My first serious boyfriend in college was long-legged and lanky, and when he was trying to get someplace fast, I practically had to scamper to keep up with him. Scampering is a decidedly humiliating way to travel, so as a defense, I changed my walking stride. You think you know how to walk until you have to walk with a long-legged person, and then you learn.
The secret is to get your hips into the game. Most casual walkers walk from the knees down, but if you engage your iliac region, you can easily get a few extra inches out of a stride. When I started to ride, I would later learn to recognize this in horses; horsemen use the term “good mover” to describe an animal that covers ground easily without appearing to work too hard at it. A “daisy cutter” is a classic hunter, one whose gaits are easy and long, without much knee action; put him in a field of daisies and his hooves will lop the blossoms off as they brush over the tops. Knee action is wasted motion, and should be saved for fancy carriage horses, where that sort of high stepping is prized.
I would never call myself a daisy cutter — my legs are too short. But I like to get where I’m going without too much shilly-shallying, and why are you walking so slow in the middle of the goddamn sidewalk? Don’t you know anything?
The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating story today about researchers studying the roots of anger. You’ll never guess what their laboratory is:
Researchers say the concept of “sidewalk rage” is real. One scientist has even developed a Pedestrian Aggressiveness Syndrome Scale to map out how people express their fury. At its most extreme, sidewalk rage can signal a psychiatric condition known as “intermittent explosive disorder,” researchers say. On Facebook, there’s a group called “I Secretly Want to Punch Slow Walking People in the Back of the Head” that boasts nearly 15,000 members.
I don’t want to punch slow walkers, but I will never understand people who don’t follow simple rules of the pedestrian road. I thought everyone knew them; they’re essentially the same as the one for cars: Slow traffic to the right. Don’t stand in the middle of the sidewalk. And — very big on college campuses — there is a time and place to hold hands with another adult, but it’s not on a university walkway between classes. You idiot.
I think I should volunteer for this study.
I live in a car-mad city now, but I still like to walk when I can, and most of the time I have sidewalks entirely to myself. I don’t think it’s making me any more patient, and I wonder how I’d do in someplace like New York, which I haven’t visited since the beginning of the smart-phone era. I don’t know how I’d handle the amblers, the slow-walkers, the distracted millions who will not look up from their little screens, not even when someone is coming up behind them, fast. The police at Wayne State have a boilerplate memo they offer to anyone interested in staying safe on an urban campus in a dangerous city, and high on the list? Ignore your phone. Your call will wait. It is the gimpy leg that the urban predator looks for, because it means you’re not paying attention to anything other than some stupid text message.
As I read on in the story, I realized I’m not a classic sidewalk rager. I don’t bump into people if it can be avoided, and for the most part I will go around slower ones without glares or (much) muttering. Having been a stroller- and wheelchair-pusher myself, I understand the special problems posed by small children and elderly parents. Needless to say, I don’t hip-check anyone. But I fully admit to being driven nuts by people who will fan out in a group, usually women, frequently four abreast so they can be just like the “Sex and the City” girls, and not be aware that they have chosen to become a blood clot in the artery of a busy city. I try to go around, but sometimes they’ll stop — so the camera can zoom in on them while they make some witty remark — and I have no recourse but to go through the middle. They act surprised, like I’m invading their space. Who let this interloper into my movie set? Hey, girlie. Learn to walk.
OK, some bloggage:
Speaking of idiots, the Republicans aren’t serious about zeroing out the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, are they? This has to be a bargaining-chip sort of deal. They aren’t really that stupid? No one’s that stupid. Oh, wait. So off I go to my elected representatives’ websites, there to register my objection. They’re all Democrats, so I believe it’s probably unnecessary, but you never know.
A milestone we all missed: Yesterday was Coozledad’s 50th birthday. Happy birthday, you delightful one.
This is red-carpet season, and Tom & Lorenzo are on the case, as usual. No red carpet is as tacky as the ones trod by the music industry, and their Grammy wrapup is hilarious. Just go to the main page, find part one and go from there. Never have I seen such awful formalwear, and I went to high school in the ’70s. Ignore the fact you won’t know three-quarters of the “stars,” and concentrate on the prose:
HELLO, GRAMMA FUNK! We don’t know who you are, but we feel like we know every inch of your body like an old lover. The curtain is rising on your vagina and your tits are screaming like two colicky babies.
Me, I’m off to work. Have a swell Tuesday, all.