I love May.
It’s that special time of year when live music is played exclusively on patios, potato salad sounds like a delicious idea, and you find yourself randomly purchasing a bocce ball set. It’s also the month when everyone and their grandma, baby, and puppy will spend every spare evening on Riverside.
Yes, River Parks and Trail along Riverside is teeming with all kinds of people, from the serious athletes to families strolling in their Sunday best. Being a bit of a Riverside enthusiast myself, I’ve developed a sort of field guide for any of you Oklahomans that might find yourself on Tulsa’s finest public amenity in the near future. Check out my unofficial, unauthorized and only slightly offensive anthropological report after the jump.
(Editor’s Note: If you insert random references to rollerblading, kiteboarding and/or those weird guys who fly model airplanes, this could double for Lake Hefner.)
Aspiring Runners: You can easily spot this genus by watching out for pristine Nikes, panting on benches, and anyone soft or pale in appearance. Don’t be embarrassed, we’ve all been there before. We all must figuratively walk before we run. Here’s a couple pointers if you’re new to the running thing – which may or may not have been me two weeks ago.
A) Ditch the liter of Gatorade you’re trying hold while running. Not only does it immediately alert everyone who passes you of you noob status, but I’m pretty sure carrying large vessels makes you considerably less aerodynamic.
B) To look less pathetic when you need to catch your breath after a quarter of a mile, crouch down and pretend like you’re re-tying your shoes or about to do some stretching. In extreme cases, lay on your back in the grass with your knees up and hands behind your head so it looks like you’re about to do sit-ups. Everyone might have thought I “ran” cross country in high school, but I actually just spend a lot of time laying in crunch position wearing expensive workout gear.
C) Disregard any chatter about carb-loading, running gel, over-supination, or sprinting spikes. Those are out of your league, cowboy.
Earnest Athletes: On the opposite end of the spectrum, we’ve got the uber-serious and lightening-fast road athletes, who take their running/biking/in-line skating very, very seriously. You can spot this crowd by looking for team singlets, Oakleys, helmets, and deep looks of intense concentration. You guys, this is why the city of Tulsa spent a ton of money and several years building a separate, parallel trail which segregates the serious athletes from the general masses. These cyclists are going FAST, speeding to train for Tulsa Tough or to get to a funny unitard convention, and you best pay attention when they shout to tell you which side you’re getting lapped on. If you do not heed their warning, your doughy ass will get taken out faster than you can say “Chapeau!” The long distance runners, in-line skaters, and moms powerwaking with aerodynamic, three-wheeled strollers don’t take a much softer stance when it comes to loiterers getting in the way of their mission either. Really, if you seen anyone on the trail panting, it’s best that you get out of their way. Speaking of heavy breathing…
Gay Solicitors: It’s well known and accepted fact that if you’re a politician or a music worship leader and looking for a little M4M fun, the bathroom stalls at the 41st and Riverside plaza is the hottest place to hang. My only grievance with this practice is that logistically, it seems a bit uncomfortable. The natural canopy formed by unpruned fir trees–or you know, a standard Motel 6–seem like they’d be a little more aesthetically pleasing than on top of a scrubby unisex toilet.
Leisurely Strollers: If you ever see a slow-moving herd of people in street clothes, you know that you’ve come across the most casual kind of Riverside user. If Riverside dwellers was a party, the leisurely strollers would be that person who nurses a single beer all evening and goes home at 9:00. If the people who play on Riverside were this year’s Thunder team, these people would all be Hasheem Thabeet. They kind of just take up valuable space and don’t contribute much else.
The good thing about leisurely strollers is that they’re usually just there on a random whim, and probably won’t return again anytime soon. So if you accidentally trip a little kid while sprinting intervals or a dog leash gets tangled in your bike wheels, you don’t need to be overly concerned about maintaining good relations with that said individual. Just pet the kid, kiss the dog’s boo-boo, and be on your merry way.
Wannabe Adventurers: Skateboarders, hackey-sack professionals, disc golf players, park-core enthusiasts, people who rollerskate in groups, and recreational soccer, rugby, and volleyball players, I’m talking to you. In addition to being ridiculously friendly and probably eco-friendly, can also spot this genus by their retro attire and spontaneously posing for Instagram pictures. Trust me you guys–joining a rec kickball team or longboarding with your significant other DOES NOT COUNT unless it is well documented on the social media platform of your choice.
Musicians/Hipsters/Occasionally Homeless People: Where there’s grassy knowls, temperate weather, and heavy pedestrian traffic, you can count on unwashed enterprising individuals to set up camp with their mandolins, harmonicas, and an overturned fedora. I don’t mean to lump homeless people in with hipsters to be offensive or an attempt to be clever. I’m just saying, it’d be nice to be able to tell by looking if the money a person earns busking is going towards American Apparel hoodies or PBR or cheap liquor or all of the above. Because while I’m okay with supporting the cause for disgusting alcoholic beverages, overrated overpriced clothing is where I draw the line.
When Chelsea’s not cruising River trails or watching bad reality TV, she sometimes tweets about those two subjects. Follow her on Twitter at @xCawoodstock.