Thank you for expressing interest in joining our running group. I just have a few questions to make sure you’re the right fit for us.
First, do you carry cash? Because a big part of what we do is pulling wet paper money from our waistbands when we go into coffee shops. The bills should be crumpled and sopping with sweat. The cashier should wonder where exactly the money was when it was inside your pants — don’t explain. Just stare at them and watch their expression change as they realize the bill is both soaked and upsettingly warm.
Speaking of coffee shops, it’s important that you never step inside of one alone. We all go in together, like a kindergarten class. Once inside, begin stretching. Get your leg right up on the cream and sugar station. If there’s no room, head back out and take up the only remaining parking spot. Lean against the car next to you for balance and, if the alarm goes off, act like you don’t hear it. If there aren’t any parking spaces, use the front stoop of an apartment building—first make sure someone is trying to bring a stroller down the stairs. Don’t budge until they ask you three times.
But back to the coffee shop: Do you own a backpack? But not a normal backpack? It should look like you tied a large snake around your chest while it was beginning to digest a litter of kittens. Anyway, we’ll need you to pull a series of plastic bags out of your “backpack” and lay them across several tables. Then change your clothes, right there in the middle of the café. Place your wet shorts and T-shirt and even socks up on the backs of chairs, or wherever you can find space. While you’re waiting for these items to dry, take the newspaper from your neighbor’s table without asking and find the comics page. Every time you laugh at a joke, put the newspaper down and look around the room, grinning. Before you pick the paper back up, shake your head and say the name of the comic strip you were laughing at.
Can you project your voice? Whenever you talk, it should sound like you just walked out of a loud concert. We’ll need you to yell into your phone, especially while in enclosed spaces with other people. Just shout business jargon — it will help justify your expensive running attire and upper management vibe, since you always seem to be out running on weekday afternoons. We’ll also need you to stand in the doorway of the coffee shop and yell things at an unseen companion, who is presumably down the street.
What’s your diet like? We mainly eat nutritional gel packs. Nutritional gel packs are like a combination of astronaut food and my cat’s diarrhea medicine. To properly consume a nutritional gel pack, stand next to a coffee shop pastry case full of real food and stare dead-eyed at the cashier as you squeeze the clear, tasteless substance into your mouth. Place the empty pack in the tip jar. Quick note: while we try and stick with nutritional gel packs, it is acceptable to order a sandwich from a coffee shop and then head into the washroom before paying. Spend at least half an hour in the washroom and then just walk out, the sandwich you ordered no longer of interest. Leave the washroom so that there’s water all over the floor and it smells like an old man died in there, weeks earlier.
We don’t have a uniform, exactly, but are you comfortable wearing tight clothing? Genitals should be clearly defined. You know those little sleeves that come with cheap, compactable umbrellas? Well, imagine your umbrella is broken and you really have to cram it in there, so umbrella spokes are jabbing into the material and it looks all wonky — that’s the aesthetic you should be striving for, no matter what you’re working with down there. Make sure your shirts and shorts are made of a synthetic material specially designed to amplify body odour.
A lot of people initially join running groups because they want to meet new people, or make a commitment to exercise and healthy living. That’s only a small part of what we’re about — what we’re really interested in is crowding around coffee shops. Are you willing to ask a barista to fill up four tiny, futuristic water bottles that are strapped to your body, and look like liquid soap dispensers that have been stepped on? Will you then gasp loudly after each sip, in an overtly sexual manner? Do you always somehow have unbearable coffee breath, even though you never get around to actually ordering coffee? If so, we just might be the running group for you.