Growing up along the shores of Lake Michigan, I spent every summer running shirtless. It made sense. It was fine. The entire cross-country team frolicked shirtless. There was no one to bother. There were no children to frighten.
For 15 summers I did this, right on into adulthood, not even tying a shirt around my waist in case I found myself stranded and needed to enter a place of business. I left the house half naked and hit the pavement, until the day my girlfriend finally admonished me: Put on a goddamn shirt, she said. You look ridiculous. And she was right. The good people of Brooklyn did not ask to gaze upon my pinkish flesh.
I’ve come to believe that, in most cases, running shirtless does look ridiculous. It’s an exercise in vanity, a sin against the unwitting bystanders who emphatically don’t need to see that. And yet I still maintain that there are times in these dog days of summer when shirtless running is acceptable. Having thought an awful lot (perhaps too much?) about this topic, I hereby offer a handy guideline to consult before leaving the house for your next run:
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