Take a walk to maintain your health and your sanity during the coronavirus lockdown? Sorry, that’s not enough for our favorite humorist, Jerry Zezima, columnist for the Hearst Connecticut Media Group and the Tribune News Service of Chicago. His wife’s a power-walker… and he had to power up to go along.
For years, countless people, many of whom I can’t count on, have told me to take a hike. Now that we’ve been quarantined in a house where social distancing is impossible, unless you stay in the bathroom all day, my wife, Sue, has been telling me to take one, too.
So I recently went on what I thought would be a leisurely stroll with her and almost ended up being a dead man walking.
That’s because Sue is a power walker. I’m more like a Johnnie Walker. In fact, I should have scotched the walk as soon as it became apparent, approximately three yards into it, that I could never keep up without suffering some sort of cardiac event.
“It’s a nice day,” Sue said. “I need to get out or I’ll go stir crazy.”
“If you don’t stir anything,” I replied helpfully, “you won’t go crazy.”
Sue rolled her eyes and said, “Let’s go.”
And go we did, often at a pace that must have exceeded our neighborhood’s speed limit of 30 miles an hour.
“You’re going to get a ticket,” I yelled as Sue zipped down the street.
If this had been the Kentucky Derby, in which I’d be the back end of a horse, Sue would have won going away.
“I can’t keep up with you furlong,” I said to Sue, who either couldn’t hear me or refused to acknowledge the kind of remark that made her want to get out of the house in the first place.
Unlike racehorses, we weren’t running, though I would have had to sprint to keep up with Sue, whose legs are much shorter than mine but evidently work like pistons, whereas mine operate more like the hands of a broken clock.
I knew our jaunt was dangerous when I saw her blow through two stop signs.
“Is that the way you drive?” I shouted.
Sue jammed on the brakes and idled at a third stop sign so I could catch up.
“Thanks,” I said, gasping so violently that I was surprised I didn’t inhale a passing Chihuahua, which was walking with a larger dog and two human companions.
“Hello!” I chirped. “It’s a lovely day, isn’t it?”
They ignored me and kept going.
“They’re not practicing social distancing,” I told Sue.
“They’re probably married,” she responded.
“The dogs?” I said.
Sue sighed and said, “On the next leg, we’re going down this street and around the corner. Can you keep up?”
“If not, I’ll die trying,” I answered, having recovered enough to give up on the idea of pulling out my cellphone and calling 911.
Sue took off like a drag racer, which made me realize that behind every good woman is a man who’s about to have a heart attack.
I stopped in front of a nice Colonial, not just to catch my breath, which must have smelled awful, but to let the operator of an SUV make a left turn into his driveway.
“I didn’t want to collapse in front of your car,” I told the guy, who had rolled down his window.
“Then you would have been a speed bump,” he said with a smile as he pulled in.
I almost ended up being one anyway as I followed Sue, who was crossing the double yellow lines in the middle of the road. Cars that didn’t come near her seemed to be aiming for me.
I imagined my obituary: “Elderly man becomes roadkill.”
Finally, around the bend, what did I see? Our house! Sue, a former Girl Scout, stopped at the corner and helped me cross the street.
“We killed an hour,” she said.
“You almost killed me,” I replied.
Inside, I went to the refrigerator for a beer. It was the safest walk of the day.
Copyright 2020 by Jerry Zezima
Jerry’s latest book is, “Nini and Poppie’s Excellent Adventures: Grandkids, Wine Clubs, and Other Ways to Keep Having Fun.”