to the frozen peas in the grocery store.) So the “cool down” was abbreviated to a half block as I gathered my clothes from around the front yard and a neighbor’s bush and tried to punch in the garage door code with shivering hands. Miss. Miss. Got it!

Then, I will tell you, there is nothing as heavenly as the hot shower and footy pajamas that followed. Hot chocolate anyone?

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