“Anybody seen in a bus over the age of thirty has been a failure in life.” So concludes a former duchess of Westminster, Loelia Lindsay, who extolled walking. She is quoted in an article about the virtue of being on foot by Mark Kingwell. (“Talking The Walk,” Harper’s June 2013, pg. 86.) His aim is to review recent books about walking, and I was surprised by how many there were — five in all.
One of the most amusing of these is Twenty Minutes in Manhattan by Michael Sorkin. Like the Eskimos who are purported to have numerous adjectives for snow, Sorkin, a New Yorker used to never finding a taxi, has compiled a list of styles for putting one foot in front of the other.
I can do the traipse. I can do the gallivant. I can do the lollygag, and I can do the slow lope. I can hotfoot it. I can walk right in and waltz right out, or I can be poking or dragging or plowing along. As a youngster I skedadled. (Ibid, pg. 86.)
With regret, I note Sorkin omits one of the most graphic lopes, “galumphing,” the form used by Lewis Carroll’s hero in the “Jabberwocky.” Nonetheless, he does provide a pretty good list of ways for one to move about the city while avoiding close encounters with fellow travelers, an dodge he describes as “a modern democratic art form.” (Ibid, pg. 86)
Unfortunately, left out of his compendium is a set of strategies for avoiding dogs that have been allowed to wander, leash free, by their owners. For elders with brittle bones and metal parts, like me, I dare to add to Sorkin’s list. When confronted by a rampaging pet, I suggest: the scream, the stand and pat, the one footed leap to the side, or the turn and walk away. If all else fails, a little galumphing will do.
I still own a car but I know the day will come when I will be forced give it up. What a relief to know that somewhere between my 85 and 100 birthday, a plethora of books will exist to teach me to walk all over again.
(Courtesy of paultotman.blogspot.com)