I’ve become a jogger. Or at least, I’m going to try to be a good little jogger. Don’t get me wrong: I know myself well enough to know that I love my cabernet and whiskey, and I’ve long ago given up trying to give up smoking my beloved menthols (ridiculous tobacco taxes be damned!). But March was a total downer for me and it seemed time to add another identity to the cupboard of my psyche: jogger it is.
It is partly about exercise: sore thighs from running will do the same job as sore thighs from fucking to remind you that you have a physical existence outside of your mental one. But having been a muscle queen in my tweenies, I’m not new to the rigors of regimental exercise. It’s just that I haven’t carved out a place for it for a good decade—too busy being a wife and brain-spinner.
So being a jogger is partly about exercise, but partly about...a lovely pair of leggings. This Saturday, I went into the Niketown store in Union Square for the first time in a gazillion years, and spent the most satisfying $50 in recent memory, for a pair of black “dri-fit” leggings. And from the men’s department, no less! Men’s leggings they may be, but in a size small, they fit like stockings, with a discreetly dropped crotch for modesty, and a nice zippered backside marsupial pocket for keys and i-pod. Plus, the curved grey seaming is good and leg-lengthening for this bow-legged gal. So this athletic gear is actually very cute; glamorous, almost.
I was so eager to try these leggings out that I went for a run later that very same day. I don’t usually exercise at all during my teaching semesters. But during in the summer, I do like to go for a long run every few days. Surprisingly, I had a very nice run Saturday afternoon, making my usual four or so miles of the bike trail along I-80 in under 50 minutes, which was good for me—I hadn’t run since last year, and at least didn’t have to rest or anything. But then, I think I was encouraged by my jogging costume.
I paired the new leggings with an old t-shirt that was comfortably soft, but could be made beautiful with further breaking in: a 90s Van Halen shirt from their “For Unlawful Carnal Knolwedge” era, with a big rip near the appendix area. On my feet, I put on a pair of black suede New Balance trainers and white American Apparel footie socks—with red pom-poms at each Achilles heel. With my hair in a bumped-up Winehousey ponytail, I actually felt kinda cute.
Now, I never thought I’d be the kind of girl who dresses up to go to the gym. There were those in college—girls with showy sports bras, eyeliner/ shadow and lip gloss, lifting lady weights or doing slow crunches. Back then, in my white tank top and high on protein shakes, I’d scorn these gals as amateurs. And I still do believe this in principle: you work out to sweat, and when you sweat, you can’t look very cute. But there is something to “dressing up” to go jogging. On my path that afternoon, I crossed and felt kinship to both the woman jogging wearing a tank top that had a pattern of “bebe sport” and “glamorous” spelled out with sparkly beads AND the squat thuggish guy in heavy black sweat shirt, long shorts, and opaque shades. Dragging my body along the concrete curve on a forward path, fresh bay-air and freeway smog mixing into my air passage, endorphins gushing out of my glands, and Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s bootleg tracks and 90s handbag remixes of Boy George and Mariah pouring into my brain through my ear canals, feeling relatively cute and connected to disparate strangers, I thought: This is what it felt like when I used to go dancing every weekend.
It seemed both novel and natural to connect “jogger” and “dancer.” And suddenly I felt quite excited about “dressing up” to go jogging. I like it because I realized that it’s not much different from how I dress to go to a bar, and these days, I feel much better after jogging than I do after a typical evening at these increasingly homogenous gay bars. It felt liberating to attain a similar party high after doing something cleansing and dare I say, healthy. Although of course, after I finished my run and took a shower, I had to have a cigarette.