Sunday, September 20, 2009


Okay, to be honest, there wasn’t even a hello.

Ever show up for something and realize in a split second you’ve made a mistake? Wonder how to get out of it ASAP?

I gave the Saturday morning session of Frontrunners a try, figuring it would be a larger group than the Tuesday night cluster. More social, too, with brunch following the run. I set my alarm for 6:40, only a half hour earlier than my usual awakening but still ungodly for a weekend. After walking the dogs in a chilly 45˚F, I shaved, showered and tried on a couple of warmer jogging outfits. Always important to make the best first impression. I made it into Ottawa in under an hour, slathered on some sunblock and strode over to the group of runners outside city hall.

My reception was the equivalent to a doggy snub: a quick sniff and turn. No need to smile unless one of these guys had eyes in the back of his head. Good thing I still needed to stretch. I needed something to do as filler after The Great Snub. Thinking about alternate breakfast plans also helped time crawl by. Coffee to go or should I have a seat and wait once more for that movie moment when Mr. Good Looking Sane and Single (and Too Fit to Bother with a Running Group) needs to share my table for some contrived, yet charming reason?

When it came time for announcements, I learned that today was going to be a 2K run. Two kilometers?! For a group of avid runners?! What was the point? I drove an hour to get an instant brush-off and to run a piddly 2K?! Apparently there was a marathon/half marathon the next day so no one wanted to overexert. Now I would never consider running either of the race distances so hats off to them, but, if you’re a marathoner—that’s 42K and some change—isn’t 2K just a warm-up? Wouldn’t sleeping in have been a better way to rest up?

Ah, what do I know?

When the group dispersed, I was on my own. I may sound snarky, but I think that’s warranted after schlepping to the city to run solo in a running group. I kept pace behind four men who were oblivious to my existence and I felt relieved after they all turned back, leaving me to officially run on my own along Ottawa’s picturesque Rideau Canal. Thank goodness for the gorgeous backdrop. In my forty plus years of visiting Ottawa almost annually, I’d never taken in the canal on foot. A silver lining, cool yet shimmering in the sun.

When I finally got to driving home—oh, I sipped that coffee in a café, but Prince Charming must have gotten his to go—there was no way to block out the feeling of rejection. Why do I feel like I’m back in high school when I’m in a new gay scenario? That moment of instant ostracism was brutal. What happened to adults making new folks feel welcome? I’d like to think I haven’t done that to others, but I’m sure there were times when I didn’t care to make the effort to include an outsider. Sometimes I’ve shown up for a group just to mix with the few I’m most familiar with. There’s comfort and safety in that. Still, I know there have been many times I’ve spotted the loner and struck up a conversation. Not as a pickup, but as the decent thing to do. If I can do that as a painfully shy and self-conscious person, I should expect at least one of a gay pack to do the same when I’m the odd man out.

I won’t go back to the running group. If I want to run along the canal, I can do that once again on my own. I’ll just pick a time that works for me. The next round of rejection will have to come from another source.

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