Make me thrill as only you know how
Sway me smooth, sway me now
-- Dean Martin --

I have, at the ripe old age of 38, finally mastered the feminine art of hip-swaying.

As pre-teens, my friends and I would parody The Walk, throwing our hips so far to the side that we risked dislocation with every step. As a thin and gawky teen, I joined a marching band, and in learning to walk military-style (any time a group of us went to the mall, we would eventually find ourselves marching in step to the muzak. It was horribly embarrassing) seem to have missed out on developing a girly sway. In my twenties, I took great pride in my long, masculine stride (Why? Damned if I know. In hindsight, it seems like a pretty lame – no pun intended – thing to be proud of.)

At 31, after a day-long hike with Dean, I developed tendonitis in my iliotibial band – the tendon that runs from the hip to below the knee. After some physio and (expensive) custom shoe inserts, it went from acutely painful to occasionally irritating. Walking downhill was the worst – every step brought a sharp flare of pain at my knee. It’s manageable, as long as I remember not to roll my feet when I walk, and exercise my quads, but every trip to the cabin, with its steeply sloping driveway, brings pain.

Until recently. I work with a woman who is about 8’ tall (OK, she’s really only about 6’2”, which is plenty big enough), who strides down the office corridors like a supermodel. I was mildly fascinated by her walk and started trying to figure out the mechanics of it for myself. There’s a loooong straight hallway between my desk and the washrooms, so I started practicing, trying to figure out how she does it. My own walk involves very little side-to-side motion, but my head and shoulders bob up and down. I discovered that if I concentrated on holding my head still, all that vertical momentum was translated into a pleasing side-to-side movement at hip level. After several months of practice, I can now sway with the best of them – even Dean has commented on the results.

And last weekend at the cabin, hills and all, my knee didn’t bother me once.