The Minnesota State Fair is one of the few social phenonmenons that gives typically and discreet Minnesotans permission to overtly study people without feeling ashamed or perverted. It’s the World Series for people watching. While strolling down Dan Patch Avenue, you and everyone around you become instant anthropologists; you are entitled to stare and gawk and ogle at length with reckless abandon.
This year, I’ve been studying modes of walking. The fair brings out walking patterns that seem as diverse as songbird species. For example, there seems to be at least four different speeds of strolling—there’s your basic default strolling, followed by the more curvish meandering, then there’s unfocused dawdling, and finally the completely aimless lollygagging.
Fortunately, injuries resulting from lollygagging are rare. However, I would like to describe a few potentially dangerous modes of walking that you and your loved ones should know about.
First, there’s the classic Watch-Out-I’m-Holding-a-Beer Walk. Persons exhibiting this behavior are known by a characteristically arched back suggestive of a threatened cat. This kind Beer Walk—not the “other” kind of Beer Walk—is a combination of protectively angled forearms and elbows that create a quasi-force field effect. But it’s not the elbows you have to watch out for as much as the fists…of the six foot seven foot biker who stood in line 15 minutes for the beer you just washed the pavement with.
Another form of perilous walking is the Young Anxiously Overprotective Parent Pushing a Stroller walk. You take your life into your own hands if you dare cross in front of this sociopathic parent. Watching someone being mercilessly run down by a baby stroller is not a pretty sight.
Some life-threatening walk forms involve unintentional violence, such as the Random Sensory-Activated Perpendicular turn. This behavior is revealed by someone who appears to be walking at a regular clip, but then suddenly sees the chocolate bananas and turns as if being mind controlled by a third party. If you’re standing in the way, chances are you will become a victim of the Random Sensory-Activated Perpendicular Turn.
The most insidious of the dangerous walks is the Tidal Wave, which is also the most difficult to detect. This walk involves someone who sees something attractive from a great distance away, and who appears to be walking toward it in a simple straight line, but on close examination they’re moving with the focus of a secret agent zeroing in on a fleeing suspect. Someone who is Tidal Waving hurls their body like a speeding locomotive minus the brakes, for as they approach their target they mow over anything in their way as they plunge toward the last bag of mini-doughnuts before closing time.
Now I don’t mean to sound too alarmist. The State Fair should be about having a good time; you shouldn’t have to dwell on the perils of pedestrian traffic patterns. After all, walking is one of the safest and healthiest forms of transportation—just as long as you know when to move the hell out of the way.