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Query From the Unjogging: Why Do They Do It?

I'VE got nothing against joggers personally. But what I don't understand, of course, is the why. Why, for example, they do it. Or why they do it in wet weather. Or, why they don't realize how old hat they look. Don't they realize that this strangely contrived occupation belongs to a period past and gone? There they go, joggety-joggety, as glum and intent as ever, extending the '70s beyond all reason into the '90s, jog, jog, jog-jog.Nothing against them personally - only I really do prefer them sitting down or at least in some kind of resting position. Seems more normal somehow. All that unnecessary expenditure of energy! Now walking - that would be all right. My dog and I walk smoothly, appreciatively, with due grace. We don't bump and bounce and find it impossible to draw enough breath to bid a civilized "good morning" to our fellow-man/woman. We don't have sweat-shiny features and need showers when we get back home. And we don't cross intersections without pausing for a second - as if we had as much clout and size as a full-scale vehicle - causing brakes to screech and commuters to wake up and gape in mute surprise. We stride, we pause, we have time for thought, we observe the migrating birds and the budding wild orchids. We don't trundle and trample and ... semi-run. Semi-runners claim they observe things as they move through the reverberative air. But how can they? Isn't their world forever jolting and jumping down and up, up and down, like an old film? And don't imagine it's just me that thinks walking is best. Dog too. Oh yes. Once or twice I've tried him out on the jog-notion, just as a kind of outdoor laboratory experiment. I can report he does not like it, not in the least. It upsets him. He walks quite happily. It means he has time for the important things: the sweet and mystical savor of yonder grass-patch, to be nosed and nosed and still nosed again. If he jogged - if he were a dog-jogger - how could he nose the nose-worthy? Tell me that! Anyway, real dogs don't jog because real dogs don't do things by halves. They either walk - or they run like mad. Running, that's serious. That matters. That gets somewhere. Jogging is so demure, so 25 percent, so middling. Come to think of it, there is a local dog that jogs. Poor fellow. His master dons the gear, gets in no time pink of face, glazed of eye, grim of chin - jog-jog - and the dog, he's harassed, forced to keep up, never allowed a diversion, harried and pushed, unmistakably miserable. Like Lewis Carroll's White Rabbit, he is, late, late, for a very unimportant date, overworked of leg, over-lolled of tongue. If he had a fob-watch he'd be looking at it desperately. That's no life for a dog. Or a cat!! Think of that - a cat jogging. Ridiculous. No cat I've ever met would be caught dead jogging. Cats are far too circumspect, self-respectful, dignified, and too interested in their surroundings to propel themselves with relentless and uncomfortable determination along pathways and roadsides for no good purpose at all. And anyway cats stay super-fit jogless, unjogged, and unjogging; cats know a thing or two. They reserve their resources, don't expend them in rhythmic and pointless up-downing of feet. They never worry about the putting on or the taking off of weight. Haven't you ever seen a fat cat leap, pounce, swerve, and veer? Vanish pronto 20 feet up a gingko tree? It's as magically agile, as light-swift and dire-deft as a glance. How does the fat, fat cat achieve such lithe delight? Easy. He lies around all day in the sun dreaming massive and stolid dreams, and solemnly intersperses such natural inactivity with vast bouts of downright eating. He counts not a calorie, balances no diet. He indulges, he bulges. And he's as flick-of-the-wrist and fleet-of-the-forepaws as a moonbeam, so there. There is, I suspect, a good reason why Pavlov didn't try his learned behavior experiments with cats: Cats don't learn behavior. Actually, I don't believe my dog would respond to the sound of a bell, either. It's joggers Pavlov should have used as guinea pigs. Easy material. Every morning when decent folk are intelligently sleeping, the jogger's bell sounds, and up he or she leaps - into the shorts, out on the street. No time for toast. No time for the news. Pavlov's joggers. But nothing personal, naturally. Occasionally you do see a jogger who appears to be enjoying it.

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