Talking the Walk
How to take 10,000 steps a day
LORI OSIECKI ILLUSTRATION
My sister-in-law Gloriosa says she walks more than 10,000 steps a day. She got a Fitbit, which keeps track.
Her mother, Ms. Larda, ain’t impressed.
“Used to be, you wanted to save steps,” Ms. Larda says. “You were supposed to arrange your kitchen in a triangle: stove, sink, fridge – everything within reach. Plus, put your washer and dryer right off the kitchen; no trotting outside to no clothesline. You could be a manatee and get everything done.
“So we all got fat. And now they sell us Fitbitch,” she says, “Fitbit,” says Gloriosa. “It gives you motivation. Now I actually walk more than Modine.”
“No,” I say. “You don’t.”
Being a French Quarter tour guide, I walk for a living, and I’m kind of proud of that.
“Oh, yes, Modine, probably by several thousand steps,” Gloriosa says. And then she smirks.
Now, I love my sister-in-law, but she’s very competitive, and that smirk of hers drives me right up the wall.
“No,” I say again. “You. Don’t.” We are all sitting around eating crawfish in Ms. Larda’s backyard, and all of a sudden everybody gets quiet.
“Let’s prove it,” she says. And before I can say I ain’t got no Fitbit, my gentleman friend Lust announces I can use the one I gave him for Christmas that he ain’t got around to opening yet.
So, we’re on.
Next morning, I buckle Lust’s Fitbit on my wrist. It is a big, black, manly version, not like Gloriosa’s dainty pink one. I program it to “challenge.” And not that it makes any difference, but I realize I can’t lie, because the Fitbit automatically rats you out to your exercise “friend.”
That day I stomp all over the Quarter and through St. Louis No. 1 Cemetery, and up the stairs to the levee, twice. Fitbit records 8,231 steps and one staircase; Gloriosa somehow racks up 15,763 steps and three staircases.
The next day is no better. I get obsessed. When I charge it at night, I place it next to my bed and put it on when I get up to potty. Every step counts.
Then, come to find out, this Fitbit only gives me credit for steps if I also swing my arm. But when I lead a tour, I don’t swing my arm, I wave it around and point out the sights – not just the historical ones either, if you know what I mean.
Then I get the brilliant idea to strap it on my ankle. Next day I’m walking along, jabbering to my tour about the House of Voodoo, not looking where I’m going, and I step into a deep puddle. The Fitbit is on the other ankle, but I got to hop to the curb with one foot up like I’m playing hopscotch. Some old lady sees this, thinks I’m wearing an ankle monitor and complains to City Hall about the criminal element leading tours here.
So I put it back on my wrist. The next day, Gloriosa is 5,000 steps ahead of me and she posts me a message “Nyah, nyah, nyah.”
Pride goeth before a fall. That is in the Bible.
It so happens my daughter Gladiola is a counselor at the day camp where Gloriosa’s kids go. She notices Gloriosa’s little boy, Proteus, is running a lot of races. And he’s wearing a dainty pink wristband. So she asks him about it. Yep, he’s getting paid.
I stew about it all night. Next morning, still mad, I drive across the Causeway bridge for lunch with my friend Awlette on the Northshore. When I get back, I stop at a gas station and glance at this Fitbit I have taken maybe 200 steps all day – and it has me down for 3,231 steps and 13 staircases.
I call Awlette, and she says it’s a known fact. If the shocks in your car ain’t too good, Fitbit registers a step every time you bump across one of the expansion joints on the Causeway bridge. She don’t know why it gives me credit for stairs, except maybe because New Orleans is below sea level and the Northshore ain’t.
I turn right around and drive back to the Northshore, and drive back again. And again. I don’t stop until I am up to 20,000 steps, 26 staircases and am out of gas.
I send Gloriosa a message: “Nyah, nyah, double nyah.”