Step Right Up
Walking for your life
Beware, O wanderer, the road is walking too……
- Jim Harrison, from “After Ikkyu”
Ever since I married into the family that serves as the chain to my ball, my sister-in-law punishes me each Christmas with an endless array of gag gifts. Though she is a respectable and successful businesswoman, Christmas seems to be her cue to fly her freak flag, turning her into a common prop comedienne. It’s like having the eggnog passed to you by Carrot Top or Gallagher. I like to think it’s because she loves me, and enjoys a little sporty pranking. But in all likelihood, it’s probably because she’s a diabolical sadist, who relishes the look of disappointment on my face when I discover that the scratch-off “Winner” lotto ticket she bought me was a fake. Or when she say, gifted me with donut-shaped soap called “The Weener Kleener,” making me doubt my own male-hygiene regimen.
The Weener Kleener packaging copy reads: “large or small or in-between-er, nothing beats a cleaner weener.” This made me self-conscious, to say the least. Was sis-in-law sending me a not-so-subtle message? I nearly whipped ‘Ol Hank out around the Christmas tree, asking each of my wife’s family members: “Does Hank smell weird to you?” (As a paragon of tasteful restraint, I didn’t, but I could’ve. These were pre #MeToo days. And I seriously doubt my understanding mother-in-law would’ve reported me to HR.)
But one Christmas – let’s call it, 2003 - my sister-in-law inadvertently changed my life forever with her non-gag-gift. Since my wife’s always-generous family had asked for gift ideas, I had requested someone buy me a fitness heart monitor. The Atkins Diet was all the rage back then. And since I wasn’t actually on it, but adhering to its spirit, I still polished off large plates of nature’s most perfect food, bacon, each morning. I figured it’d be smart to work some of the swine fat off, and to measure my cardio output as I did. Hence, the heart monitor. But along with the heart monitor came a gratis little boxy add-on: a pedometer. Which allows you to count your steps taken per day. When I opened the former, I said, “Huh, what’s this?” while regarding the latter. I fastened the pedometer to my belt, took the eleven steps necessary to throw my sister-in-law’s fur-lined “C-ck Sock” (a gag-gift penis warmer) in her face, saying, “No thank you, my junk is already warm enough,” and I never looked back. Except at my pedometer. Which I can’t stop looking at to this day. I was hooked for life.
I count my steps like some people count their money or Facebook likes. And yes, I know that isn’t “natural.” But then, since I first strapped on that pedometer in 2003, what is?