The Norman Transcript

October 5, 2012

Wie gehts?

The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Foreign languages can be confusing for folks who only speak English. And yet, it can be quite a bit of fun tinkering with the unknown.

For example, the column title “Wie gehts” [vee geyts] is German for “How’s it going?” But it sounds a bit like “gait” in English, meaning “walk, pace or step.” So, let’s play with this a little and ask “How’s your gait?”

One of the joys of people watching is focusing on how people move, in this case the act of walking. However, if you are living under the misconception that locomotion via the transportation of the apostles is a matter of putting one foot in front of the other, then you have not been paying attention.

My fascination with what can be termed the Pedi Project began when I realized that each person has a unique gait. In fact, a person’s walk reveals information about a person on a visual, emotional and aural level. Consequently, the walker’s personality, mood and body type are reflected in his or her gait.

Let’s consider a few examples.

A female college teacher was blessed with a Tweedle dee, Tweedle dum body, but her legs were skinny little sticks with size five feet attached. In her case, the disproportion between her body and tiny feet resulted in a mincing gait. Quite similar to how ancient Chinese women walked when the practice of binding women’s feet was in vogue. Back then, the dainty teetering gait was considered sexy by the men even though it was bloody painful for the women.

A similar walking style is prevalent among women today who choose to wear those divinely fanciful shoe styles with the five to seven inch heels. Yes, the high heels make their legs look fabulous. Nevertheless, each careful/dainty step they take is a potential ankle-breaking or leg-breaking event. In fact, they bring to mind those old silent, serial movies “The Perils of Pauline.” Except in their case, it is more about the perils of walking.

Some people walk with the determination of a juggernaut. It is a good idea to avoid getting in their way because the juggernauts will mow you down, and barely feel the impact. On the other hand, you will be dusting off their cleat marks from you body.

The Road Runners resemble the cartoon character of the same name as they zip hither and yon. The good news, they tend to skirt obstacles rather than plow through them. As you may have noticed, the Road Runners are the Type A dudes and dudettes who have never learned to ambulate in a serene manner. Their motto should be: “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get” (author unknown).

On the other hand, real life runners carry themselves with the grace and fluidity of ballet dancers, but without that telltale preening wiggle.

Speaking of wiggle, some ladies engage the wiggle to such an extent that guys watching such “tick tock” posteriors in action experience eyeball whiplash. A painful and disconcerting condition, particularly when the eyes get stuck at odd angles. There is also the constant and serious danger of those little wiggle warts knocking their backs out of whack.

Tired or overburdened folks plod along under the invisible yoke of their misery. Very depressing to watch and irritating to be behind because they block our paths.

Practically always cheerful people tend to bounce as they walk. As if they are poised to leap up in the sky and fly away or start dancing. An uninhibited co-worker indulges in skipping down the hall when no one is looking. Oops. She forgot about the security cameras.

Be a dear and wave to the nice security guard.

My favorite walkers let their entire bodies get in on the action. But each part moves separately from the others. There is no fluidity in their movements. Nevertheless, I have been known to gape in fascination at such anatomical marvels.

So, what’s your gait?

Elizabeth is a freelance writer and author. Email: Visit her website:

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