The Giant Walk

Day 3 of my month of “Walking and Blogging.” I’m trying to get at least 10,000 steps in each day, and then blog about it that evening.

It was a lovely day today with my family — playground and ice cream and pool and dinner with my sister, my brother-in-law, and my two nephews. (Plus my wife and kids, of course!) I was able to get steps in throughout the day — reading this morning while walking around the living room and kitchen (Ben said, “Daddy, when are you going to stop?”); a few quick walks around the playground. But I finally got to 10,000 while walking from my parents’ house to the grocery store. And it reminded me of a very old tradition: the Giant Walk.

When I was in college, my friends Eric, Pete, and I started the habit of going for walks at night, usually sometime between 11:00 pm and 1:00 am. The house we lived in was about a mile from a Giant supermarket, and for some reason, it became our tradition not only to walk, but to “walk to Giant.” Almost every single night, at least two of us would make this pilgrimage. We would walk down Liberty Street, past houses where most people were probably asleep. I would sometimes be the one to remind the others to quiet down. Along the way, we would talk about all kinds of things. We would talk about our love lives, or about philosophy. We would talk about the Dungeons & Dragons-esque role-playing games we were playing with each other. We would talk about life, the universe, and everything.

We didn’t enter the parking lot the normal way — we would walk up a steep slope through a strange rock formation to approach the store from behind, and then walk around to enter in the front. We were grateful that this store was 24 hours. We’d walk through the store for a few minutes, occasionally buy something, and then walk home, talking more and more.

We even wrote a song about it, called “The Giant Walk,” to the tune of Men Without Hats’ “The Safety Dance.” I won’t repeat the lyrics here — they have since been deemed state secrets.

Sometimes we would even take Giant walks during the day. Sometimes we would have ulterior motives for the walks. There was a Blockbuster Video in the same shopping center. There was a Little Caesar’s Pizza in the same shopping center, and sometimes Pete would win us a free pizza using his mad skillz on the “SIMON” game they had there. There was also a silversmith there — we didn’t tend to go there in college, but my wife and I did buy our wedding bands there a few years later.

After we graduated, whenever we were back on campus for any reason, a Giant walk usually occurred. Pete now lives about a mile and a half from a Giant supermarket, and he and I routinely take that walk whenever I visit him.

Giant walks are one of the odd things that I share with my college friends. Everybody I knew in college knew about these walks. Some of them joined us from time to time. But the core was always the three of us. We don’t see Eric so much anymore; the big lug moved to New York, and then to Los Angeles, in pursuit of something called a “career.” But we are most certainly still in touch, and we all know that a major part of how we got to know one another, how we got to love one another, was through those ridiculous nighttime walks to Giant.

Do we all have weird traditions like that with our friends? Let me know in the comments!

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