So, I looked at him and shrugged.
"Sure. What do you want to know?"
"How many miles do you run every week?"
Ok, definitely not what I thought he was going to ask, though to be honest, I didn't really know what a shirtless street hockey player in front of the White House would inquire about.
"Um, it depends on what I'm training for," I said, as I made a subtle move to continue my run.
But he kept talking.
"Oh. But why would you run? It's not fun."
At this point, the guy is being borderline offensive.
"Well, why do you play hockey? That doesn't seem like very much fun either," I retorted.
"But hockey isn't hard. Running is hard. What do you do for fun?" he persisted.
I wracked my brain. Is it wrong that it has naturally filed running into the fun category?
"Triathlons?" I said, knowing that this wasn't going to be the right answer either.
"How about dating? Do you date?"
Ah, finally, he cuts to the chase.
"Yes, I date."
"Yes, I date guys," I said.
"Do you want to date me?" he asked.
Give the him points for courage. Or maybe he's been hit in the head several times with a puck.
"Why would I want to do that?" I asked, thinking it was a fair question to pose, under the circumstances.
Clearly he wasn't prepared to answer.
"Because I'm going to be famous one day," he said...not very creatively.
"Oh really. What for?" I asked.
"I'm going to write a book about my life," he said.
"Is your life really that fascinating?"
"It might be," he said, handing over his digits, which began with a Northern Virginia area code.
"Ah, well, I'll take my chances--if it's meant to be, I'm sure I'll run into you again one day," I said.
"But I'm not the kind of person who will remember the little people, so you should call me," he said. "Or, you can give me your number and I'll call you."
"I'm moving out of DC tomorrow, but if you ever find yourself wandering through Northeastern Pennsylvania or Manhattan, perhaps our paths will cross again," I said, now not-so-subtly moving away.
"Ok, but I could have made you famous, too," he said.
"How do you know I wouldn't have made you famous instead?"
"I guess we'll never know," he said. "But with all that running you do, I doubt it."
I've run hundreds--perhaps more--miles in DC in four years, but that was the first pick-up attempt I've experienced while pounding the pavement. It reminded me of one thing that has taken me by surprise while living in Washington: how often my love of running has factored into the dating equation.
There was the Coast Guard guy who smoked cigarettes behind my back, but in an act of desperation to spend time with me one fall Saturday morning, tagged along on a 17-mile training run (the farthest he had ever gone before was 6 miles...once). There was the oh-so-attractive guy with the adorable dog, who couldn't understand why I continually chose to rise with the roosters to run before work, instead of getting drunk with him every night at the bar du jour. And then there was the Ironman, who was even more obsessed with his schedule than I.
I reminded myself that part of the reason I decided to move on is to help regain perspective and balance--something I've been lacking for far too long -- and not just on the dating scene. I guess my little street hockey guardian angel was there to hand me some of that perspective I am looking for: running is one thing that makes me happy, no matter where I am. And that's not a bad thought to have when the big moving truck is scheduled to pull up in the morning.
But as I arrived at the door of my apartment building, ending my last run as a DC resident, I began to question whether those movers will ever actually arrive.
To be continued.