Let me put your mind at ease right from the start -- no. No, it was not. No sense in stretching out the drama for no reason.
Because -- equally frightening -- it was me. Or to be more precise, it was the reflection of me that I glimpsed in the mirror on my door: the horrifying sight of myself, in full, glorious, total deconstruction after completing a long run.
Some women look gorgeous in their running regalia. They have daintily feminine, tight little racer-back tops paired with vibrant capris, color-coordinated wicking socks, and gorgeous, to-die-for multicolored running shoes. They have their perfectly pony-tailed, long, flowing, Rapunzel-like blonde locks (they're always blonde, aren't they? --insert jealous smirk here--), and their adorable matching Bondi-bands, and they almost prance across those finish lines, feet barely touching the tarmac.
Next, the challenge of my hair. I have worn my hair short for decades and just last year caved to the pleas of my youngest son who wore me down with his constant begging for me to "just grow it out and let me see what it looks like long, Mom." He said he had never seen me with long hair. Not true. I have shown him photos of me in high school, after swearing him to secrecy and threatening I would boot him out of the will if he ever breathed a word of them to anyone. My suspicion is he has this idea that if only my hair were long, I would look like the mothers of his friends, who are all petite blondes with large breasts who formerly worked at Victoria's Secret and are a good quarter-century younger than I. It's heart-breaking, I know.
But back to the hair. Red hair, not really flaming, but bright enough out under that merciless, God-forsaken, galaxy-sweat-inducing sun and when I've let it fade longer than the recommended 4-6 weeks, which is most of the time because do we really need to spend $160 to get our hair dyed? But that's the subject of another blog, I am sure. The hair. The hair is the thing. So, anyway, I have been letting this red shade of hair grow out for a while and now I have it in a sort of chin-length bob. Not a bad look when I'm all cleaned up, but definitely sort of Carol-Burnett-playing-Norma-Desmond when I'm in the midst of my plague (read my first blog post) or during/after a run.
So, the other day, I was at the end of a long run, and I shambled upon a neighbor I had not seen in a while, with his two young children in tow. The girl looked at me in absolute HORROR. She actually turned her body away from me -- can you imagine?? THAT is how much she could not bear the sight of me! Ok, I knew I looked bad, but do people not teach their children manners anymore? Do they not instill that when you see a 53-year-old woman who has run many, many, many, many miles (at least two) in the broiling 43-degree heat, it is not polite to involuntarily curl your lip in disgust? Gimme a break, I knew I looked horrible! It was misty out too, which was definitely NOT my fault. My hair is fairly curly, which I fight every day to tame into that dang Desmond bob and when damp (either from sweat or rain-- so take your pick, it is always damp when I run), and I am wearing my Nike headband with the rubber grips to keep that &%$@ sweat out of my eyes (which I had surgically improved -- yeah, yeah, fodder for another blog post)-- my hair starts to poke up in little spikes all over my head. Not attractive, cool, punk-rock kind of spikes -- noooOOOoooo, God forbid I look cool -- it forms these awkward, lumpy (yes, I know I already used that word earlier in describing my body), alien little masses all over my head.
And my face was a bright, mottled red that I can only compare to our English bulldog Boudreaux's flubber when I take him to the vet and he gets overexcited and starts hyperventilating.
So you can see why perhaps I was a little startled and mistook my reflection as Boo Radley hiding behind my door.
My husband disagreed with me, however. "I don't think you look like Boo Radley at all. You look more like Michael Keaton in Beetlejuice."
His bad luck -- he can't outrun me.