Just a Little Walk in the Park

Many women are well-groomed when they exercise. I am not one of them.

I shower, shampoo and make myself up once a day. To do so more than once would be to waste perfectly good reading, writing or front-porch-rocking time.

So, when I left my house this morning to walk the trail at Mike Miller Park, I was unwashed, uncombed, and unencumbered by the many layers of middle-age-defying make-up I use to hide the real me from public viewing.

Many women are well-dressed when they exercise. I am not one of them either.

I was wearing a pair of shorts that are loose enough to let my legs breathe . . . and bounce a bit. . . and a shirt I bought from an inebriated artist on a beach in Key West, Florida, in 1991.

Evidently, I looked particularly pitiful today. I met a guy in a Hollister shirt who must have assumed from my appearance that I was poor and destitute because he approached me with Christian concern and asked if I knew Jesus.

Coincidentally, Jesus was there with me on the trail today, as He is most days, and He and I were jamming just a bit to Amy Grant music.

(Those of you who think it would be impossible to jam to Amy Grant music don’t understand the limitations of my ability to jam. Amy and I are well suited.)

For an hour, she and Jesus and I walked together in the park. I was the one puffing, sweating and waving my hands in the air to an invisible and pathetically unrhythmic beat.

Unfortunately, we were not the only ones at Mike Miller Park this morning.

There were a few of those well-groomed, well-dressed, walking women. No problem there. I bent over and played with the laces of my tightly-tied shoes when I met the ones I knew. I passed the rest of them with a wave of my hand . . . palm turned upward in case they too thought I was homeless and were willing to drop in a dollar or two.

There were also hundreds of middle school students in the park on a field trip. My daughter, Tessa, was one of them.

A lesser, inexperienced mother would have known she would be there because she would have listened as Tessa talked this morning.

But, I am a master-mother. If I combine the time I have parented each of my five children, I have 114 years under my maternity belt. I learned long ago to look my children in the eye and nod convincingly while hearing absolutely nothing they say. It is the survival technique that kept mothers sane in the years before DVD players were put in our cars.

I did not know she would be there and I was pleasantly surprised when I ran into Tessa today.

She, on the other hand, was seriously mortified when I met her friends dressed like a bum and singing along with my invisible friends, Amy and Jesus.

Worth of my exercise attire: About $1.95 clearanced at Goodwill

Cost of a three mile walk: Headache, back strain, shin splints, leg cramps, knee pain, ankle blisters, respiratory distress and possibly a mild heart attack

Embarrassing my middle-school daughter: Perversely priceless