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Wednesday, May 23, 1990 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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If Dork-Walking Is Too Strenuous, You Can Hit The Links

Tribune Media Services

The fastest-growing sport for the over-40 set is the popular Walking Like A Dork; all you need is a ridiculous outfit, a Sony Walkperson and an enormous butt. And if dork-walking is too strenuous, or if you are in a coma, you can turn to golf instead. Part 4 of five parts excerpted from ``Dave Barry Turns 40.''

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In the Pantheon of Sports Heroes (which is next to the Skeet Shooting Hall of Fame), you'll find the names of many legendary athletes who remained active in sports well after they turned 40 - Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey, Picasso, Secretariat - the list goes on and on.

What do these great competitors have in common? Right. They're all dead. So you see how important it is for you to slow down as you get older, to abandon the active sports you enjoyed so much in your youth - basketball, tennis, racquetball, drinking a quart of Jim Beam and leaping naked into the motel pool from the eighth-floor balcony, etc. It's time for you to start ``acting your age'' by getting involved in the kinds of sports activities that are more appropriate for mature, responsible adults, such as:

SHRIEKING AT

LITTLE LEAGUERS

To participate in this highly popular sport, all you need to do is get a small child who would be infinitely happier just staying home and playing in the dirt, and you put a uniform on this child and make him stand for hours out on a field with other reluctant children who are no more capable of hitting or catching or accurately throwing a baseball than they are of performing neurosurgery. Then you and the other grown-ups stand around the perimeter and leap up and down and shriek at these children as though the fate of the human race depended on their actions.

The object of the game is to activate your child if the ball goes near him, similar to the way you use levers to activate the little men in table-hockey games. Your child will be standing out in right field, picking his nose, staring into space, totally oblivious to the game, and the ball will come rolling his way, and your job is to leap violently up and down and shriek ``GET THE BALL! GET THE BALL!!'' repeatedly for several minutes until your child finally is aroused from his reverie long enough to glance down and discover, to his amazement, the ball. The ball! Of all things! Right here in the middle of a Little League game! While your child is staring at the ball curiously, as if examining a large and unusual tropical insect, you switch to yelling: ``THROW THE BALL! THROWTHEBALL THROWTHEBALL THROWTHEBALL! THROW THE BALL, DAMMIT!!''

And so, seconds before you go into cardiac arrest on the sideline, your child will pick up the ball and hurl it, Little-League style, in a totally random direction, then resume picking his nose and staring off into space. As you collapse, exhausted, the ball will roll in the general direction of some other child, whose poor unfortunate parent must then try to activate him. Meanwhile the other team's parents will be shrieking at their children to run around the bases in the correct direction. A single game can go on for weeks.

OTHER GOOD SPORTS

FOR OLDER PEOPLE

Probably the fastest-growing sport for the over-40 person is one that combines the advantages of a good cardiovascular workout with the advantages of looking like you have a bizarre disorder of the central nervous system. I refer to:

WALKING LIKE A DORK

Walking like a dork has become very popular among older people who used to jog for their health but could no longer afford the orthopedic surgery. The object of dork-walking is to make a simple, everyday act performed by millions of people every day, namely walking, look as complex and strenuous as Olympic pole-vaulting. To do this, you need to wear a special outfit, including high-tech color-coordinated shorts and sweat clothes and headbands and wristbands and a visor and a Sony Walkperson tape player, little useless weights for your hands and special dork-walking shoes that cost as much per pair as round-trip air fare to London.

But the most important thing is your walking technique. You have to make your arms and legs as stiff as possible and swing them violently forward and back in an awkward, vaguely Richard-Nixonlike manner. It helps a lot to have an enormous butt, waving around back there like the Fuji blimp in a tornado.

But as you age, you may find that even dork-walking is too strenuous for you. In this case, you'll want to look into the ultimate aging-person activity, a ``sport'' that requires so little physical activity that major tournaments are routinely won by coma victims. I refer, of course, to:

GOLF

Nobody knows exactly how golf got started. Probably what happened was, thousands of years ago, a couple of primitive guys were standing around, holding some odd-shaped sticks, and they noticed a golf ball lying on the grass, and they said: ``Hey! Let's see if we can hit this into a hole!'' And then they said: ``Nah, let's just tell long boring anecdotes about it instead.''

Which is basically the object, in golf. You put on the most unattractive pants that money can buy, pants so ugly that they have to be manufactured by blind people in dark rooms, and you get together in the clubhouse with other golfers and drone away for hours about how you ``bogeyed'' your three-iron on the par six, or your six-iron on the par three, or whatever. Also you watch endless televised professional golf tournaments with names like the Buick Merrill Lynch Manufacturers Hanover Frito-Lay Ti-D-Bol Preparation H Classic, which consist entirely of moderately overweight men holding clubs and frowning into the distance while, in the background, two announcers hold interminable whispered conversations like this:

FIRST ANNOUNCER: Bob, he's lying about 18 yards from the green with a 14 mile-per-hour wind out of the northeast, a relative humidity of 72 percent and a chance of afternoon or evening thundershowers. He might use a nine-iron here.

SECOND ANNOUNCER: Or possibly an eight, Bill. Or even - this makes me so excited that I almost want to speak in a normal tone of voice - a seven.

If you really get into golf, you can actually try to play it sometime, although this is not a requirement. I did it once, with a friend of mine named Paul, who is an avid golfer in the sense that if he had to choose between playing golf and ensuring permanent world peace, he'd want to know how many holes.

So we got out on the golf course in one of those little electric carts that golfers ride around in to avoid the danger that they might actually have to contract some muscle tissue. Also we had an enormous collection of random clubs and at least 3,000 balls, which turned out to be not nearly enough.

The way we played was, first Paul would hit his ball directly toward the hole. This is basic golfing strategy: You want to hit the ball the least possible number of times so you can get back to the clubhouse to tell boring anecdotes and drink. When it was my turn, we'd drive the cart to wherever my ball was, which sometimes meant taking the interstate highway. When we finally arrived at our destination, Paul would examine the situation and suggest a club.

``Try a five-iron here,'' he'd say, as if he honestly believed it would make a difference.

Then, with a straight face, he'd give me very specific directions as to where I should hit the ball. Sometimes after my swing, the ball would still be there, surrounded by a miniature scene of devastation, similar to the view that airborne politicians have of federal disaster areas. Sometimes the ball would be gone, which was the signal to look up and see how hard Paul was trying not to laugh. Usually he was trying very hard, which meant the ball had gone about as far as you would hide an Easter egg from a small child with impaired vision. But sometimes the ball had completely disappeared, and we'd look for it but we'd never see it again.

So anyway, by following this golfing procedure, Paul and I were able to complete nine entire holes in less time than it would have taken us to memorize ``Moby Dick'' in Korean. We agreed that nine holes was plenty for a person with my particular level of liability insurance, so we headed back to the clubhouse for a beer, which, despite being a novice at golf, I was able to swallow with absolutely no trouble. The trick is to keep your head up.

IMPORTANT FINAL WORD

OF ADVICE

Whatever sport you decide to become involved in, you should not plunge into it without first consulting with your physician. You can reach him on his cellular phone, in a dense group of trees, somewhere in the vicinity of the 14th hole.

(From ``Dave Barry Turns 40,'' by Dave Barry. To be published in June 1990 by Crown Publishers, Inc. Copyright, 1990 by Dave Barry. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Tribune Media Services.)

Tomorrow: How To Cope With . . . With . . . Wait, It's Right on the Tip of My Tongue . . .)

Copyright (c) 1990 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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