Multitudes of men in running shorts and sweat suits were infiltrating the women's stronghold at Waterfront Park and getting soaking wet. Athletically attired women were among them as well, but they weren't attracting nearly as much attention as the men. It was the annual Tom McCall run and it was raining. In Oregon, you can't call something off just because of a little drizzle--nothing would ever happen if you did.
Bare athletic thighs glistened in the rain, heads of hair of all lengths and varying degrees of abundance were plastered to scalps, and sweatshirts and T-shirts and jogging shorts were plastered to bodies, revealing nearly as much as any woman might want to know. A mob of women, protected from the rain by colorful umbrellas, was having the time of their lives. The men were rather uncertain what to make of it, although they were obviously the object of mass admiration. The women were turning the tables. The strike may have been eclipsed by the paranoid military adventures of a former B-grade film star, but the activists still had a few tricks up their sleeves.
"Look at those legs!" one woman gushed in a sexy-sounding drawl, and let out a long, low whistle.
The man whose legs were being so vocally praised ignored the comment with determination as he waited impatiently for the run to start.
"Cute ass!" was the audible admiration intended for another well-proportioned runner.
The admiration was apparently too audible for the paragon's taste. "Up yours, sweetheart!" he called over to his tormentor.
"When?" the woman called back.
Several spectators nearby laughed appreciatively. "My, but that one certainly has spirit, doesn't he?"
Suffering visibly from the excess attention, a few of the men had taken off from the park already, although the run hadn't officially started yet. Orderly lines and all sense of discipline had dissolved, washed away by the rain and the women.
"What do you guys think you're doing anyway?" another annoyed runner asked, hands on his hips and shorts plastered to thighs (as well as a few more interesting places.)
"Girls," a spectator corrected from underneath the safety of her umbrella.
"Women," her neighbor corrected her, accompanying her correction with a slight nudge of the elbow.
"We get this kind of unsolicited attention all the time," one woman said, shrugging her shoulders. "We just thought it was your turn!"
"And men always tell me I should appreciate it!" another woman added aggressively.
"I've never whistled at a woman in my life!" the man with his hands on his hips insisted.
"And I never will again," the jogger next to him promised fervently.
"Show some more leg, pretty boy!" a woman called out to another man, who apparently possessed a more pronounced sense of humor than the large majority of his fellow joggers. With a theatrically steamy glance at his audience, he lifted the hem of his shiny red jogging shorts and wiggled his butt. The women cheered wildly.
A whistle blew and the men ran, if not for their lives, then certainly as if demons were after them. The women with the umbrellas stayed where they were, laughing.