07 October 2008
Fifteen Miles and a Burberry Scarf
Every morning, when I roll out of my salmon-duveted bed, I lace up my Mizunos and head out to the Oxford University Parks, a whopping two blocks from my home on Crick Road.
One particularly fine morning, not too long ago, I headed out for a 10-lap, 15-mile training run (with a marathon on my mind). I ran around and around and, yes, around the Parks on a Sunday, passing well-dressed families headed back from church, couples eating ice cream and speaking French to one another, gaggles of neon-clad tweens gossiping about boys while sitting cross-legged, clumped together on the golden-green lawn. And I also passed a scarf.
It was grey. It was plaid. It was hanging over a fence, neatly folded, by the small lake where the white swans swim. Abandoned. Lonely. It was an ordinary scarf, nothing to write home about (even though that is precisely what I'm doing now), but it was beautiful. It looked like something left by a white-haired septuagenarian who carries a handkerchief in his breast pocket and a walking stick in his right hand. I fell in love - as much with the scarf as with its imagined owner. He was tall, with a deeply-lined face and sky blue eyes, and he walked his aging Jack Russell every morning twice around the Parks. He had a loyal wife, Eleanor, his Oxford sweetheart, who cooked him trout every Friday and talked about the Romantic poets with him over tea. He was softspoken. He was strong. He was a man of letters and a creature of habit. I could almost see him. And lap after lap I became more and more enchanted with this teeny plaid piece of my friend's life. So I decided: if the scarf was still there after 9 laps, solitary and desolate, I was going...to take it.
Now I know what you're thinking - this is straight-up thievery, Christye - but honestly: that scarf was there for TWO WHOLE HOURS, and no one was coming back for it. This kindly old man, probably named Nolan or Oliver, probably wearing a white linen suit and self-shined shoes, left it there FOR ME! I just know it. And when I trudged passed on my tenth and final lap (and trudge is an apt word for it, trust me) I reached out my hand and grabbed it.
It wasn't until I had jogged all the way home, showered and dressed and eaten enough hummus to refuel my tired body, that I realized: the scarf was Burberry. BURBERRY. And it retails for 185-250 pounds. That's nearly half-a-grand in U.S. dollars. So pretty much, I went for a 15-mile run, and ended up with a $500 scarf. Lesson learned, all: it pays to run.
Nolan-Oliver, if you're out there, surfing the net and reading my blog, I'm sorry that I stole your expensive scarf from a fence in the Parks. If you'd like it back, and would perhaps enjoy a cuppa while you're at it, jaunt on over to 8 Crick Road. I will be the one with the warm neck and sore knees.