I was driving somewhere earlier today to do something that I’m pretty sure was important. Or it was important then. Probably had to get some triple A batteries or fat free creamer and coffee pods. It was in August and typical for my Ohio town the road that I needed was closed for maintenance, making me detour through neighborhoods I’ve never been in before to get back out to the main road beyond the repairs.

It was a well-manicured neighborhood with matching mailboxes, trimmed lawns, and clean precisely edged crack-free sidewalks. As I slowly drove behind the other detourees, I saw an older gentleman, probably in his mid 70’s, walking a little puffy white dog. Despite the heat he was dressed in polyester slacks, dress shoes, undershirt, polo shirt, and a light cardigan sweater. He topped this ensemble off with a swimming pool blue bucket hat with a dark blue and beige hat band. The dog had a matching pool blue harness.

This outfit could be in one of those mysterious catalogues that appear in your mail on Tuesdays with the local free newspaper and the coupon packs. I imagine a section called “Cul-de-sac Splendid” with all the summers trends that are perfect for walking your dog.

Of course, there would be a sidebar for environmentally friendly biodegradable vegan poop bags and locally sourced glow in the dark for safety pooper scoopers that include a convenient built-in hand sanitizer cartridge in the handle (refills sold separately).

I was brought out of my daydream by the motion of two teenage boys jogging towards the man and dog, the distance between closing quickly. It looked like they were out doing their pre-season sports conditioning, the daily running required for high school track or football.

The boys were in gym shorts and expensive running shoes, sweating freely, but their pace allowed them to talk while they ran. One tall and thin, ropey muscles like a cross-country runner, the other medium height and powerfully built for combat. Football or wrestling would be my guess.

The traffic moved toward them and they to us, and as they approached man and dog the tall boy said “on your left” to let the pair know they were passing.

The boys sized them up as they passed, man and dog doing the same.

The man and dog had stopped in place and the boys ran around and passed them in a single file, returning to in-step, side by side running about 10 yards down the pristine sidewalk.

In that moment what I saw was telling from them all.

The boys looked at this man and his dog and saw what was before them as a possible future for themselves. There was a flash of dread on their faces, but their youth was not equipped with the depth of life to comprehend it, so they turned to humor for processing. They would never be THAT old, and if they were they would not be wearing THOSE clothes, and for sure not with a little white puff ball dog like THAT…right? Right?

What I intuited was these young men truly believed that if they just kept on running, they could outrun that future.

The older man, I now think of him as Frank and the dog as Snowball, watched as the boys ran around and past. His neck and spine stiff, he had to turn his whole body to track them. What I saw as dread in the boys I saw as longing for the past in Frank.

It may be that the last time he ran with a buddy was in the military, preparing for his war. Those stories now living only as yellowed, brittle black and white photos in plastic faux wood frames beside his recliner in the TV room.

They say that war is hell, but I can see, so is aging.

All the while Snowball has been standing at Frank’s feet, with nose raised, sniffing the wake of the runners now nearing the end of the block.

The car in front of me begins to move and I return to my world. I’m not sure where I’m going for a moment, wait, triple A batteries, and something else, I’m sure of it there was another thing.

In the rearview mirror I see Snowball circling, still can’t decide where to poop.