My walking philosophy
New Year’s is a time for me to snap family photographs, updating the last one’s from a full year previously. Neither of my children now likes to have their picture taken, which bothers me immensely. But New Year’s is an exception. I have my picture taken alone. Then me with each of my children in turn. Then me with each of my children together. Then the children by themselves. Then my wife alone. Then my wife with me. Then my my wife with each of the children alone and finally with both of the children together. I take pictures first with the digital camera. If it looks good then I repeat it with the film camera, and everything is done twice. The kids hate it. Or, maybe they hate me for it. “Hate” is certainly the wrong word to use, but you get the idea. Because it’s n annual picture ritual I want them to look good and that means that I go to some trouble to make sure image size is okay, the framing is right, the sun is in an advantageous position, etc. In other words, the shots are posed.
I had to take repeated pictures of my son because his posture, his gait, the way he held his head and his hands, and the way he wore his hat were all so awful that he variously looked like the Pillsbury Marshmallow Man or a slightly autistic pear.
I had to tutor him about good walking in order to get the pictures I imagined.
1) Control your hands. Don’t swing them around or let them hang at your side like dead branches. Keep them in your pockets. Don’t let them fly about. Girls won’t like that.
2) Keep your eyes down. Contrary to popular opinion, don’t meet other people’s eyes because it’s rude and even aggressive. Don’t allow others to see your eyes because that’s one way to guard your privacy.
3) Is related to 2. Keep your hat pulled forward to shade your eyes. Not only will comfortably shade your face from the sun, but it will further hide your eyes and guard your privacy. Concealed eyes will make you look a little intimidating, but that’s the point.
4) Walk with the longest stride possible. If you favor heavy shoes or boots the way I do this stride will make your feet fall heavily with a loud thump. People will hear you coming like T-rex in Jurassic Park and, hopefully, they will scatter in fear before your approach. I have favored heavy - either army surplus combat boots, or black leather work boots with steel toes - since university, and if I could have afforded them in high school I would have worn them then, too. The boots have buckles on them so that when I walk I make a faint jingling sound, like the spurs on Clint Eastwood’s boots in one of his Westerns. (In place of Eastwood’s famous squint, I substitute my concealed eyes.) Incidentally, the boots come in handy in a defense situation in case I ever have to kick the shit out of someone - which has only happened once, luckily.
5) If you must look at someone then give them a sideways glance with your downturned, slightly concealed eyes. Not only does it look a little menacing (a good thing), but it is one more measure to maximize your privacy in an already compromised situation. Whenever you look at people it’s always better to turn your eyes, not your head. That means, control your head just like you control your hands, and don’t throw it around. If turning is unavoidable then turn your whole body. Never swivel your head and turn to someone. Turning your whole body affords you maximum protection if a situation turns against your advantage because it makes you ready to meet anything with a forward orientation, and it makes you appear menacing.
6) Do everything slowly. Control your body and move with slow deliberation at all times. Move your head and your hands slowly. Walk slowly with those long strides. Look at people and surroundings slowly and with detail-capturing deliberation.
I asked Ken how I looked. He answered alternately “strange,” or “like a homeless man,” neither of which is what I’m aiming for. For me, personally, since high school the way I stand and walk has been a cultivated style to maximize my privacy.