7/20/20 “That Got me to Thinking…?” Chapter 6 “Walkabouts”
By Bruce Williams
Walking is generally my source of exercise these days, and I try to get out with the dog and do at least four miles everyday. Somedays I’ll get ambitious and go as far as nine miles (sans dog) while I’m listening to classic rock and eyeballing the neighborhood and surrounding nature…Mount Rainier, the Olympics, Lake Tapps and the White River are all viewable during these existential rambles. We were members at the Y (pre-Covid), and I used to like to run on the treadmill followed up by a nice long schvitz in the dry sauna, but nowadays street running is a little too brutal for these old joints, so I just simply stroll.
Out walking our beagle (Ruby) recently, I was approached by a couple of religious canvassers (as indicated by their black, usher-style name tags) while being held captive by the crosswalk light. Girls, as it were. They asked if they could pet the Doobs, and I demurred assent with a silent, headphoned nod. Then they indicated that they had a question for me, so I warily lifted one earphone; “What’s your dog’s name?” I took one more quick glance at those name tags and fliers and responded unashamedly, “Rotten” (her alternative name when she knocks over the garbage can or poops on the hardwoods), which gave them enough momentary pause for the light to change and for me to be on my merry, unmolested way.
One thing I’ve noticed about other walkers is that there are definitely particular “types” out there—I’ve chosen to group a few of them together for you…see if you recognize anyone you know:
Purposeful: Lots of arm swing and clearly with an important destination. Type A early risers. A fountain of opinions—most of them dispensed without solicitation and received without interest. Very tan and large calf-ed, and partial to fluorescent clothing.
Meanderer: (also: Dawdler). I happen to fit into this category (much to my wife’s brisk-walking consternation). Ideal for observations and allotting enough time for the hound to sniff, given adequate tether. Often in the way, ruefully.
Chafer: A gingerly prancer, it’s abundantly evident that there’s some rubbing discomfort somewhere (but please—keep it to yourself). Every limb seems to be at war with the others, all in the confines of a singular, wincing body.
The Lunger: They’ll throw in a random burpee, walk backward uphill (go around, you), or maybe some Tai Chi to remind you that you’re only just walking, while THEY are doing THIS. To be avoided at parties.
The Gossip: “I can’t believe she actually said that! The nerve! She must just be jealous of us (partner adamantly agrees).” Involves flavored lattes, yoga pants and scrunchies, and the willingness to walk two, three or four abreast, regardless of approaching foot traffic.
Batgirl: We’re talking a full-on utility belt here, featuring spots for cell phone, sunscreen, giant water bottle, bear mace, pervert repellent and a fanny pack so big it looks like a garter snake swallowed a mongoose.
The Artsafairians: Socks with sandals, a hat that’s a real conversation starter, horn-rimmed glasses, his-and-her cargo shorts, elaborate unkempt facial hair, and embroidered vests. Eternally seeking a bathroom.
Speed Walker: The lost art of heel-toe, heel-toe. If you encounter this unicorn, just stop what you’re doing right then and there and drink it all in. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen anything but a wire-thin speed walker, so they might be on to something. Naaaahhhh…
There are many more, but I’ll leave them for another day. That’s the beauty of walking—you can do it anywhere and there’s always something new to see (and churn judgments about). Look for me—I’m the bald guy with the Bose headphones thumb-typing on my phone while sporting a half-smirk. Hope to see you out there!