The One-Upped Flamingo


I have a sedentary job and to prevent saddlebags, I include physical activity in my daily routine. I strive to get 10,000 steps in each day and often, have to walk around the house at 10PM in order to reach my goal.  When it’s not 10PM, I walk on the sidewalk around my neighborhood. Most days, I reach the farthest point on my walking path and think about calling for a ride, but I never do. I walk a lot and on occasion, I pick up the pace to a shuffle.  My shuffle is not much faster than my walk but it’s a different motion and it makes me feel really good about myself; like I am running.  But no matter how good I feel while pounding the pavement, there’s always someone trying to one-up me and it’s not always the younger ones.

It was a beautiful sunny morning when I put on my cotton drawstring shorts, Disobedient Spirits t-shirt-the one I got while disobeying-and my clearance Nike tennis shoes and headed out for a walk. Not far into my jaunt I felt a pinch as I stepped down on my right foot.  “It pinches when I go like this,” I thought, “Then don’t go like that,” I told myself as I have told my kids many times before.  But I had no choice. I had to ‘go like that’ if I was to reach 10,000 steps that day.

I stopped at the edge of the sidewalk, took off my shoe and then, my sock.  While standing like a flamingo at the very edge of the sidewalk searching through my sock, I heard a harsh throat-clearing sound in the not-too-far distance.  Hmm, I thought as my head twitched in a bird-like fashion, someone must be fighting a spring cold. I paid little attention because I had to find the nit in the nest if I was to get this walk in before work.

Soon after, the second clearing came. It fully disrupted my meditation.  I looked up and saw a couple, more senior than me, approaching on bicycles.  “We need through,” said the lady with a holier-than-thou attitude.  I looked down and noticed my shoed webbed foot, the one on which I was balancing, was at the very edge of the sidewalk.  Where does she want me to go? I thought. I’m in walking crisis here and my ‘don’t go like that’ didn’t ‘go like that’. Any movement other than a hop, which I haven’t done since elementary school, would require stepping off the sidewalk into the quagmire of grass spurs or crossing over the remaining 5 feet of cement into oncoming traffic. I can’t just fly off. She didn’t care. She was coming through-and she did. And so did he.  They both one-upped me.

Just as I was about to assume the crouching tiger, hidden dragon pose-and not the one described by Urban Dictionary-I got to thinking.  Is there a tipping point between courtesy and entitlement and is age the fulcrum?  Does being young or old allow you to hold the other person up high on the teeter totter like we did in elementary school simply because you are entitled? Then I decided I was making too much of it. It was time to move on. I still had 9,950 steps to get in. I don’t want saddlebags to weigh me down when I pass through on my bicycle in another 20 years.

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