That's why I jumped at the chance to get outside and walk a few miles with a friend.
Well, I didn't exactly jump. More likely, I pushed myself away from the table and rolled. When I was a kid I could dunk a volleyball flat-footed under a goal. Now, however, my vertical leap is a thing of the past. Dunking is out, but Dunkin' Donuts are in. Age is a cruel thing, along with Doritos, candy bars and other snacks. The abs of yore are now replaced with flabs amour. The only six-packs here are Pepsis.
So, I put on the sneakers, found an old shirt and headed to a city park when my friend suggested we walk recently. I knew it was going to be rough when I became winded getting out of the car. We still had nearly 3 miles to walk around a lake and I was ready for a breather. She took off at a spirited pace and I struggled to keep up.
The trail was level for the most part, save for a small incline about three-quarters of the way around. Normal people could make it easily. I was not normal.
There's that male pride guys have to deal with and it surfaced during our walk. I couldn't slow down or appear weak. Fortunately, my friend talked enough to where she didn't hear me wheezing and quietly cursing myself, the world and the concept of walking. I could see my car getting smaller as we walked further from it.
Part of the trail circled through a wooded area and I hoped for a wolf to bound out and put me out of my misery. Unfortunately, this was Arkansas and save for a few pesky squirrels and a really annoying horsefly, the predators stayed at bay.
We circled the lake after about 45 minutes and I could actually see my car ahead. We made it; I didn't embarrass myself by collapsing or crying. My friend even complimented me for making it. I guess I was really out of shape to receive accolades for not dying.
We opted to do it again and last week we drove to a nature center that featured a bit more rugged trail. My friend said the hike would be about three-quarters of a mile. I thought she meant three-quarters of a mile around a path. I learned that she actually meant three-quarters of a mile up.
We left a paved path and she pointed to a bluff looming across a field. “We go up there,” she said.
“Is that even part of the park?” I asked.
We walked across the field and then climbed the bluff. This time, I could not conceal the huffing and puffing. I sounded like the bellows of an accordion during a frenzied polka. When we reached the top, we climbed two flights of stairs on a lookout tower. As we gazed out across the vista, we could search for animals, neighboring towns and other dead hikers.
As soon as I caught my breath and could speak coherent sentences again, we forged on.
We eventually returned to my car, worn, tired and hot. But, again, I made it without expiring.
I drove home, took a shower, rested a bit and then rolled a few games in the 1942 APBA baseball replay. But as I reached for the Doritos during the contests, I thought of our two ventures and decided to forego snacking like a barnyard pig for a change.
We intend to keep walking each weekend. I'll keep the strong wrist from rolling the dice for the replays, but if I keep up the hiking I may someday regain something akin to a vertical leap and be able to get out of my car without pining for a nap.