Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Dead Don't Whine

Question of the day: Why do people go on a walking tour if they don't like to walk?

Would you enter a marathon if you didn't run?

Honestly, some people just need to get a clue.

With absolutely nothing on the books for this afternoon, I decided at 1:50 to take the 2:00 Hollywood Cemetery walking tour.

As the last arrival, I have to say I was amazed to find forty or more people waiting for the tour to start; later, the tour guide said the average group is ten to twenty.

I just figured there were a lot of geeks like me (walking enthusiasts with a taste for history) free today, but as it turned out, that wasn't exactly the case.

Maybe it was partially an age thing, since probably two thirds of the group was 50+, but some of the loudest complainers were under 30 ("My age may be young, but my body's old," one girl whined).

When the guide told us that we were going to "march up that hill" the incredulous looks on some of their faces were priceless.

Clearly walking means different things to different people.

The guide said that the tour would cover 2 1/2 miles and last two hours.

It actually took 2 1/2 hours because our oversize (both literally and figuratively) group took so long to get from place to place.

Still, I really enjoyed myself. As many times as I've been through Hollywood, including writing and directing a video shoot of it for my last employer, I learned all kinds of new information today, so that was nerdily satisfying.

Before the purchase of the land for the rural-style cemetery, it was a dueling and hunting ground, not that I think for a moment that there aren't still fights and perhaps even a bit of scavenging that goes on there (the PBR cans I saw lined up next to a decorated tomb stone from 1874 attested to something).

I didn't know that the gatekeeper's residence is a Queen Anne kit house, bought from a catalog (or that in the 19th century you could buy burial monuments from a catalog).

Or that stones were left like calling cards at tombstones to indicate a visit from a loved one.

For the most part, I stayed at the front of the straggling pack so as not to have to deal with the painfully slow walkers, but I still heard some of the complaints from the group.

"Does she really expect us to walk for another hour?" and "I'm too old for this much exercise."

One woman said she had been planning to go to Disney World with her grandkids next month, but now she was realizing what a handicap she was going to be to them. How sad is that?

And two women showed up for a walking tour in dressy clothes and heels. Heels!

The guide told me that she's suggested to the tour's sponsor, the Valentine Museum, that they rate their walking tours according to difficulty to prevent people from being subjected to a more challenging walk than they want.

I wouldn't have minded scaring off the whiners either, but then the tour would have been down to about four of us and that wouldn't make much money for the Valentine, now would it?

Since cemeteries were where 19th century urban dwellers went for recreation (before the advent of public parks), I got a retro kick out of doing a Sunday stroll through the headstones and monuments, much like Richmonders did 150 years ago.

I'm going to guess that, like me, they just enjoyed it, rather than complaining all the while.

Not sure, but I don't think whining about walking was done back then.

Oh, for the good old days.

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