Sunday, January 11, 2009

Baby Steps

Baby steps, they say.

We’ve all heard the phrase. When embarking on a giant new venture, or taking on something steps. Makes the task or the journey a little easier to tackle, one small step at a time.

You know when else you should use baby steps? When Mother Nature sprinkles down a nice freezing drizzle and coats...oh, just about a shiny, thin layer of ice.

I was out in Madison with some buddies last weekend, watching the football games, and while we’d heard the forecast and knew what was probably coming our way, it was still a sight to see when we came out of the popular chicken wing establishment (not the one with the orange shorts, the one with all the W's) after the games were over.

Rather than head for home, somebody in our group decided we should go downtown to a piano bar that was supposed to be popular. I left my finely iced car in the parking lot, and off we went in a car less affected by the elements, to listen to tunes from Billy Joel and Cat Stevens and Elton John.

Then someone else got the bright idea to head to another bar that was “just a block away.” This is where the baby steps came in handy on Saturday.

When we got outside, it was slow going, and balance was key. Any attempt at a regular walking stride would have been met with certain horizontality along the sidewalk, so there was much shuffling and reaching for stationary items to help us on our journey.

The one-block estimate was actually off by about three, so we stepped gingerly over ice and through snow that had better footing, turning to see the Capitol building lit up and glowing quite nicely in the night. (no photos to accompany this statement, however. because if I would have had my camera, I would certainly have wiped out, and been minus one camera.)

I found myself overwhelmed by a fit of laughter at the sight of the four of us as we slithered and slid up the sidewalk. Remember that Tim Conway character from the old Carol Burnett shows? The world’s oldest man? That’s how we were walking.

We got to the hipster bar and listened to a little jazz funk from a five-piece band crammed onto a corner stage that could really only comfortably hold about three people. And when the lights came on after last call, it was time to slide our way back.

This time, as we walked past the Capitol, there were about a half dozen people using the long, slanted approach to the building as a slide, not caring much about their clothes as they lay on their backs and came down the angle to the sidewalk below.

It looked like fun, but I didn’t want to shuffle all the way to the top just for a 15-second joy ride to the bottom.

The laughing fit that struck me on the way up came back and hit me again on the walk back to the car. Apparently ice plus late nights in Madison plus trying to stay upright (plus more than a few beers) equal one funny scene.

There were three wipeouts among our group during our round trip (I was not one of them), and after taking inventory that no wrists or hips or elbows...or skulls...had any new cracks in them that weren’t there before the spill...well, that just added to the hilarity, of course.

I don’t have much use for winter, but I guarantee the sight would have been much less entertaining if it was just a walk in a cold spring rain.

“When I see a slippery slope,
my instinct is to build a terrace.”
—John McCarthy


  1. So you were down there (short of A-bomb & Champ! I didn't know who was part of that most impressive BW's tab that was text pic'd to me).

    I didn't think A-Bomb sought you out to wager on games, but if you were on hand...

    You wanna pay for my BHTM ticket too? :)

  2. Yeah, it was a very...very...good night of 23s, TheKid. Split up into two tabs and everything! We outlasted two servers and moved on to our third before we got out of there.

    Considered taking the Blazin' Challenge, but the biggest T-shirt they had was like a medium, I think. (sorry...but I want the T-shirt more than the Blazin's).

    How 'bout this: I'll pay for your Big Head Todd ticket, if you buy my beer all night.