Black Shorts

Confession:  I completely check out runners. Male, female–I’m looking to see who it is, what they’re doing, you name it. I look at every runner I ever see in our neighborhood. And if they’re regular runners, they wind up with a nickname.

Angry Woman:  this lady runs like she is stomping out roaches or kicking the stuff out of an old boyfriend. She’s often hurt and limping around inbetween running bouts. I always want to pull over and offer some form tips.

RoboWoman:  I can’t really take credit for this nickname; James gave it to her. This woman is a metronome, a machine. She’s usually walking at a brisk pace carrying hand weights.

Huff-Huff Man:  this poor guy sounds like a freight train coming or a heart attack waiting to happen. He doesn’t breathe hard; he pants. When the house windows are open, I can hear him coming.

The Fuzz:  an elderly gentleman who is abundantly blessed in the chest hair department. Naturally, he frequently runs shirtless.

Lister:  this poor guy runs with a definite skew (I think he may have had a stroke, so I feel kind of bad about the nickname, though it is meant to be merely descriptive and not pejorative).

God’s Gift:  a little something for the ladies. He frequently runs in jean shorts, gold chain, and no shirt–approximately late 50s.

And then there is Black Shorts. Black Shorts probably thinks I am a weird stalker woman or lonely housewife or just plain crazy person. I avidly watch Black Shorts because, clearly, he is always training for something. And he is out there at a relatively weird time; I usually spot him in my neighborhood in the 3-4:00 p.m. time frame. In Austin, it is freaking HOT at this time. Black Shorts is not a fast runner (I’m probably faster, if that tells you anything) but he is dedicated. He’s a clean-shaven guy, including the head, who always wears longer black shorts. If he wears a shirt, it’s usually sleeveless and black, though most of the time, he is carrying it wadded up in his hand. He’s a bigger guy–I don’t mean fat; he’s very fit. He’s just a solid guy, not a twiggy runner dude.

When I drive by, I always smile and make eye contact. And one time, several years ago, I actually spoke to him. I was looking for something in the pasta aisle at HEB I realized I had company. When I turned to look, I immediately recognized Black Shorts. We stood there, scanning the shelves, and finally I thought, “What the hell?” and turned to say, “I hope you don’t think I’m nuts but I see you running all the time. Are you training for something?” An extremely awkward and very brief conversation about some marathon followed. Um, yeah.

And so now, when I drive by and see him running along and we make eye contact, I wonder what nickname he has for me. Perhaps he thinks, “Crap, there’s crazy Spaghetti again.”  lol

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Published by Leah Nyfeler

I'm a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I've come to learn it. In addition to my blog "Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life" at, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

0 thoughts on “Black Shorts

  1. I love it! For a while we had a lot of very odd neighborhood exercisers, and we affectionately referred to them as the freaks of the neighborhood. There was Unicycle Guy and his son Unicycle Boy, who sometimes rode with a dog on a leash alongside. There was Plastic Man, who ran wearing one of those plastic sweat suits – long pants, long sleeves, black, and always at the hottest part of the day. There was Soccer Dude, who ran dribbling a soccer ball. Sadly they\’ve all disappeared from the neighborhood. But there\’s still Happy Cycling Guy, who has a recumbent 3 wheeler. He rides with headphones, a dog running beside him, and the biggest smile I\’ve ever seen. Every time.

  2. Ha. I nickname everyone, too. Eeeeeeeveryone. Neighborhood denizens. Bus people. People in my building. Half the time I don\’t even realize I\’ve nicknamed someone until someone makes reference to that guy down the hall, and I\’m like, \”Who, StinkyLeftovers?\” I\’m glad to find a kindred spirit!

    I\’d never thought that people nickname me in return. Now I\’m concerned.

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