I will talk about 52 reviews and other news tomorrow, but for today, there is this, as promised …
I had an inexpensive bicycle. I bought it perhaps six years ago, when I imagined the girls and I might go bicycling together in the many parks and bicycle trails within easy pedaling of our house. The girls were not, as they are so often not where my yearnings are involved, inclined.
I turned to Mark, but the last bicycle he purchased never stopped screaming angry rubber protest every time he slowed … a hideous humiliating noise that Mark insisted was merely a function of “breaking in the brakes” right up until an attractive pedestrian giggle-snorted as he came to a shriek-stop at her crosswalk, at which point Mark decided the bicycle was defective and due for approximately a decade and a half of rust treatment, by which I mean he threw it in the backyard to return itself to the earth.
Even so, I turned to Mark, but he shook his head. “I don’t do bicycles.”
So I rode around the neighborhood all by myself, but half-heartedly. Everyone else I saw on a bicycle was wearing special clothes and special shoes and special helmets, and their bicycles were sleek and expensive and made out of something astronauts polished.
My own bicycle was blue and sturdy and fat-tired and its frame was generic metal; it had a comfy seat and gears that tended to skip. My bicycling outfit was jeans and a t-shirt. My helmet was large and ill-fitting and brightly colored. My feet were gym-shoe clad.
I rode around the neighborhood and through the parks, but I never found my people.
I put the bicycle in the garage.
And then Hazel the Weimaraner arrived … Hazel with her boundless energy and need for long walks and endless exercise. Hazel adores running alongside the bicycle as I ride, and I have come to the conclusion that if my biking people exist, they are the sort to not actually bike, and so I’m done looking for them. It’s just Hazel and me.
Hazel wears a harness and she is connected to the bicycle with a special bright yellow tow-leash that keeps her alongside me. I wear jeans and a t-shirt and gym shoes, and when it’s cold and wet, I also wear a fleece jacket and a neon green raincoat over that jacket. If it is especially cold, I wear a black balaclava (like a bank robber, so that only my eyes are visible) beneath my bike helmet, which is huge and round and glimmered purple and designed for someone with a Charlie Brown head, but I like it. I also wear black gloves. When it’s dark (and it gets dark early here in the winter), I also wear a yellow reflective safety vest so that drivers don’t flatten Hazel and me when we’re out riding.
Occasionally, I also carry a flashlight to help a hackles-up Hazel scan the fields for coyotes, which sometimes cry out in an apparently menacing manner as we cycle past their territory.
Basically, I have decided not to care what anyone thinks of me.
Including my children, who are, to put it bluntly, MOR-TI-FIED by my entire existence these days.
So … the other day, Mark and I were headed out to an auction, a school fundraising event we attend yearly at which we generally spend too much money. As I backed out of the driveway, Mark and I were discussing the fact that we generally spend too much money at this event, and I was suggesting that we should perhaps spend less money this year, and Mark was arguing that the money is for a good cause, and then there was a tragic garbled sound as I backed the car over something more than driveway.
Sighing, I put the car in PARK and climbed out to retrieve the mangled bicycle, which I dragged to a belatedly safer spot in the driveway where it could die in peace.
As I climbed back into the car, Mark looked up from his phone with exaggerated concern. “Is the car still driveable?”
I backed out of the driveway. “Stop talking.”
“Probably should have put your bike away before you backed over it.”
“You think?” We continued our drive to the auction.
After a moment, he said, “Not sure why you left your bike in the driveway.”
I said nothing.
“You have to be careful when you drive a car in reverse, or you can hit things.”
He said mildly, “So now that we’ve incurred this additional unexpected expense, we’ll maybe spend a couple hundred dollars less than we planned at the event this evening.”
“You are annoying me.”
“At least no one was riding the bike when you hit it.”
In the face of my continued silence, he mused, “Of course, that would mean you had hit yourself, and that’s probably a bit more than even you could manage.”
“Could you maybe stop being like yourself for one minute?”
The next minute revealed Mark continuing to be himself. “Hey, maybe there will be a bicycle up for auction!”
There was not.
There was, however, a unicycle.
Sometimes, Mark thinks he is very funny indeed.