Bowl Walking Redux

I know that I’ve touched upon this subject before but some areas of study can’t be limited to a single volume. Imagine summarizing the history of the world in a comic book. That’s why I want to add a word or two more about the experience of taking advantage of the JHS Bowl Walk for Wellness program.

I’ve determined that at both the Bowl and First Christian where they also open the doors for walkers, there are three types of participants: SW: Serious Walkers, WBS: Wanna-be Serious Walkers, and FLM: Folks Like Me. Of course the SW’s are the most interesting since they have patterns and rituals that vary very little and thus can be most easily studied. For example, most SW’s bring their own special pair of walking shoes. They get up in the morning and put on a comfortable pair of walking shoes then go to the JHS Bowl and change into an even more comfortable and perhaps therapeutic pair. The also tend to stare at their laces intently as they tie them as if an errant twist or knot might throw them into the bowels of the Bowl. When circling the Bowl you do not get in the way of these people. It’s not that they’re impolite, but they carry with them a determination that’s a bit frightening for folks in the two lesser categories.

The less fanatical WBS’s are in the majority most mornings. I don’t know that they actually wanna be more than a wanna-be, but they don’t seem to take things quite so seriously. SW’s swing their arms when they walk. This seems to be a necessity, slicing the air with wicked slashes of their arms while walking as if they were hacking their way through a Brazilian rain forest. . The WBS’s sort of let the appendages hang and flop around as they may. Those in my category, the FLM, tuck their hands into their pockets in an attempt to slink around the circle and not be noticed.

One recent discovery: If you walk the Bowl long enough and at about the same time of day you’ll begin to recognize people by their smell. Admittedly, it has to be a fairly potent aroma to be noticed in a room that on the previous evening was filled with sweaty basketball players. One lady in particular is a joy to smell. I don’t know enough about perfumes to identify the brand, but it smells expensive, and since she’s a fast walker, a SW, she passes me quite often. I enjoy being overtaken her and her fragrance. Then there are the two older fellows who always walk together and who I think visit Hardees or Norma’s right before they come to walk at the Bowl. When these old guys pass me. … and yes, old guys pass me. …I catch a whiff of bacon and on some mornings just the faintest wisp of maple syrup. These guys make me hungry.

And I’ve picked up a few useful tips in my trips around the JHS oval. For example, using a fake name doesn’t help. The powers that be sort of encourage you to sign in before you begin to walk, but I’ve been afraid that someone will spot my slow progress around the Bowl and go check to find my name. For that reason I have signed in variously as Sarah Palin, Harry Truman, and George Washington. Last week a speeding walker passed me and said, “Hi Sarah!” Drat. Found out.

It’s a useful trick to observe the walkers for a few minutes before you begin, I do this. I try to determine the slowest walker on the elevated track and jump in behind her or him. This way there will be at least one person I can pass. Of course on many mornings I look out there through the early morning mist of Armani perfume and Oscar Meyer bacon and I can find no one whom I can out walk.

And there’s nothing more humiliating than having a lady, twenty years your senior pass you . … twice. … three times. This is the time for drastic action, the water fountain technique. The founding fathers of JHS have put water fountains in each corner of the Basketbowl and when I feel as if I’m about to be overtaken by someone on a walker or owning just one leg, then I make a quick turn toward the fountain. If a see an entire herd of these geriatrics about to pass me then I’ll zip into the restroom. In fact, if I’ve made too many water fountain forays then I’ll need to do that anyway.

I’ve realized over the past months that I have two choices: I can walk or I can talk. Sometimes a very attractive young MacMurray music instructor walks with me and when I chat I find that my already dismal speed is cut in half.

I applaud and thank the guardian angels of both JHS and First Christian for making their facilities available to us. It’s been a mighty chilly winter to be jogging down Morton Avenue, and I hardly ever catch a whiff of perfume on that strip of highway.

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About the author

Ken Bradbury is an adjunct instructor of theatre at LLLC after retiring from Triopia. He entertains on the Spirit of Peoria riverboat and is the author of over 300 published plays. Website:

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