McKeithan Column|‘Walk’ becomes a defining moment

Published 9:48 pm Friday, May 22, 2009

By By Ray McKeithan
I have never understood why people on vacation at the beach suddenly develop an urge to “get healthy.”
I remember many years ago when my beautiful wife was then just my beautiful girlfriend. We stayed at one of the McMansions at the beach with about 200 other people (it seemed) to help defray costs. I enjoyed lounging around, making inappropriate comments and eating ALL of my housemates’ Sweet-Sixteen donuts.
“Let’s go for a walk,” my beautiful girlfriend said.
“Sounds, great! Let’s change and meet downstairs.”
When I joined the future-missus outside, I couldn’t help but notice her tight spandex shorts, hand-held weights, $100 running shoes and a sports-top-thingy that said “I’m with stupid.”
I was wearing blue jeans, flip-flops, no shirt and a cowboy hat. My accessories for the walk included a cup of coffee, a replacement pouch of “chew” and a newspaper.
As the “walk” began, I had to interject: “Why are we on the street?”
“Why wouldn’t we be?” she asked. (In other words, shut-up … NOW!)
“I don’t know, I guess I was just thinking that since we’re AT THE BEACH we might want to walk ON THE BEACH!”
It was then I discovered that logic has no place in a relationship. I also learned that there are many different definitions to “walking.” We were about to have our first fight.
My beautiful girlfriend took off like a racecar with only dust and gravel left to remember her by. (Her television character equivalent: the Road Runner.)
Me? I inched forward at a pace only detectable by time-lapse photography. (Television character equivalent: Otis of Mayberry shuffling to the cell after a bender.)
What I thought was going to be a leisurely stroll became a defining moment of our relationship. I remind her when she frequently shouts, “Why did I marry this fool?” that she just failed to pick up on the signs during the courtin’ phase. (They were there.)
Of course, there are many deluded vacationers who expect to return home in perfect shape with a healthy glow. (Despite having left home just days before obese and pasty as plaster.)
You can’t miss them. They are usually bright-red beacons with scorched skin, the result of 10 hours in the sun attempting a George Hamilton-like tan on day one of their vacation.
Hello, people! Listen to me: A vacation is for rest, relaxation and indulgence. If, suddenly, upon your first deep breath of briny air you become a Denise Austin, Jack LaLanne or Lance Armstrong wannabe — you should be arrested and placed under observation — because you ain’t right.
These kooks can be seen “running” along THE ROAD (geez) in various states of physical duress. I call them the “gaspers and claspers.” Most of them are either gasping for air or clasping some just-injured part of their body — usually their heart.
These fashionistas are adorned in the latest trendy workout gear that doesn’t properly fit un-trendy bodies. They have brand-new running shoes, an iPod strapped to their arm with head phones held in place by a thick, colored headband. Their shorts are usually too short and their socks are usually too high. Their five-mile run quickly becomes a five-minute cry-athlon.
I usually can’t resist the temptation to ridicule these would-be athletes. I get in the car and shout taunts out the window:
“Hey, Forrest Gump — where’s Bubba?”
“Hey, Goofy — this ain’t Disney World!”
“Hey!” (It was a pretty woman.)
Or, this gem:
“Hey, Richard Simmons … my doctor says that…” (I stopped when I realized it WAS my doctor.)
Don’t get the wrong idea. I do this all in fun, and I’m sure the runners enjoy it too. You’d be surprised how many of them offer a kind hand gesture after I zoom past. Apparently they all think that I’M NUMBER ONE!
(It’s usually after I have just beaned them with a Sweet-Sixteen donut.)
The obligatory McKeithan column disclaimer: The WDN officially endorses good health practices regardless of time or location. Apologies are offered to: Richard Simmons, Forrest Gump, Bubba, Goofy, Road Runner, pretty runner, Otis and McKeithan’s doctor.