Del Stone

Del Stone
Fort Walton Beach, Florida, U.S.
November 25
I am a journalist and the author of many works of fiction published professionally in the United States and abroad.

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JUNE 25, 2012 8:44PM

The existential angst of walking

Rate: 5 Flag

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.

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Nice. Our neighborhood here is fully packed at 6 am for walking, as are the hiking trails. It's 90 by 7 am anymore. I am safely indoors, not to be knocked over by them as they bike, roll, or swoop by on their earphones. It's not only expensive, but it's dangerous!
Don't get me started on the goddamn dog walkers, those inconsiderate bastards think the city parks exist to serve as giant toilets for their dogs. These idiots will go out and spend four thousand dollars to buy a purebred specimen of some ancient breed of Corsican hunting dog (news flash: "purebred" is a synonym for "inbred") and keep the poor thing chained up in their yards twenty-three hours a day while it spends the remaining hour making a nuisance out of itself at the local park.
Walking is my chief source of exercise (such as it is -- my wobbly bits are probably a lot like yours). We have three conservation areas, a federal park and a provincial park all within 15 minutes of here. Lots of ups and downs, not to mention views of the lake. Not a lot of hi-tech amongst those of us who indulge around here. Mercifully.
Oh gosh!

So THAT'S why my folds aren't happy!

Is it legal to just wear blue-jeans, a polo shirt, and my comfy ol' beat-up shoes? Can I pick up the mail while I'm out or should I take walking more seriously and not dilute it with side chores that would give it another meaning?

I really don't want folks to start thinking that I'm "exercising", y'know?

Hey! I know! I could walk down to the liquor store for my rum and pick up a carton of smokes on the way back!

Oryoki - Our trails weren't busy until lately. Something about the South discourages people from exercising. Maybe it's the 9,000-degree heat and humidity!
Patrick - Amen. You forgot one thing: " ... keep the poor thing chained up in their yards twenty-three hours a day ... " which it spends BARKING NONSTOP!
Boanerges - Lucky you. These guys look like Mr. Spock with all their crap strapped, plugged and mounted on their bodies. Must a thousand dollars worth of it.
skypixeo - That's exactly what I do ... get the mail, maybe drop off the recyclables, pick up some cigs. Ha. Who knew walking could be so bad for you!