That’s right, he called me “ma’am.” And he completely made my run.
Who’s he? He is a young boy – maybe 11 or 12 – who looked just like my brother Stevie when he was little. He was very tall and hopelessly skinny, with legs that stretched ‘til tomorrow and thick, misbehaving hair whose red wisps poked out from below his perfectly fitted and obviously loved Red Sox hat.
I happened upon him the other day, about 3 miles into a not-so-effortless 5-mile run. Or, I happened upon his neon yellow softball.
“Ma’am,” he hollered from across a rush-hour filled Center Street, “Can you please throw me my ball?”
And without a thought, I stopped running, stooped down, grabbed the ball before it rolled to the dreaded sewer, grabbed it and waited for a space in the traffic before I wound up (eat your heart out, Papelbon) and tossed it to him.
“Goooooooooooood throw,” he yelled. And he meant it. I think.
And with that, I smiled, he thanked me, and I headed home – with a spring in my step. It’s the little things, I guess, that keep me going after a long day at work or a stressful, uncomfortable run.
Seeing the boy in the ball cap reminded me of being young, playing catch in the backyard or wildly chasing a ball to prevent its certain demise in the sewer.
Also: I find that if it’s not a fellow runner (and even sometimes when it is), the person you pass on the street in Newton rarely says “hello”, let alone engages in a friendly conversation. Long runs can get lonely and sometimes all you need to pass the time is a little reminder of the good old days and a healthy dose of encouragement.