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Texas | Columns | "Quips and Salsa"

Walk away from COVID-19

by Jase Graves
Jase Graves

After watching the daily COVID-19 coverage on CNN, I've found that the best way to overcome lingering thoughts of depression, hopelessness, and Chris Cuomo is by going on a brisk walk around our neighborhood with my wife. Not only do we get some exercise, but it also gives us a chance to vent about the worries and frustrations of living with three teenage daughters during a pandemic, which makes us feel depressed and hopeless again, but at least we're exhausted and sweaty.

Really, though, I'm not sure how much actual exercise we get on these power strolls-other than when we're assaulted by one of those invisible ninja spider webs and have a synchronized full-body cardio freak-out in the middle of the street. We then pray that nobody saw us and that the spider hasn't set up housekeeping in our underwear.

Because we usually walk late in the evening, I often carry an old broom handle, both for protection and so that I can pretend like I'm Gandalf from "The Lord of the Rings." You never know when you might have to face an orc, goblin, or the neighbor's flesh-eating Chihuahua mix.

On a few of our walks, we've seen actual wildlife, and I don't mean children on those electric scooters. No, I mean real woodland creatures not normally found frolicking around yard art and garage sales. Recently while walking at night, we stumbled upon a large copperhead snake rippling across the warm pavement. After we shared a special moment together admiring its natural beauty-we both rushed back home for a fresh pair of Nike shorts. As we were passing by our house on another evening walk, my wife spotted what appeared to be an obese housecat in need of a substance-abuse intervention waddling underneath my eldest daughter's car. When I squatted down to identify the creature, I came eye-to-eye with a corpulent opossum huddling directly under the drain plug-and I couldn't even talk him into doing a quick oil change.

Speaking of untamed animals, we always invite our daughters to join us on our walks. Usually, they respond by looking up at us from their cell phones as if we just asked them to crawl over hot shards of broken glass using only their lips and eyeballs. Occasionally, though, our middle daughter accompanies us and uses it as an opportunity to demonstrate that no matter how little exercise she gets on a daily basis, she can still make both of her parents look and feel like disabled Galapagos tortoises as she sprints up hills and runs in circles around us. Even so, it gives us an opportunity to have some quality time visiting with her-until she announces that she is going to jog the rest of the way home because I've started asking questions about her current boyfriend-like whether or not she approves of his deodorant.

Over the past few months, I've really come to depend on these daily walks with my wife, and I think she enjoys them, as well. Eventually, I'll probably wind up like one of those elderly dudes taking laps around the local shopping mall concourse in my nylon training suit, listing ever so slightly toward the Victoria's Secret store when I pass by. Until then, I'll continue to hit the streets of our neighborhood so I can try to forget about COVID-19 for a while, breathe some fresh air, and entertain the neighbors when I walk through a spider web.

Jase Graves
"Quips and Salsa" September 21, 2019 column


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