Gabby Normal: Walk on the wrong side | Opinion | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Gabby Normal: Walk on the wrong side

“What it is about me that says to strangers, ‘I should tell that girl what a dummy she is’?”

I’m the kind of person to whom strangers love to give unsolicited advice.

The other day, I was taking a walk around my suburban plan, and there was this old man sitting on his porch waving me over to his house. I walked over, not worried he was a serial killer because I knew I could take him. He wanted to tell me that I walk wrong. In fact, those were his exact words: “I wanted to tell you that you walk wrong.” 

Dumfounded, I asked “what?" He repeated his previous statement. Chuckling, I replied: “I’m remaining upright and moving forward. I think I’m doing it kind of right.”  At this point, he went on to explain that walking is only a good exercise if you want to lose weight, and that I don’t need to lose weight, so I’m doing it all wrong.

I thanked him for the advice and began to walk home. And I couldn’t help but wonder if the old man was using walking as a metaphor for life.

The following thoughts rapidly flew through my brain within 15 seconds: 

Was he trying to say that I am doing life all wrong? Or did he just mean walking? Do I walk all wrong? I mean, exercise all wrong? No, I love my walks. They help with my mania. They can’t be wrong. Wait. Who even was that guy? Why am I listening to a word that man said? God knows what meds that old coot is on, and I’m listening to his advice! I can’t believe I walked over there!! What if he was a serial killer?!!! 

Needless to say, I was mouth-breathing and tapping my fingers the rest of the walk home.

I can’t even tell my shrink this happened because she prohibits me from making eye contact with strangers. She’d be so mad to find out that I went over to a stranger’s porch for unsolicited advice. 

What it is about me that says to strangers, “I should tell that girl what a dummy she is”? 

Eventually, I let the exchange go so as to not become obsessed with it. One mini-meltdown was permitted, but I wasn’t going to let this stranger ruin something that really helps both my mental and physical health.

Now, when I walk by his house, I shake my head thinking about the kind of person who would tell someone “you walk all wrong.” That guy might not be John Wayne Gacy, but he’s definitely a clown.

Follow featured columnist Gab Bonesso on Twitter @GabBonesso.

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