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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

These Boots Are Made for What, Now?

For the past two days — and, I’m told, for the upcoming weekend, too — I’ve been carless. Completely and entirely without vehicle. Deprived of ride. Persona non automobila.

I had no idea how naked I would feel without forty-five hundred pounds of steel, chrome, and pleather wrapped around me, but I’ll go on record here to say that it’s a very uncomfortable experience. I wouldn’t recommend it. And I’m starting to feel a little drafty.

“I’m not going to get very far without the car; I’m starting to feel like I’m under house arrest, without all the judiciary flip-flops and courtroom histrionics.”

The main problem here is where we live. It’s a nice enough area, but it’s not terribly close to convenient public transportation, like the Boston subway, express busses, or those little swan boats you rent to paddle around the pond in Boston Common. Not that I’d particularly want to commute down the Charles River in a swan boat, mind you, but if we were a little closer to the river, maybe I’d think about it. We’re in an inconvenient spot, is what I’m trying to say.

Given where my office is now, and the transportational gyrations I’d have to go through to get there from here without a car, I’ve worked at home the past two days. My usual commute is around twenty minutes. WIthout my ride, I’d have to take a bus a couple of miles to the subway, then take one line downtown to catch another line outbound to my building — around an hour-and-a-half trip each way, I’d say.

When you add in time spent in meetings, eating lunch, and sobbing quietly at my computer, I’d basically be getting to work and turning right around to leave again. This way, I’ve been able to get up and be productive right away. Sobbing in my pajamas first thing in the morning is saving me tons of time. I should’ve thought of it sooner.

Getting all that work done has left plenty of time for fun — but my options are limited there, too. I’m not going to get very far without the car; I’m starting to feel like I’m under house arrest, without all the judiciary flip-flops and courtroom histrionics.

That said, some items on the old social calendar require leaving home — and are not to be missed. Like last night, when the playoffs in one of my volleyball leagues was scheduled in a gym a mile or so away from my house. My options were grim — a cab would be awfully expensive, even for the short ride. I’m not a Zipcar member. And there’s not a single bicycle, skateboard, Segway, or pair of inline skates in the house. So what’s a fat lazy old coot already scheduled to get his exercise for the month to do?

Finally, I found the answer. While looking for emergency horse and buggy rental information on the internet, I came across something called ‘walking’. Like I mentioned, we’re too far out in the ‘burbs for this ‘walking’ phenomenon to catch on much, but it looks like it’s all the rage in the big cities these days. Rumor has it that people in New York City have fifty different words for walking. Amazing.

I downloaded an instruction sheet — something about flinging each foot in front of the other in succession — practiced on the sidewalk outside for a while, and gave it a shot. It wasn’t nearly as tricky as I thought it would be. By the time I was halfway there, I had really gotten the hang of it. I consulted my cheat sheet and even tried a few variations. I ‘sauntered’ for a while, ‘ambled’ around one corner, and ‘strolled’ for nearly a whole block. Then I nearly pulled a groin attempting to ‘mosey’, and went right back to basic walking. No need to swing for the fences the first time out.

In the end, though, I made it. I ‘walked’ all the way to the gym. Oh, I got a ride home afterward — I’m no fool over here — but I proved to myself that even out here in the suburban wastelands, I can occasionally squeak by without a car. I might even try some more of this ‘walking’ business tomorrow.

Just don’t ask me to mosey any time soon. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

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