Posts Tagged ‘lady bike’

A Thunderous Compadre and Sage-esque Advice

At long last, I am able to sit and write, to ponder, pontificate, reflect, and furrow my brow in pretend depth-of-thought (consternated squinting might be a more accurate description). I have been distracted from my responsibilities as blog-master by a series of harrowing experiences that have involved the rescue of numerous orphans, impromptu muay thai fights, and hijacking prevention- all of which concluded with my shirt in tatters and my vascular musculature pulsating as a passing breeze warmed by a blaze in the background gently wafts through my hair and wife embraces my left bicep (*fade to black). In another reality, it turns out that living in a foreign country differs vastly from globetrotting adventures that force one into awkward and hilarious encounters, especially when there is the persistent absence of a hilarious cousin or a Norwegian giant. The reality of “living” in Nottingham has finally taken root. Be that as it may, “living” was not able to prevent the following day from elapsing:

Shortly after wife had left for work, I hopped on my über-masculine bicycle and headed to the university. While on the ride I recalled my humiliating journey into the town centre only weeks earlier and rejoiced at not having to endure such embarrassment on a regular basis. It was during this reflection, however that I began to observe the frame of my own mode of conveyance and realized it bore striking similarities to wife’s bike. Dentritic connections fired throughout my brain, a small mass grew into a large lump in my throat. I swallowed this welling sadness and involuntarily uttered, “I own a lady’s bike.” Unable to abandon the cycle, I attempted to encourage myself and weigh the positive aspects. Should I ever fall forward from the seat, the low frame will prevent fatherhood-ending injuries. Why did I have to buy a fuchsia chain? Fortunately, the parsimonious penny-pincher in me was quick to remind that the bike came free of charge. So I rode toward the university with my head raised a bit higher.

As a side note for those of you who doubt, let me assure you that making motorcycle sounds with your mouth actually increases your velocity exponentially. My record-setting speed on this morning, however, was inadvertently obstructed by a young Asian man travelling at a leisurely pace… in the middle of a bike path. I am unsure of why this happens with ever-increasing frequency, but nearly every morning I avoid a collision only barely with a person of similar ethnic descent on the same path. Perhaps it is a conspiracy hatched by the Chinese to infiltrate the world’s cycle route system, causing mass-pandemonium, and preventing university attendance in other countries while their own students excel at home. I’m on to you. You may have Tibet, but Nottinghamshire is beyond your reach. Anyway, as this thought passes out of my cranium, I take note that the young man has ear buds in situ, which prevent him from hearing my approach. I briefly contemplate the increasing individuality/reclusiveness that such products breed, but that is quickly replaced by the blinding fury that this gent unconsciously steps in concert with my every attempt to pass him. It turns out that simply crashing into the person speeds the process along, but the number of witness and the fact that my tires aren’t designed for such off-road/over-body expeditions generally militates against such a decision.

I slowly wheel onto campus as the massive herds of undergraduates migrate across the field below the theology building on their way to their morning classes. Nearly every morning I pause for a moment to take it all in, imagining how lethargic they must be from a night of cramming, or staying up all night to not do any work… as I imagine some students do in college. Then I picture a T-Rex crashing through the tree line, and chasing after the helpless students. He grabs them in mouthfuls. You can’t escape, freshman! Your backpack is too heavy- but you won’t drop it because your books were too expensive. That’s why you eat Ramen for every meal. I chuckle to myself as I imagine high-fiving Rex, and then I begin pedaling toward the post-graduate building. The entire experience is quite cathartic. Know that this imagined scenario does not stem from a dislike of undergraduates, so much as it does for a predilection of dinosaurs.

After a few relatively productive hours, it becomes necessary for me to venture into the town centre for a bit of shopping. It is here, while at the vegetable stand, that I begin to notice something has caused the majority of young males to abandon all vestiges of masculinity in preference for their disproportionate, skin-grabbing, movement-restricting skinny jeans. It was as though a designer said, “I know, let’s take some pantaloons and stuff them into a pair of knee-highs! The kids will go crazy over them.” The only benefit from this fad is that it has become abundantly apparent that my brother and I are now in the majority of average leg-size (if not on the larger end). Do some calf-raises, son! The rigidness of the legs runs the risk of causing widespread gastrocnemius atrophy, for the pants render the use of leg muscles unnecessary until the hip. Fathers, where have the initiation rites into manhood gone? Take your son hunting, or on a coming-of-age fishing trip. Drive him deep into bear-country, toss him a pocketknife, tell him to find his way home, and peel-out as you abandon him there in the woods. At very least take him camping and discuss with him at the fireside that it should not appear as though he has put on a diaper over pantyhose and then loaded it up. I weep for this generation. After drying my eyes, I made my way out of the shop and headed home for a trip to a nearby locale with wife and some friends.

We arrived at a place called Southwell (pronounced “Suh-thull,” which you would know if you read my British pronunciation guide), and began a walking tour through the town. The

Kindred spirits

Bethany befriending a tiny, inquisitive man

area is known for its wealthy inhabitants, mostly old ladies if the “pant-suit, gaudy hats, and high-collared shirts only” stores are any indication, and their Cathedral. We toured the building, perused the grounds- here Bethany met a kindred-spirit; a fellow gold-digger, if you will- and had a tea before the Cathedral’s evensong. Having had our fill of “Sul,” we stuffed ourselves into the car and made our way back to Beeston.

That evening, we attended a local, more contemporary church service in Nottingham. It was here that I realized that people in the UK have never gone through a phase where singing was awkward or embarrassing, so one simply mouths the words quietly in an attempt to deflect attention. So far, the congregations we have visited sing at full-tilt in a way that always surprises me. It’s refreshing when the crowd is louder than the speaker-system. At the same time, I am used to singing just barely louder than my neighbour, so this experience has raised the bar. I find myself on the verge of screaming in order to contend with these warbling Brits. The veins in my neck protrude, my head turns crimson, blood vessels in my eyes rupture, and it tends to conclude with a coughing-fit. The whispering wife, on the other hand, usually passes out from over-exertion by the first refrain. I mumble something about the Holy Spirit to our neighbours and they tend to ignore her.

During the ride home, a glance at my bike chain invoked some memories of my mother. You see, mom had the tendency to occasionally stretch the truth in situations- sometimes to protect her children, sometimes for her own entertainment. I tend to realize the elasticity of these adages as I am announcing them with confidence to another person, only to taper off at the end. Here are some of my favourites (siblings, please help me fill this out):

1. If you ride your bike barefooted or with sandals you will cut off your toes.

2. If you pick at a scab you will contract impetigo/flesh-eating bacteria.

3. All of the foam that washes up on the shore is fish spit (I unreflectingly believed this up through part of high school… all of high school ).

4. If you chew your fingernails you will get fingernail worms.

5. If you eat without washing your hands you will get worms (there were a lot of Beth-razors that resulted in worms- I miss you mom).

Low Gear Emasculation

Over the past several weeks, wife and I have been sharing a single bike as our primary means of conveyance. Now that she has a temporary position, she travels a good bit further than I on a daily basis. Having realized the time that the bike saves us, however, we deemed it necessary to purchase another cycle. I spent the day working from home so that someone would be present to receive the bike from the deliveryman. As our original bike is more masculine, we decided to purchase something with a feminine flair to accentuate the baby-producing nature of wife. Having received the package, I tore off its wrappings only to realize how lady-esque it truly is. After snorting at the bike and making derogatory comments, I began the assembly process. The bicycle came together quickly enough, but I noticed that the chain dropped whenever pedal locomotion ceased. Not wanting to void any warranty, I determined to bring our new purchase to a nearby bike repair shop. Riding as hurriedly as possible to avoid potential embarrassment and then over-explaining how the bike was not mine to the shopkeeper, I left the two-wheeled contraption in more mechanically-able hands.

I had the bike home within and hour as the fix was quick and relatively inexpensive. I left wife’s bike on the back porch and settled down with the hope of accomplishing some work (I am supposed to be working on a PhD). Having lost track of time, I realized I had only thirty minutes to pick something up from the town centre before a certain shop closed. In desperation I considered how I could possibly make it in time… then I slowly peered out the back window. The bike chimed its bell at me, bade me come to her, and said, “I have a riding lesson for you!” Devoid of other options I gave the bike another looking over, not as an inspection of functionality, but attempting to determine what I might do to detract from the overwhelming femininity of this velocipede. Wearing camouflage and smearing myself in blood seemed an act of over-compensation, not to mention the fact that it would look like I had murdered a little girl and stolen her bike. Disrobing and exhibiting my masculinity would certainly have distracted attention from the bike, but our community is small, and we run into members of our church everyday… oh, and jail- both the detention and the potential of ending up naked in a cell- these things disuaded me. I decided to swallow my pride and took off in the clothes I was wearing. I gazed at the bike below me: a soft pink and gray frame. Mind you, the gray might have detracted from the womanly quality of the cycle, had not the words “estrogen” and “cuddles” been emblazoned on the sides. Every push of the pedals caused me pain. I felt like a middle-school student hoping his friends would not notice that he was riding a girl’s bike. That is when I looked up and saw actual middle-school students walking along the side of the road, having been freshly dismissed from their classes. “How embarrassing,” I thought, but then I reminded myself, “They’re only kids, they don’t care”- if only I had not read the story of Elisha that morning I could have convinced myself. As I passed successive groups of children, I noticed that none gave me more than a glance, and no one told me to “Go up, you bald head!” My fears allayed, I reassured myself, “This is alright,” when suddenly my seat cranked backwards forcing the pointed end of the saddle into a certain area that is not made to receive pointed objects. It was as though the bike was trying to force the process of evolution so that we would fit with one another. I finally managed to make it close enough to my destination that I was able to abandon this emasculating bike (on the outskirts of the town centre) and run to the shop before it closed to retrieve several photos I had had developed. I returned to the bike and could have sworn she was laughing at me, laying their on her side. She knew I needed her to get home. Not having brought a bag, I stuffed the photo envelope inside my sweater, picked up the embarrassment, and headed home. After riding a short distance, however, the pictures shifted inside my sweater and came to rest upright on my left thigh, and, because I had set the seat for wife’s height, this resulted in the restricted movement of my legs. This meant that with every elevation of the left pedal, the pictures brushed across my left nipple, and then back across with each push. I could not stop as I was in the middle of the road, nor could I stand, as that would risk losing the pictures. So, there I was: trapped, robbed of all dignity, virtually castrated, and being molested by myself. The bike had won…