Sounds like a song, doesn’t it? Not a really good song. Just sort of a bluesy-swingy number with a sassy tempo:
I took my Wednesday walk on a Monday afternoon…
Yes, I did.
I took my Wednesday walk on a Monday afternoon…
Lord, what a Monday!
Came back and found my woman
Messin’ ‘round with my best pal
Sat down, turned on the TV,
Started watchin’ Reverend Al…
See, Reverend Al’s MSNBC show’s on in L.A. at three P.M., so it fits right into the woeful narrative. My woman’s cheating on me, and all I’ve got for comfort is PoliticsNation, which I really dislike. These are not the classic blues formulation, I’ll admit. It’s more a blues song for people who go to bed around nine.
Lemme set the scene for you here. It’s a Monday afternoon. Coming up on Wednesday of that week is Yom Kippur, where I’ll be fasting, and will not be available to take my regular Wednesday walk to Groundwork for coffee, Yom Kippur being a day where there’s no drinking allowed, so no coffee, and twenty-four hours of food deprivation turns walks into unsteady wobbles.
Normally on Yom Kippur, I go to synagogue, and take a series of naps. That’s about all I can handle. That, and using what’s left of my energy to will the sun to go down earlier, so I can eat.
That Monday afternoon, not unlike virtually every Monday afternoon, I find myself free of obligations, responsibilities or appealing ideas for killing the time. The idea flashes in my mind, a bell I am subsequently unable to un-ring, to take the walk I will be unable to take two days later, on that Yom Kippur Wednesday.
You read that right, Earl-followers. I have deliberately decided to move the day and time of my weekly walk. And they call me inflexible.
I allot myself considerable credit in this regard. It is not easy changing longstanding habits. I have tried putting my left shoe on first, but there’s, like, this magnetic force that will not allow it to happen. I stand in front of the bathroom sink ordering myself to, just once, brush my top teeth before brushing my bottoms.
No can do.
But here I am, heading down Fourth Street to the coffee emporium on Rose, like it’s a Wednesday morning around seven-thirty, when, in fact, it is a mid-Monday afternoon.
What was it like? As the legendary sitcom director Jim Burrows would observe concerning a jarring moment in a script,
“It feels weeid!”
My legs didn’t really want to go. There’s this thing called “muscle memory”, and my leg muscles remembered that I was taking this walk a day and a half early. And they were not at all happy about it.
The street felt different. More afternoon-ey. What does that mean? Well, you know how in the morning, there’s kind of a feeling of optimism in the air? Nothing bad’s happened yet; maybe nothing will?
By mid-afternoon, this hopeful innocence has melted away like the morning fog. Afternoons have seen things. Reality has kicked in. The uneven sidewalk, which is also of course present in the morning, but now, it reiterates the unevenness of life. The mocking foliage says, “What did you expect?”
I recognize many of the dogs from Wednesday morning, now out for their afternoon pees. Their reactions to my unscheduled appearance differ. Cognitive dissonance is not pretty in a Chihuahua, those oversized eyes, a mixture of confusion and fear screaming, “What’s going on!”
“Either this isn’t Monday. Or you’re not you!”
My appearance triggers the guard dog’s recollection:
“I know you, but not from today. Man, this is going to kill me till I get it.”
And then there’s the flirty dog, her seductive sashay signaling an awareness that I could not keep myself away until Wednesday.
The coffee too tastes different, more Monday than Wednesday. Not that they let it steep for two days so it’s stronger by the middle of the week. I can’t explain it exactly. It’s like they’d taken Sunday off, and on Monday, they were relearning how to brew the stuff. I mean, it tasted like coffee. But it lacked the certainty.
The whole point of my walk, besides getting out of the house, and enjoying the fresh air, and going to Groundwork for coffee – wait, I just gave three other reasons for doing it, so it can hardly be the whole point of the walk, can it? – let’s say the underlying, perhaps most significant point of the walk…is exercise. The walk, both ways, is maybe a mile and change. But the route is hardly flat. On the way back, there’s this precipitously steep hill up Fourth Street.
How steep is it? Sherpas huddle at the bottom of it, offering their services for the ascent.
This is a scarily steep hill.
In my heart, I know I’m not ready for it. My legs require a week’s hiatus between climbs. And I have only given myself five-and-a-half days.
Like a pitcher accustomed to four days’ rest between starts pressed into service after just three, maybe it’s psychological, maybe insufficient muscle rest, but the Monday trek was dramatically more arduous than ever. Passing cars slowly down to see if I’d make it. Or needed a ride to the “Emergency Room.” When I reached the summit, I thought I heard applause emanating from the nearby houses. Though I’ve been known to imagine applause in the past.
I often see interesting things on my regular-time walks, like a woman walking five dogs, leaving me wondering if she’s a professional dog walker, or just a woman who likes dogs.
The most interesting thing I saw on my Monday walk? Close to home, but across the street, I walked past a firefighter standing beside a long ladder that was positioned, not lying flat on the sidewalk, but instead, balanced on its side. When I asked the firefighter “What’s this?”, meaning “What’s going on?”, he replied, not that informatively, “It’s just a ladder.”
I also overheard two young women walking their dogs discovering they were both named Elissa. But there the coincidence ended. One spelled it E-l-i-s-s-a, the other A-l-y-s-s-a, which seemed to cool their budding relationship.
Those were the most interesting things I noticed – a ladder balanced on its side, and two women named Elissa who spelled their names differently.
I think you’re right.
From now on,
I’m stickin’ to Wednesdays.