Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Toilet Humor For The Dinner Table

Rogers/34th Street 7.75mi

A weeklong battle with what turned out to be bronchitis forced me to take a few days off from my training schedule. I finally went to the “doctor” and got a prescription for a new single dose antibiotic. I think this stuff basically irradiates your insides and only leaves the buildings. Without being too specific, I’ll just say that when I dropped the kids off at the pool they were all Caucasians. Frightening!
I managed to make it back from my illness in time for my long run. Lately I’ve been thinking about the socioeconomic profiles of the neighborhoods that I normally run in and I’ve realized that most of my routes are through middle to upper middleclass white neighborhoods. I played around a little with a GoogleMaps mashup that imbeds maps with US Census data, and I started looking around the area for neighborhoods of different ethnicities and incomes. With a general idea of the areas that I wanted to cover, I decided not to preplan my route. This allowed me to explore more freely based on what I saw, and I simply ran for the amount of time that I thought it would take me to cover the requisite seven miles.
I start out headed east towards Old Seminole Heights where I take a lap around Lake Roberta with the other evening joggers and the ducks before continuing east on Henry Street. I had noticed on the aerials that Henry is one of the few streets that crosses the railroad tracks east of 22nd Street, and it goes through a more diverse, and generally poorer, part of town.
I figure that at my slowest pace I’ll run a twelve-minute mile, so if I want to run seven miles I should run for 1hour and 24 minutes. If I run any faster, the extra mileage will just be a bonus.
As I move east on Henry, gradually the wooden privacy fences turn to chain link, and kids on bikes making ramps out of plywood and cinderblocks supplant the joggers and strollers. I haven’t eaten much today, and I start to notice the smell of food being prepared as it floats out onto the street. For whatever reason, I think that poorer families tend to eat dinner earlier. Blue-collar workers usually start and finish their shifts earlier than white-collar workers, and roofing just builds more of an appetite than web design. At six in the evening, this neighborhood is filled with the smells of barbeque and cornbread.
At 34th Street I turn towards the river and follow River Grove until it meets Willie Black Drive on its way to the Rogers Park Golf Course. Named for the prominent black business leader G.D. Rogers, in Tampa's days of segregation Rogers Park was the only city park where blacks were allowed to picnic and later, to golf. I have been wondering if there is a way through the golf course that crosses Rowlett Park Drive, but I haven’t been able to find anything obvious on the aerials. I follow the cart paths west over the first two holes and find a shortcut along the railroad tracks into the Hobo Jungle.
Following Park Circle back to the west reverses the socioeconomic progression of the first half of the run, and I think about the median incomes rising slightly with each step. The sun has begun to set, and in the fading light I’m forced to rely on my other senses. I move forward, guided by the sound of my footsteps on the road, the taste of salt on my shirt as I touch it to my face, the aches in my feet from a new pair of shoes, and again the enticing aroma of food. It’s as if I’m riding the crest of this olfactory wave, where the forces of economics, leisure, culture, and cuisine come together to produce a dinnertime node that moves forward at about eleven minutes per mile. The smoke of the barbeque grills has softened to become a roast in the oven followed by the distinct fragrance of garlic and onions sautéing in olive oil. I run on in the dark past women in kitchen windows and men smoking cigars on porches.
At home I can smell my own dinner as I walk past the house for a brief cool down, and I open the door to a room filled with chicken parmesan and Jan setting the table. I drop my sweaty clothes, wrap myself in a towel, and sit down, shirtless, to eat.


Anonymous julie g said...

In 1997, I jogged through Astoria, Queens, NY, where the households were Greek and Italian. That smell you described of onions and garlic frying in olive oil was exactly like the one I encountered, but mixed with rosebushes, which fat ladies cared for while waving at me when I plodded by. Sigh. Now I feel nostalgic. I envy your discoveries. It makes me want to run again.

8:13 AM  

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