Wednesday, June 19, 2019     Volume: 20, Issue: 15

Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on May 12th, 2011, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 12, Issue 9 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 12, Issue 9

The Walkabout

Who knew spending time together could be so pleasant?


My wife mentioned that we needed some exercise. Due to an ever-increasing waistline (mine, not hers—I will never discuss her waistline unless I’m trying to commit suicide by lecture), my wife decided that we should spend our evenings walking. I had once heard of this thing, walking. I remember it as a phase in my life somewhere between crawling around with a dirty diaper and when I learned how to ride a bicycle. Eventually, the greatest day in my life finally arrived (sorry, it wasn’t my wedding day or the birth of either of my children). It was the day I got my driver’s license. Once I felt the power of an American-made 5.0 internal combustion engine under my right foot, walking was nothing to me except history, if not mythology.

I guess you could say I’m a bit of an elitist when it comes to driving versus walking. I mean, isn’t walking what poor people do? Like, people who can’t even afford a skateboard? Regardless of my snobby motorist ways, my wife said we needed to walk. Because I recently found myself winded and out of breath after going all the way to the mailbox to see if my latest issue of Car and Driver arrived, I realized that maybe walking like a poor person could do me some good.

On our first evening, I found out that walking had actually little to do with moving my legs and a lot more to do with my wife moving her lips. The recipe for an evening stroll with my wife, whom I love, was one part walking and three parts talking. The crazy part was, as we walked along, I realized walking was boring, and thus I really had nothing better to do than to listen to what she had to say. Most of the time, at the house, when my wife talks, I’m usually half listening, half checking my e-mail. It is possible that I haven’t heard a word she has said in more than a decade. Thinking back, I recall she told me she was pregnant a couple of times, and she gave me the address of the church when we got married. Since then, everything else she has said is sort of fuzzy. I recall her going on and on about the toilet seat for some years, but eventually we came to an agreement on that. We agreed that I can’t aim, and she wants to kill me. We’ve made peace with our lack of abilities and/or death wishes.

During the walks each night, I started to get to know my wife pretty well. It turns out she’s a pretty interesting girl (who would have thought?). She is a middle school math teacher. I’ve learned all sorts of things on our walks. Besides learning the difference between an integer and a whole number, I now know who is dating whom at the school, who is getting an F at the school, who leaves early at the school, who isn’t a very good teacher at the school, which vice principals are worthless at the school, who skipped afternoon detention at the school, and how gross the salads are at … you guessed it, the school. We talk a lot about the school. Well, I should say she talks a lot about the school and I just listen a lot about the school.

The interesting part about this whole thing is that simply by walking along with my wife and nodding my head (and it sort of just nods automatically as I walk), my wife is really loving the new “more sensitive” me. She keeps going on and on about what a great listener I am. I’m getting all sorts of hubby points (redeemable for goodies on a later evening) for just walking along and doing nothing except hearing about her day at the school. I should have been doing this a long time ago.

During the walk, I generally keep my focus on not stepping on a crack so I don’t break my momma’s back and also watching out so I don’t step on a line and break my daddy’s spine. Besides that, I continue to listen to what my wife has to say about the substitute teacher who got lost and couldn’t find the women’s bathroom—breaking news! But sometimes I see something shiny and lose my focus. Right in the middle of her talking about the school lettuce, I will blurt out, “Did you see that 1967 VW? That was the first year they used a 12-volt electrical system in a Volkswagen.” My wife is patient and good to me, too.  She listens to my random useless car facts as much as I listen to her school stories.

We’ve been doing these walks for a few weeks now and are up to about three miles a night. That is three miles of school administration stories and me occasionally, inadvertently diverting my attention to something shiny and fast. We have found a nice little loop to walk with an ice-cream store in the middle. Sure, we’re going the wrong way in terms of exercise, as we burn 300 calories walking and consume 400 calories of ice-cream. But the walk has turned out to be less about exercise and more about just spending time together. As our marriage ages, I’m realizing that time itself is the ultimate commodity. The walks help us find time for time. The only thing I’m worried about is what we are going to talk about this summer.


Rob recently took a long walk along a short pier. Send comments to the arts editor at

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