Most mornings I try to go for a walk. It gives me the illusion of exercise, and it gets my folds to jiggling. Jiggling folds are happier folds.
But after carefully studying my fellow walkers I've decided I'm doing something wrong. It's my low-tech approach to walking. I feel like I need a reboot and an upgrade. I don't fit in on the Walking Circuit.
Let's take the issue of my walking attire. I bought my shorts in 1992. Then, they were thick and sturdy. Today, theyve been washed so many times they're held together by molecular tension. I also wear a plain white, V-neck tee that can be found only in the Geriatrics Department at Walmart or your finer dollar stores. I slip on a pair of athletic shoes - the last time these shoes had anything to do with athletics was when I took them out of the shoebox that said "athletic shoes."
As for peripherals, I take one thing: a house key. Oh, and today I took a golf umbrella, which I promptly used as a cane.
My fellow walkers, however, are resplendant in both their attire and their technology.
For instance, they wear the very latest moisture-wicking, heat-redistributing, debit card-draining, skin-tight tops and bottoms in all the colors of every margarita ever invented. The bicyclists are even more intimidating: They wear brightly colored, pointy helmets - picture H.R. Giger's Alien had it been rendered by Walt Disney Studios. The overall effect is that of a bad acid trip, not that I've ever done acid. But I've seen enough Jefferson Airplane and Todd Rundgren album covers to get the picture.
Their technology is even more impressive. These people have not only made a commitment to walk; they've made an investment. They can't walk without first jacking into the Matrix. Let's go down the checklist:
- iPod or some other MP3 device with cable snaking to their right ear: CHECK.
- Bluetooth device embedded in their left ear: CHECK.
- Mobile phone for receipt of those important calls at 6 o'clock in the morning, or texts and/or e-mails that read: "Hay! Wut R U doin? I'm takin a dump! Lol!" CHECK.
- Wrist pedometer that measures their steps, heartbeat, respiration, perspiration, and even lets them program their DVRs: CHECK.
- Phase-plasma rifle in the 40-watt range: CHECK.
When I go for a walk I like to listen to the sounds of birds, or the wind rustling through the trees. Did you know wind makes a different sound through pine trees than live oaks? My fellow walkers would rather listen to Snoop Dog or Rush Limbaugh's latest ravings.
At the very least I want to hear the garbage truck that's about to mow me down, or the basso growling of a pitbull named Muffy that "would never hurt a flea" according to its owner (as it's separating your right leg from your torso).
The dog walkers belong to a special breed. Back in the day before people believed the South Pole was discovered by Captain Kirk, a leash was a sturdy metal chain with a leather strap, about 5 feet long, that kept the dog within a comfortable radius of your ability to prevent it from disemboweling passersby. I'm afraid such leashes are now only available in the S&M department of your local adult toy store. Today's leashes telescope out to 25 or 30 feet, which to my age-befuddled mind renders moot the concept of "restraint."
I've also noticed a kind of age-related schism in the behavior of my fellow walkers. The older walkers - "older" meaning people my age and farther down the scroll bar - will nod and greet me with a cheery, "Good morning!" The younger walkers - "younger" meaning people who wish I'd hurry up and retire so they can have my job - look at me suspiciously and veer wide of my track, as if my jiggling folds might slurp them up in a science fiction horror of digestion.
The bottom line is this: My simple morning excursion has become a source of existential angst. I will never be one with these people until I buy a $3,000 bicycle and rescue a shar pei that speaks Mandarin from a kill shelter.
Whoever said walking isn't exercise has got it all wrong. It's HUGE exercise, both physically and intellectually. The jiggling folds of my waistline - and my brain - are here to tell you that's a fact.