My mother-in-law, Ms. Larda, got a fitness tracker for her birthday. Her daughter, Gloriosa, decided it would be good for her.

She straps it on Ms. Larda’s wrist, and goes into a long explanation about how it tracks your heart rate, and sleeping hours, every step you take. And you can sync it …

“Zinc it? asks Ms. Larda. (She’s says “zinc” for “sink,” like lots of people in New Orleans.) “In the bathtub?”

“No! Not sink. (She says “sssink.”) It’s not waterproof. Sync it. Synchronize with my computer. So I can keep track of everything …”

“Humph, “ says Ms. Larda. “ they should call it The Stalker.”

Gloriosa also gives trackers to her brothers, Leech and Lurch, even though they burn all their calories warming barstools.

There is a reason for all this generosity. Gloriosa’s rich husband’s daddy owns a company that issued fitness trackers to all their employees to improve performance. They were supposed to challenge each other to see who was the fittest.

Naturally, they all started thinking of ways to fool this thing.

Some of them strapped the trackers on their dogs. The problem with doing that is, you never know what the dog will do while he’s wearing it, if you know what I mean
Gloriosa says the fitness trackers even sense when you’re engaged in energetic private activities. Now a normal person would naturally take the tracker off before they engage in energetic private activities, but dogs don’t care. So Old Mr. Proteus kept getting reports that his workers were performing energetic private activities on the corner of Carrollton and Plum streets, or under the house at 4201 Fern St., and like that.

He lost some sleep over it, so he stopped giving the trackers out, and Gloriosa got the leftover ones.

This turns into a windfall for me.

I got to explain. I walk the streets for a living, but not like you think. I am a walking tour guide, which means I lead groups around the French Quarter and point out the sights – and there’s a lot of them.

So last week, my brother-in-law Leech is sitting at the Sloth Lounge, brooding over how he’s losing a challenge with his girlfriend Trinket, who wears a tracker and does aerobic dancing, for God’s sake. Then I pass by on my way to lead a tour, and he gets an idea. He yells “Modine!” and whips off his tracker and says, “Wear this.”

I say, “You losing a bet? How much?” He says “Ten bucks for you if you wear it – and I’ll get you some more customers.” Immediately, four more Sloth regulars who have got themselves into fitness challenges they can’t win hold out their trackers. By the time I leave, I got two bands on each arm and one on my ankle.

Well. Ms. Larda hears about this and decides I need to wear her tracker, too. Gloriosa is following Ms. Larda’s every move on her computer and calling every day and telling her to walk more. This will shut her up.

I get into a routine. Every day I stop at the Sloth, collect trackers, do my two-hour tour and return them. I wear Ms. Larda’s all the time, since I don’t want to run out to Chalmette every day.

It works fine, until I get the trackers mixed up.

It would be the night Leech has a romantic evening with Trinket. And he got no more sense than a Chihuahua and don’t bother to take off the tracker, which unfortunately is Ms. Larda’s.

Next morning, Gloriosa calls me up and tells me her mama burned 762 calories on Bourbon Street last night, and then wound up at the Monteleone Hotel and burned some more calories. And now she’s evidently asleep.

At her age. And her a graduate of Celibacy Academy.

And then I realize I ain’t wearing Ms. Larda’s tracker no more.

I tell Gloriosa that I think she got a malfunctioning tracker, and she should call the manufacturer. That should keep her on the phone for a couple hours yelling at somebody in India, while I hightail it over to the Monteleone, snatch that tracker off Leech and hit “reset.”

Then I bring it to Ms. Larda, tell her I saved her reputation and hint that maybe she should wear this tracker next time she gets in the bathtub.

“I’ll zinc it,” says Ms. Larda. And that solves that.