I run regularly at a local county park with a lot of trails in the foothills. I’ve noticed something about running there that changed in the last few years. When I was in my 20’s I was in good shape and when I passed an unaccompanied girl on the trails (okay, feminists, a “young woman”) she would sometimes make eye contact and smile at me or return mine. Sometimes she would initiate it, sometimes I would. I suppose I was a potential boyfriend candidate in their minds. By my 30’s, and lasting through my 60’s, they seldom made eye contact or acknowledged a wave, nod, or smile. I remained in good shape through those years, and I’m still very fit for someone in his 70’s. But that didn’t seem to matter. I’ve noticed that now that I’m there, pretty girls (I’m including quite a few 40- and 50-year old “girls” in that term, since one’s perspective does change with age) will once again often smile at me or at least acknowledge a wave or nod. They usually are passing me nowadays, but whatever.
Recently a very good-looking young woman named Elisha (phonetic) caught up to me from behind and started chatting when she drew alongside. She ran with me for almost a mile before splitting off a different direction. I could take this as a compliment since she was obviously a serious runner preparing for a race and probably took me for the same, since I was wearing my half-marathon T-shirt, but I could also take it as an unintended insult. I think she and other young women are now willing to make eye contact and smile because they no longer see me as a potential threat. I just look too old. My hair is almost totally white, and despite being slim and fit, my age is evident. I don’t blame them for ignoring me all those other times; there are a number of creeps out there and all the experts say to avoid eye contact with men, etc. I was just as harmless then as now, but they had no way to know that. Now I appear to be a #safe70. It makes me a bit rueful to be perceived that way, but on the other hand, I enjoy having a run and chat with a pretty girl from time to time, so I should consider myself fortunate, I suppose, because it can now happen again.