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Shirtless neighbor stirs her curiosity

February 17, 2011

The Shirtless Guy
By Jen Rouse
The Short Years
Oregon Blog

It was early morning, still dark, and I was out running, my feet hitting the pavement the only sound in the sleepy neighborhood. Then, up ahead, I saw a figure moving toward me.

A man, I could tell from his size. Not tall but stocky and broad-shouldered. Thick gloves on his hands, a hat on his head, and a muffler covering half his face. Dark pants, white shoes. But…something didn’t look right. What was he…? And as I moved closer, I could see that this guy was not wearing a shirt. Pre-dawn, biting cold, out walking the streets with his chest bare and belly hanging out.

Maybe you’ll understand that I quickened my pace and kept my finger on the trigger of my Mace until I was well past him.

That first encounter with shirtless guy was years ago. I’ve seen him many times since then, out walking various routes in the same neighborhood I run through, and he’s never done anything more than lift a friendly hand in greeting as we pass each other. I’m used to him now, but I still get a little creeped out when I suddenly see his half-naked body looming up at me under the glow of a streetlight. And I’ve got to wonder: what is WITH this guy?

I’ve seen shirtless guy in every kind of weather, from pleasant summer mornings to icy winter ones when I wear layers upon layers of clothes before I go out. And he’s always appropriately attired for the weather from the belt down and head up. But his torso is always completely bare. It’s not as though he’s got a fantastic physique to show off, either. This guy is old–I’d guess 60 or up–and though he still looks tough and hearty, he’s got a hairy old man chest and a big round belly.

I’ve seen shirtless guy during the daytime, too, out working in the yard of a house that I assume is his, a nice, well-kept older house in one of Albany’s historic districts. He never has a shirt on then, either. But going shirtless while you’re working in the yard, especially if it’s a hot day, is a slightly tacky but not unusual male prerogative.

But why the bare-chested early-morning walks in the freezing cold? Why doesn’t he just put on a sweatshirt, for crying out loud? Because walking around half-naked in a residential area in the early mornings is just creepy. Maybe I need to start carrying a spare with me, so I can toss it to him next time we pass. “Hey, it’s called a shirt. Ever consider wearing one?”

I suppose it could be worse. He could be going around pants-less.

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Discuss this article

Faith February 17, 2011

At first you had my curiousity.

Then you mentioned his age.

Then you had me squirm.

Weird. Weird. Weird.

Suz February 17, 2011

I dare you to buy him a t-shirt and mail it to him, Put a note on it saying it is from the neighbors.

Ron Glynn February 17, 2011


You need to get a life. People in America are allowed to act weird as long as they are not breaking any laws. There are probably people who think you are weird.

Juniper February 17, 2011

I will have to side with Jen on this one. He may have the right, but I could not myself feel a little unerved every time I saw this guy. Nothing big. Just a fraction of uncomfortableness to make me uncomfortable. That is how I do feel.

anonymous February 17, 2011


Always a surprise.

Anna Budding February 17, 2011

and it has been extra chilly as of late. So why?

naomi February 17, 2011

Thanks for sharing this quirky observation with us. I love it!

Ron Glynn February 18, 2011


He has a right to be weird and you have a right to feel uncomfortable. That is the way life should be here in America.

Juniper February 18, 2011

I agree, he has teh right, he just needs to be mindful.

Glee fan February 18, 2011

This is Oregon…things are different here

anonymous February 18, 2011

Keep Oregon weird.

Jasmine Ai February 18, 2011

In resposne to Anna, not only has it been chilly, it has been snowing this week. If this guy has been going shirtless in the snow, then he is one dedicated beach nut.

Jen @ The Short Years February 21, 2011

@ Ron and anonymous: I absolutely agree with you. He has every right to be weird! I certainly am not suggesting he should be banned from going shirtless if he wants to. But I certainly was un-nerved the first time I saw him. I now view him as a harmless neighborhood nut…who apparently has a very high tolerance for cold temperatures on bare skin. Maybe the chest and back hair keeps him warm.

Juniper February 21, 2011


Tom (Dublin, Ireland) May 2, 2011

Women are ridiculously weird!
You just don’t get it do you? You never will!

How come women constantly denigrate, when a man reveals his masculinity, whether a powerful, muscular torso or a wonderfully hairy physique… women feel they have to ridicule or be on the defensive as if they are about to be attacked by this brutish figure.

If I was the last man on this planet, with no women around, I would still take my shirt off when doing the garden or working around the house or on the car.
It’s not done to impress females, it’s not done to overpower you with male pheromones, it’s not done to assert authority… it’s done because it feels good!

As a man, it’s a bloody wonderful feeling to take off your shirt on a beautiful, crisp, cold, sunny morning and feel the heat of the sun and the cool breeze rustle your chest hair.

Women really are sad individuals… Men take life by the throat and enjoy it… forget about trying to force men to discover their feminine side… instead, women could learn a lot from the male attitude to life!

I sincerely hope that man continues to go running with his shirt off!

Crow May 3, 2011

He likely did it while younger, and just got older and didn’t want to quit. It’s not creepy. Could argue that you keeping a finger on a weapon as you pass is creepy. You say he’s done nothing wrong, so why not just accept that. Your mace it to make sure he leaves you alone, yet you consider making him see the ‘error’ of his ways?? You really need to think about that. How wrong is he likely to be? It’s not like the police don’t know where to look if he DOES do bad. Maybe if you want to worry, be concerned for those who pretend to be normal in their approaches. That’s what skillful and dangerous predators do. They also try to justify their normality in the face of others by wanting to coerce them. That guy likely has more cause to be anxious about YOU, especially given that itchy trigger finger on the mace combined with that attitude.

From my own experience, I can assure you that all that guy wants is to do what he does and not have to feel wrong doing it. The fact that he chooses the quietest time of day suggests that he’s after that quiet. I think most policemen can tell you that the dangerous nutters tend to follow the stragglers of the pack, those out vulnerable at the end of the night’s revels, not those out to run at dawn. People who get up fit and sober tend to be able to look after themselves, unlike the drunk and vulnerable who likely cleared the streets hours earlier. If anyone needs your mace in hand, they do, not that I’d trust them with it either. 🙂

Joseph January 23, 2012

Yeah so?? point?? I run shirtless in the freezing winter all the time. It’s exhilarating. It’s challenging. It’s comfortable. You gonna mace me too?? Really? I can understand the thought that this dude is weird…but so what? After a few times seeing him, i hope you backed off the mace. Seriously. We (Americans) have lost our toughness. We’re overly concerned with who got voted off the island. America: Land of the comfortable, home of the very well entertained. This guy probably was a Navy SEAL, then took an arrow to the leg.

sdfghj December 5, 2012

If you mace a guy because he is shirtless, you should be arrested and charged, detained as a dangerous sociopath. Suppose a guy saw a woman breastfeeding, and kicked her to the kerb for showing her tits? That’s the kind of depravity people wouldn’t even expect from the Taliban most of the time. Take care that your own attitude doesn’t go overboard the same way theirs do! You’re not the only one who wants to move safely through the world. It’s hard enough without having people with itchy fingers on weapons, I don’t care what their self-righteous reasoning is, it’s not on.

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