Sunday, August 5, 2007

My father and brother are both little bike-monsters. They bike to far
away states, to work, and in my brother's case, for work. As a kid, I
really liked to bike. Really, really liked it. First, I had a blue
bike, and I didn't even need the training wheels on it for ten minutes
I was such a natural. Then, I got a flashy black 21-speed BMX bike
with gold spokes which was the envy of the kids in my apartment
complex, and finally, when I got to a semi-adult size, a red 18-speed
cruiser. I rode it about twice, and I've barely ridden since.

See, I was getting too old to just pedal around the park; I wanted to
use it to get places, and take it on trips and so on, but I was
absolutely (and rightly) forbidden from going helmetless on any street
on which cars ever even thought about going. I HATED wearing a
helmet. They looked ridiculous and I could not bear the thought of
being glimpsed in one. They were also sweaty and the chin strap
chafed, but this was really not a concern, the problem was that maybe
one of the many thirteen year old boys who might become totally
smitten upon seeing me biking, my braids flying in the wind, the
lovely top of my head exposed, would instead see me in a helmet and
barf all over themselves. I was so self-conscious about helmets that
wearing one took all the joy out of riding for me - I could not feel
the wind, though the wind was there, or sense the speed though I still
went fast or hear the hum of tires on asphalt though; I was consumed
by imagined mockery. Gender! Awesome! So my brother went on to be a
bike monster, and I got a cigarette habit (now defunct.)

Now that I'm a)old enough to not be quite so totally self-conscious
and b)old enough that my parents cannot tell me what to do, I've taken
up riding again. My dad's passed me a pretty old yellow single-speed,
and I've put a willow basket on it, for gamine-ing purposes, and I've
ordered a helmet. It's light blue, and close-fitting and round like a
skateboarding helmet or a Kaiser Wilhelm helmet. I showed a picture
to Hazzard.

"Huh," he said. "It's kind of a Mongo helmet, yeah?" Then he lowered
his head, made a sort of bleating noise, and rushed at the wall,
stopping just before he hit it to look up at me for approval.

And so the work of years of therapy is undone.

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