Growing up, we lived above my Dad’s store. The store was open six days a week (it was still unlawful to open on Sundays at that time). As kids, we mostly played outside where we belonged. If it was rainy or cold we might have the occassion to play indoors. When we were indoors, there was one important rule we had to follow:
Some might call it stomping. We called it thumping. It was always unacceptable.
What is it? It’s a way of walking or running where you drive your heel first into the ground or floor. If the ground outside wasn’t too dry, a thumper might make dull thudding noises if he were to trot across a soccer field. In our 100-year-old house, a thumper would shake the pictures off the walls, and in my Dad’s estimation, scare all the customers away.
I don’t thump. I have thought of two scenarios as to why:
- My Dad told me it was not acceptable and I re-trained myself how to walk properly.
- I walked properly in the first place.
Properly? Are we allowed to say that about someone’s attributes? People should be nurtured to walk, talk, speak, or act however they want to, right? Not in 1985. In 1985, if your boy wanted to wear a dress to school, for example, you might consider that improper. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
For a moment, it crossed my mind if I was raised by Charlize Theron I might still be a floor thumper. Nah. I’m leaning more toward the second scenario above, “I walked properly in the first place.”
How do I know it is the proper way to walk? In the words of Eddie Vedder, “It’s Evolution Baby!”
Let’s look at the animal kingdom. My dog is the only member of this household (besides myself) that is a non-thumper. She has killed a lot of animals (sorry PETA) in our backyard. I attribute this to her stealth – something you can’t achieve if you are thumping your way toward your prey.
In the wild, you’ve gotta have stealth or you’re not going to eat. In the words of one caveman to another, “Ugh, why food run away?”, and his reply, “You walk hard. Food run.”
So does any of this matter in a time when I can just walk to the grocery store and buy my food? Have I done any service to my children by yelling at them, “Quit thumping,” as my father, and probably his father before him, did?
Maybe. I’ll use my imagination. When the power has gone out and the grocery store has been looted and it’s squirrel-catching time, it might be handy to be light on the feet. When some jackass with full body armour and an assault rifle is making his way through Wal-Mart, like he’s going for the high score in a video game, a little stealthy walking could come in handy. Maybe we’re on an airplane. Terrorists have seized the cockpit. Mark Wahlberg is in the seat next to us. Together we come up with a plan. We’ll need to move quickly, but quietly.
The truth is, all fantastical scenarios aside, it would be nice to be able to sit down and play the guitar without it feeling like there is a herd of elephants in the room.