Is it just me or is life chock full of questions without answers? I’m not talking about stuff that you can Google, like “Is global warming real?”, I’m talking about the head-scratching stuff that is human behavior. Someone really ought to study that. In the interest of science, let’s explore some of the things that have recently caused me to go “huh?”.
As I took my nightly walk in the park last evening (okay, okay, it is more like thrice weekly; “nightly” sounds far more industrious, though, doesn’t it?), I noticed a guy riding a bike. The fact that he was shirtless, sweaty, and muscled in that rippled sort of way that I imagine, having no actual experience with muscles myself, comes from spending countless hours at the gym or on a chain gang, had, believe it or not, little to do with why he got my attention.
What he was doing on the bike, even more than the vessel he was using to do it, caused him to stand out from all of the other cyclists. He was riding only on the back wheel, his helmetless body nearly parallel to the ground. And he was moving at a pretty good clip. It was impressive, to say the least.
It occurred to me, upon further reflection, that the bike may have been specifically designed for just this sort of crazy activity. Still, special bike or not, I couldn’t do it. The whole enterprise did look sort of fun, though, at least for those of you whose idea of fun includes an element of danger and/or shirtlessness. Generally, my fun involves ice cream. Or fried food. Possibly pasta. All while wearing a shirt. And, sometimes, even pants.
I participate in this nightly walking. (Okay, okay, thrice weekly!) with a good friend, which makes it far more palatable. Sadly, it is still not as palatable as, say, ice cream or French fries. Nevertheless, we suck it up and move along. We put one foot in front of the other and, before you know it, an hour has passed and we’ve walked three-point-one miles.
Perhaps, given that rate of speed, we are playing fast-and-loose with the word “walking”. What we are doing might, in fact, be better described as “meandering”. Whatever. We’re doing it. We could be eating potato chips on the couch. That’s how I look at it.
We engage in a good bit of talking while we walk. That might slow us down a bit, but who cares? We explore all sorts of topics. They range from the mundane— our children and what the hell they are getting up to these days (ho-hum); to the fantastical— why the sex trade (!) probably wouldn’t be lucrative for either of us, given our limited skill sets and our mutual aversion to both latex and unfamiliar genitalia.
Mainly, though, we talk about our fellow exercise enthusiasts. Given my bartending background, I shouldn’t have been surprised by the number of “regulars” there are at the park most evenings, but I was. Just as I do at my job, I have given some of them descriptive names. In the interest of fairness and a nod to my own self-awareness, I am going to assume that they refer to me as “crazy leggings meanderer”.
At work we have people called “Frito-guy”. Because he smells like Fritos. I don’t really want to know why he smells like Fritos. I suspect that it has to do with something that is going on inside his orthopedic shoes. Really, though, I don’t want to know. I don’t necessarily want to know what makes “Expired Coupon Lady” tick, either. I just want both of them (and countless others) to just eat and get out already.
Conversely, I find that I want to know more about the park regulars. Like, for example, “Old School Roller Skate Guy”. He piques my interest. And not just because he hasn’t yet discovered Rollerblades. What I really want to know is why he wears a maroon leisure suit whilst roller skating. Further, there appears to be a direct relationship between his choice of attire and the level of enjoyment he derives from his nightly roll.
The other night he wasn’t wearing his suit. It took me a few turns around the park to realize that it was him. There just wasn’t nearly as much pep in his step as I have come to expect from him. He wasn’t doing any tricks or turns, either. I sincerely hope that the absence of the suit can easily be explained. I have convinced myself that, perhaps, he spilled some chocolate milkshake on it and had to take it to the cleaners. That takes a few days, right?
While I anxiously anticipate the return of “the suit”, there are other people and other things to take note of. Not all of them are as intriguing as “Muscle Bike Guy” or “Old School Roller Skate Guy”, but one must make do with what one has.
I am fascinated, for example, by the sheer number of people who walk around the park in flip-flops. What “Muscle Bike Guy” is doing seems somewhat safer by comparison. Even given that he doesn’t wear a helmet. It would only take a pebble to send a flip-flop wearer careening into the nearby stream.
Once in a while there is a kayaker in the stream. Hopefully one of them will be there to assist the flip-flopper when (really, it’s just a matter of time) she or he (yes, there are quite a few men who consider flip-flops proper footwear for park walking; no, not all of them are hipsters) takes a mad tumble into the water.
The fact that there are kayakers at all is also odd, given that there are any number of areas where the stream runs dry. Some day, rather than walking, I may just sit myself down near one of these dry streambeds and await the kayaker who gets stuck in the mud. There would, no doubt, be some entertainment value in witnessing such a thing. We all need a good laugh now and again.
The people who make me laugh out loud, though, are the foragers and the fisherpeople. Yes, I said “foragers”. They collect and eat berries from the various trees and bushes that line the walking path. I am constantly shocked that I don’t have to step over a dead one on my lap around the pond. Honestly, why don’t they just bring a bag of Fritos with them?
The people who bring their fishing gear, the “fisherpeople”, crack me up, too. Although they are less funny when they are swinging their poles in “Andy Griffith-like fashion” on the path and I am directly behind them. I didn’t come to the park to lose an eye, for heaven’s sakes! But, yeah, they seem to have a great deal of equipment with them, apart from those dangerous poles, for some simple pond fishing. The funniest part of the whole fishing thing is that I have NEVER seen any of them catch a fish. Thus far, there is no hard evidence that there are even any fish IN the pond.
Could it be that they are all there practicing for some upcoming fishing tournament that I know nothing about? Could it be that this is the last we’ll see of the maroon leisure suit? What motivates a person to wear flip-flops anywhere but the nail salon, the beach, or, possibly, the laundry room? Will “Muscle Bike Guy” continue to tempt fate with his shirtlessness and helmetlessness? Will I ever wear plain black leggings again? Will I ever be instrumental in saving a kayaker?
See? Lots more questions than answers, people. Lots more.