Squirt Me (Morning Hero)
Today is perfect. The sun is out, the air is cool and a little humid, the tide is medium-low and the sea smells delicious. I’m having a great run— a little fast, legs behaving, breathing easy and slow. The smells of summer fill me with each breath, and I take in the scent of sweet almond by Waring Field on South Street, wondering if it’s a weed or wild herb that reminds me so much of Christmas marzipan.
I’m early today, as I have been the past couple of weeks. Setting my cell phone alarm to wake me at 5:30 in case the birds fail their summer job, each morning I pop out of the bed, gulp a cup of coffee while I check my email, then wait to be as empty as possible before hitting the road. It’s been so hot lately that even I, lover of summer and heat, need to run early if I’m going to run at all.
I turn at the fork leading to Cape Hedge Beach, and suddenly feel the sting of sweat in my eyes. The cool air has gone; the sun heats the pavement and I realize just how humid the day is turning. I reach to wipe my brow and my hand slips off my skin, skidding down my cheek and onto my chest. I am soaked. I need to cool off.
And then I see my hero, although he doesn’t know it yet. He’s standing at the foot of his driveway in his ragged khaki shorts, rubbing his belly with one hand and yawning. In his other hand he holds a hose with the nozzle set at a steady spray. He’s watering grass seed— he looks like he just rolled out of bed and into his yard, thinking only that the seed must be watered immediately. He is not even wearing a shirt, and looks like he could seriously use a big mugful of coffee. He turns to me as I approach and smiles a slow, sleepy smile.
I rip my right ear bud out of my ear.
“Good morning. Squirt me?”
Would you mind just squirting me with that hose?”
He squints a little at me, thinking about it. He rubs his head now, puzzled, and his unruly curls seem to hold his hand hostage for a moment. He moves the hand to his hip, still thinking.
“Go ahead! Just once. I’m only three miles into my run and no one has a sprinkler on yet. Please?”
He looks dubious, like I might not mean it, and a little nervous, like I might grab that hose right out of his hand. I wave my hand across the front of my body, showing him the area to aim for and he takes a visible, deep, decisive breath. He turns the hose in my direction and then the feeling of that fresh, cold water is heavenly. It’s over all too quickly, but it’s enough. I smile and take my hand to catch a little of the water running down my shirt. I run the cool water onto my face and a tiny breeze touches my skin and the water and I am cool.
He waves and grins a much more awake smile than the one he gave me a minute ago.
“No problem! Have a great run!”
I wave and take off, refreshed and ready to take on another seven miles.