I don’t know how I got the idea they were crunches, but when my nightly regimen began in March someone fed me that narishkeit.
Weeks later however, Meredith set me straight. Turns out what I was doing was merely touching my toes and that “crunches”, on the other hand, was just a new label for sit-ups. No more, no less. Too bad. It felt good saying “ crunches”…productive, even… healthy! Gave me a swagger. Whatever it was though, clearly I was exercising. Does not the journey of a thousand miles begin with one step?

Regardless, one thing this cowboy wasn’t going to be doing was crunches…or sit-ups…or deep-knee bends, or whatever they were. I paid my dues at Greenview, in Junior High…laying back on the floor…watching Mr. Moffitt survey us…faking the grunts, even faking the sweat.

I remember those days, when isometrics was chic: the “crunches” of the day, so to speak. The object, as I recall, was to exert pressure, be it a palm a muscle—whatever— against an immobile object. It was the rage in the ‘60s and done each Phys. Ed. class. Let me share something with you: there were only two immobile objects in our gym: Alan Wieder and me.

“Why don’t you just walk?” someone asked me.
“Really?” (I thought). “Hadn’t we seen this movie?

It’s not that I don’t like to walk. Not one of my favorite things, mind you, but when done with another—as a social event— it’s ok. But walking alone? Solo? Well…it’s not that Bogarts don’t do it, mind you. Let’s just say it’s frowned upon.

I can honestly state that I never saw my father walk (except to a card table). And not once did I see Wieder walk (except to the mound). Dare I say more?

These men…these giants in my life…were my muses. In their actions and words they taught me the science, the lore, the tactic and the honor of sport.

Al Bogart urged “Always cut the deck”; Al Wieder scrowled “Always hit the cutoff man”. Al Bogart? The night of a gin game, he’d never walked to his car. Oh no! Bert Hines’d honk the horn and three hundred pounds of my father’d hustle to the driveway. And Wido? I’m serious now. We played softball for trophies, shot baskets in tourneys, played “touch” and played “tackle”. In softball he stood affixed to the mound; in basketball, he was both the play-making guard AND the last man down on defense…common denominator being that he never left the center six feet of the court. Oh—and in football? In an era defined by the scrambling of a Fran Tarkenton and the agility of a Dan Fouts, Wieder out did himself. Indeed, he was the last in a long line of immobile quarterbacks, but honestly…I never saw him sacked. (I think, frankly, he also played QB on defense).

—And I repeat: these men were my muses.

—And just so you know: I have walked. Just not alone. (Ed. Note: I did try it, sort of. ‘Went to a gym once in Great Neck. All alone on a stairmaster—ok Meredith was in the next one—and…let’s just say I was invited to get off the machine because I was singing too loud).

Yes, I have walked.

H and I’d trudge to Rowland (which was close), and Greenview (which was far). Together.

Stu and I would hike to Cedar to go bowling and to Bexley when we had to. Together.

And even when older. Like in college? When there was nothing to do didn’t we walk up to High Street….together?

It’s a social thing—this walking. Jason walks with Adam; Carrie walks with Rusty. Even Harvey, the lonely soul that lived down Bayard in the late ‘50’s…even Harvey had this little poodle he walked with. Not once, however, did I see Jason…or Carrie…or Harvey walk alone.

The moral of the story—where am I going with all this? (you may wonder)….

I’d love to walk—with you.

Not to replace the crunches that I guess I never did. Nor to regain the swagger I never should have had. Just to socialize—no more, no less.
We could walk your streets, if you like. You bring the water; I’ll bring the sheet music, and … it would be nice if one of us brought a dog.

Especially one named Adam.

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