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Run 4: Euro-cologne

January 8, 2012

Length: 8-ish miles

Other runners: 4

The truth is that at some point in 2010 I became a totally unoriginal runner. In Seattle, where tiny houses boast mysterious, endlessly blossom-filled front yards and Microsoft mansions out-do one another with meticulously-planted ferns, original -local- lawn art,  and an appropriately diverse (read: Benzes and BMWs) collection of family automobiles, it was easy to settle into one or two neighborhood routes. So many distractions, architecture- and foliage-wise, consumed me for hours. I was also, admittedly, more than once propelled over hills by what was most certainly disgust and/or jealousy for such lavish displays of wealth. Here’s what an “average” single-family home might look like in Seattle:

I did not know what I would find on today’s run, and it was, for better or worse, not any of the above. I ran west on Irving Park, encouraged to find a nearby library and the ornate Patio Theater, which opened in 1927, closed some thirty years later, and is now running films for $5 a pop.

After that, things deteriorated quickly, running wise. The traffic was loud, sidewalks cracked, and views included empty lots, fluorescent signs, and the occasional mini-mall. On the calm side streets, houses looked the same (single-level, brick, sometimes a small dog) and only occasionally boasted a tree or two. Runnable? For sure. Fun? Not so much. Did I become a spoiled runner in Seattle? Yes, definitely.

About thirty minutes in, I silently breathed what I’m sure was not the most profound prayer ever to be uttered: “Dear God, could this run please not suck so much?” In a happy bit of serendipity, I soon became spectacularly lost and ended up somewhere on Belmont.

Here’s what I discovered:

On Harlem, between Belmont and Addison, there is a true Italian deli that boasts home-made sausages and imported mozzarella. There is also Capponie’s Trattoria: “Pizza you can’t refuse!” Forgive me, friends, but I think that’s catchy.

“MOWIMY POLSKA” means “We speak Polish.” It is not, sadly, someone’s name.

There is apparently a popular phenomenon I can only call “Euro-cologne” in our new neighborhood. [This sort of generalization is most likely inappropriate for a young anthropologist to make. In the spirit of ethical considerations, I should also admit that I’ve included photos in this post that I did not myself take. I found them on the web.] I smelled Euro-cologne on nearly every young man I passed- those standing outside St. John of Rila Bulgarian Church, others heading into a Polish deli, or the two smoking next to Portage Park’s very own “Club Euro.” It is the same scent our very kind French landlord wears. It makes me glad Bijan sticks solely to deodorant.

It was sunny and not too cold, and my body was happy to move. The end.


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  1. A Friend permalink

    Ale nie znasz polską ! Jest to jednak dopuszczalne. I wciąż cię kocham.
    Happy Running!
    -A friend (who wears no cologne)

  2. You almost make me want to run my dear! Mostly to find the nearest fresh mozzarella though, which might be defeating the point 🙂 Come back and run in lovely Seattle again soon!

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