The Shoulder of The Jogger

The shoulder of the jogger. I had been looking to see if the jogger ahead of me was the jogger I’d passed previously. This “previous jogger” had worn a sleeveless shirt and had a tattoo of a kind I could not recall on her shoulder, while this “current jogger” had a shirt I’d call sky blue in coloration, and I was looking at the shoulder of it, and no tattoo could be seen there.

That corner of her shirt, –and I don’t believe I’m joking — although I may be joking– occurred to me as something vitally important. Looking at the figure of a woman is something that will engender in some sexual excitement. Sexual excitement derived from things that don’t seem sexual we call a fetish. I saw on this shoulder a kind of distillation of ordinariness, something so uninteresting, it seemed what my whole life was made of. Not sexual, not a fetish, not of interest, the fabric of everything. It was a sort of opposite of a fetish: a fixation on something that left me utterly lifeless and benumbed.

This jogger and I actually ran on opposite banks of the stream for a while after that. The trail on her side being far more meandering, I was surprised to she she’d caught up with me at George Mason, and I lost heart a bit when I lost track of her on Walter Reed… On reflection, it seemed to me my interest in this patch of shirt was like being enthralled by one coke can but not by any of the billions of others that are exactly like it. And it seemed a portal into the “dark matter” of our lives: the huge chunks of it we spend doing nothing in particular. (I guess I see the modernist project as unpacking exactly that “dark matter.”)

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