I Don’t Think We’re Doing This Right

“Come on, Heifer,” I yell. I wait at the bottom of the stairs. There is no response. “You’re the one who wanted to do this shit, come on.” Still nothing. I yell one more time, “If you aren’t down here in five minutes, I’m not doing it.” My daughter, Ruby, finally comes down the steps.

“What? You don’t want to go?” I ask, hoping the answer is no.

“I’m ready,” she says. We head out the door to the walking track around the corner. I have my big Hello Kitty mug full of coffee. I have my special flavoring in it, Patron. I have on my pink Hello Kitty velour sweat suit and my pink aviator sunglasses. I am unsure of the mission that lies ahead, but it never hurts to match.

We walk to the end of our street and cut through the Sunoco gas station parking lot. “Wait a minute,” Ruby says as she heads into the station. I lean against the wall and light a cigarette. She comes out licking an orange cream push up. We cross the street and are at the walking track. We are starting a healthier lifestyle today.

We begin our first turn around the track. The track is sandwiched in between a self-service car wash and an express way. There is a lot of traffic. My daughter is dressed in shorts and a wife beater. She is very, very eye-catching. We walk in silence the first time around. She’s eating her ice cream and I am drinking my turbo coffee and smoking. When we near the side of the track where the cars stop at a light before getting on the express way, men yell their approval. My daughter gets irritated quickly.

“We’re not hookers, dumb asses. We’re fucking exercising,” she hollers at the cars.

“That’s right girl, keep it tight!” one the men replies. The other guys in his car laugh and they high-five his brilliance.

“That’s not gonna stop them. Just keep walking,” I instruct.

“I don’t think we’re doin’ this right,” she says.

“What do you mean? It’s a circle, you walk around it. End of story. Pretty soon the endorphins will kick in, you’ll be all right,” I encourage her.

“En—what?”

“Endorphins. It’s a chemical your brain releases when you exercise. Makes you feel good. That’s what causes runners high.”

“Well, I’m not runnin’. How many times around is a mile?” she asks.

“I don’t know. Someone spray painted the sign, I couldn’t read it. Like twice, probably.”

We start on our second lap. “I’m hot,” she announces.

“I’m hot, too. It’s good, you’ll sweat. Maybe burn off that ice cream you just ate.”

“I’m black, mom. I get hotter than you. I think I’m gonna faint,” she is serious.

“How many times have I told you, that is bullshit? Just finish this lap and we’ll go home. Next time we’ll try to add another one,” I say. She actually looks teary eyed. We finish the lap and go home. She runs into the house and takes the central air vent off the register on the living room floor and lays across it.

“You wanna go tomorrow when I get off work? The sun will be down,” I ask her.

“No, I’m just not gonna eat as much ranch dressing. That was horrible,” she says.

I walk into the kitchen and get another cup of coffee. Way easier to get coffee high than runners high. I just won’t eat as much macaroni and cheese. Baby steps.

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