If you ever happen to be strolling down a walking path in Maine and come across a limping, weeping, zombie Darth Vader, don’t be alarmed — it’s just me.
It all started a few years ago when my podiatrist pointed to the tiny stress fracture on my X-ray and said, “See this? When your foot comes down on the pavement, it cracks, just like a pretzel.”
“Okay. I guess that’s not good?” I asked.
“But I was only walking.”
“So what you’re saying is…I can’t walk anymore?”
“Oh, no. You can walk. But…well, pretend my fingers are your toes,” she pressed her hand onto the table and made a loud cracking noise.
“Tell you what,” she peered over her glasses at me. “Just keep walking using this orthotic insert and we’ll see what happens.”
“What will happen?”
“Oh, nothing, if it doesn’t work, we’ll just cut open your ankle here…” she tapped her finger on my ankle and made a zipping noise, “…yank your tendon up…” she blew a raspberry, “insert it through the opening in your bones here…” she made a series of popping noises, “and wrap it around there so it’s tighter and more stable,” she clicked her tongue. “No biggie!”
So my loose tendon and I went for a long walk to mull over the doc’s advice.
I walk five days a week for about 30 minutes. Funny thing about walking, I’ve been doing it all my life. Unfortunately, I’ve been cursed with one leg that’s a good few inches shorter than the other. When people ask me how tall I am, I tell them it depends on which leg I’m leaning on: 5′ 5″ on my right, 5′ 3″ on my left.
But I’m not too keen on the ankle-cutting thing, even with the cool sound effects. So I decided to take my chances, maybe stand mostly on my right foot. At least then I’d be taller and in less pain. Win-win.
So my orthopedic insert and I went for another long walk today. The local bike path is a busy place, lots of runners, joggers, bikers, sloggers.
I was the slogger.
Aside from the limping, I also tend to breathe heavily when I exercise. As I slogged beside a huge field of dandelions, the only sounds I heard were the sweet chirps of chickadees mixed with my ear-rattling breathing. Very unnerving. I imagined I was on a mission to destroy the Death Star and Darth Vader was chasing after me in hot pursuit. Helped quickened my step, anyway.
And damn it all, it was also a breezy, sunny day. A blazing sun to someone with pale blue eyes is akin to having lasers beamed directly into the retinas. So as I walked, I cried, tears spilling down my cheeks. I was in a great mood, honest. In spite of my exercising.
I came upon my first fellow walker. She was a tiny dot in the distance, winding her way up the path toward me. As we approached each other, I tried in vain to wipe my Tammy Faye Bakker tears away and quiet my breathing. And the zombie dragging of my bad pretzel-foot only got worse.
So here’s the thing about walking: I hate when I pass someone on a path. The pressure of acceptable social interaction is too much. I panic and questions flood my oxygen-deprived mind: How do I not appear crazy? Why, oh why didn’t I use waterproof mascara that day? What should I say or do?
- “Nice day, huh?”
- “So you too, huh? Exercise! Pfft! Ever have the sudden urge to go lie down in that field over there and pass out from the pain? No? Just me?”
- simply nod and grin through tears
- do nothing, no eye contact, pretend to stare intently at a distant tree
I should have gone with the last option.
As the silent power-walker woman and I approached each other, the only sounds were my Darth Vader breathing and the gentle slapping of my loose tendon. And those damned chirpy, happy birds, mocking me in my time of need.
We made brief eye contact and she nodded, so I made the first move.
“Good!” I blurted while limping and wiping away tears, “Morning! Good morning!” I repeated with a ghastly gasp as we passed each other. “Nice….” my voice trailed off as I took a nasty step to the side, my ankle twisting. Searing pain shot up from my cursed pretzel-bones. “Ah! Gah!” I seethed, wincing at the Power Walker, my face twisted into a grotesque mascara-coated mask of agony.
My foot decided that was a good time to break free from my tendon and roll violently to the side, so I let out a strained cry of “Oof! Ahhhhh! Shit! Good god!” and stumbled off the path. “I’m okay, I’m fine, just fine,” I continued to babble to myself to further add to my looking like a complete lunatic.
By then it was too late, our precious moment of Walker Solidarity over, culminating in the woman giving me nothing more than a few startled glares in return as she hurried on her way.
I suppose I was lucky she didn’t have mace.
Maybe it’s time to get that tendon tied up in a pretty little bow after all.
But only if the surgeon does those cool sound effects.
Do you exercise? Is your body slowly falling apart like mine? If you saw me lying down on a walking path, would you help me up or run away in horror?
This is the first post in a new series I’m writing about the mundane stuff in my wackadoodle life and how I inevitably screw it up by just being myself.
So Here’s the Thing About…