Can you smell that? No, that scent on the breeze is not that of Christina Aguilera’s latest attempt at short-changing her persona into a brand- a perfume called simply “Inspire”. Nay, it’s the sweet aroma of fresh bear bait! The topic I’ve chosen to get your virtual tongues wagging is that of a slightly zoological nature: If creepy dudes were a type of animal, what would be their natural habitat? What place do they feel most safe to congregate in large numbers and creepily infect your day? Where do you most often spot them in the wild? What forms of sustenance grow in the creepy dude-imal’s habitat that allows him to thrive? My pick, after the jump!

If creepy dudes were animals, I think their natural habitat would be jogging trails. In no other place that I regularly visit am I as lavished with so much inappropriate attention as I am when I’m just trying to effing jog. Uh, well, I’m really only bothered by dudes when I don’t wear my creep deflector shield- my face-obscuring, dingy, camouflage cap that proudly exclaims, “Women love me, fish fear me.” For me, that hat is purely ironic (I bought it because it makes Mr. Panda laugh, and it’s got that soft, already-broken-in feel. J’adore!), but I doubt the manimals see it that way. Maybe if I wore the hat with a cutesy pink track suit, they’d be in on the joke, but instead I choose to pair my funny hat with jogging shorts that are safety cone orange. So when I jog by, all guys see is a Tennessee Lady Vols Basketball-loving (true), unfashionable dyke that probably smells of catfish bait.

Just yesterday I forgot to wear my jog-armor for the first time in months, and the solicitations came rolling in like the Sunday post-church crowd at a Shoney’s breakfast buffet. They ranged from simple: “hi!” “hey”; to cliché: “how you doin’?”; to downright bizarre: In one of the more secluded areas of the trail, some guy was standing at the edge of the river taking a photograph of the setting sun- not altogether unusual, in fact, there’s usually someone out there taking pictures every afternoon- but he was facing the river for way longer than it took to snap a pic. When I was level with him, he rounded on his heel and said to me (having had no more than 2 seconds to observe my dog, unless he had been watching us approach peripherally), “that’s a gorgeous dog you have there.” EEEEEEEEEEEWWWW! First of all, why “gorgeous”? Anyone who’s seen my dog knows that she is far from gorgeous: she is like a squatty, stocky Lab-Chow mix with her black coat dulled to a grayish hue from her dandruff- puppy eczema. She’s cute, for sure, but I tend to think of “gorgeous” as reserved for show dogs or at least purer breeds than my mutt. Then, as if his opening line weren’t creepy enough, he immediately starts walking behind me. AAAAAAH! So, I pick up the pace and once I’m far enough away from him I notice that he’s still brandishing his camera in my direction, and has probably been taking pics of me and my dog the whole time!!! As if all THAT wasn’t creepy enough, let me describe the guy to you: White male, mid-40s, balding, bespectacled, perhaps a little overweight but mostly just out of shape, white 70s-looking striped polo tucked into a completely clashing pair of longish track shorts that are hiked up practically to his armpits. This is the guy you picture in your head when someone says “serial killer”. I am never forgetting my hat ever again.

Later, on the very same jog, some guy with a very gay, prancing miniature Collie says to me, “hello again.” Um, again? You remembered me from the other side of the trail? From nearly an hour ago? Because without that little flamer of a dog that probably belongs to your girlfriend, I’d not remember you! And besides, why? For those of you ready to throw down the old, “GOD! He’s just being FRIENDLY!” excuse, think of this: does Mr. Friendly greet everyone as they pass? The hunched, shuffling, determined old Korean octogenarian man? The packs of Pakistani women in their brightly colored saris? The speed-walking old ladies? The annoyingly perfect J Crew catalog couple and their model baby? The gabby sorority girls walking 4-abreast in their matching letters? Or, does he only greet women, smallish ones, jogging alone. Yeah. “Friendly”, my ass.

I think the North American Jog-Trail-Dwelling Creepster probably thrives on having that captive audience- it’s a narrow trail, people on all sides of you, so when a lady passes going the opposite direction she has no choice but to receive your message of love. They also probably live for the glistening, sweaty bodies in their shorty jog-wear (huuuuuurl). Listen, lonely guys on the trail, I feel for you. Maybe you don’t want to meet girls in bars, I completely understand. BUT, accosting women while they exercise is a NO. Here’s a tip for you: we women are not that hard to figure out. The best way to know how to behave towards us in a given setting is to observe how we behave and then act accordingly. Meaning, in a public setting, we will treat others the way we would like to be treated, most of the time. Ever wonder why girls will talk to strangers in line at Starbucks, near the magazine rack at the bookstore, in bars, but they never bellow greetings at randoms on the jogging trail? That’s because women don’t want to be bothered when they’re trying to work out. Working out is very private “me” time, so when you intrude on that, it’s like if you were to peer over a bathroom stall and try to strike up a convo. Not. Cool. Women want to be noticed when they’re prepared, when they’re feeling confident, not when they’re un-made-up, sweating, wearing the outfit they clean the house in, and likely feeling self-conscious. Um, DUH! Which is why I don’t feel particularly bad for harshing on the jog predators, as that shit is pure amateur. FAIL, dude, FAIL.

Where do you most often encounter creepy dudes in your daily life? Tell us in the comments!!