Thursday, January 7, 2010

One Never Forgets


I rode a bicycle today. I haven’t been on one in years. The bicycle I rode is new, but not fancy in any way. It has no gears or hand-brakes. I think my wife said it cost eighty-nine dollars. But it does have big rugged white-walls. She gave me the bike for Christmas. Since then, I’ve been waiting for dry pavement. It rained, and then it snowed, and then there was ice, and then it rained again. The bike has fenders, so there won’t be a muddy wet stripe painted on my back, but I certainly didn’t want to ruin its appearance my first time out — unless I ruined it by being on it. It’s more likely, though, that I only rendered it comical. Some young men singing in Spanish while repairing a neighbor’s roof did stop what they were doing to watch and smile as I rode by. Or maybe I only imagined their smiles. Now that I think about it, I also imagined their singing. But I didn’t imagine them — there was no need, because they were there. Or were they? Oh, well. I’m pretty sure about the bike, anyway.

1.7.2010 #3
1.7.2010 #2
1.7.2010 #1


16 comments:

ALeks said...

Well here we do not have mercy of weather Gods cause you just can not wait in Holland to get dry day to bicycle so we do it all the time,all kinds of weather.I have one old bike,mostly repairing it myself and world never saw me gracious on it,I ride like a Tatar on a wild horse.:O)
Rain coats and everything!

vazambam said...

Now that's something I would have loved to see--a bearded gentleman peddling his white-wall bicycle--no wonder the Spanish worker singers stopped in their tracks to smile!

isabelle said...

I like to imagine you riding your bike , William.
I'm a bit worried about the no hand brakes though. Do you have to use your feet as brakes?

Your story reminded me that I haven't been on a bike for ages either, as well as remembering the time , when I was about 8 years old and tried to see how far along the road I could get , on my bike, with eyes closed tight.

I still have a scar on my chin like a slice of the moon.

Elisabeth said...

Good for you, William and good on your wife for encouraging you with such a gift.

A few years ago when my daughter was younger, we bought each of us a bike and went out riding together.

I was amazed at how frightening it seemed this time around. I had not ridden a bike since I was a child.

I could ride again alright but the fall to the ground seemed so much more likely this time around.

I could almost imagine my bones cracking on the pavement.

In the end I mastered the bike and riding again as you will too and two years ago I managed to ride through the streets of Haarlem in Holland in search of my grandparents' old homes.

William Michaelian said...

Aleksandra, what a great picture! People here also ride in the rain. That way they can get wetter faster farther....

Vassilis, which half of my beard would you most like to see? The one over my left shoulder or my right?

Isabelle, someday we can compare scars. I have one under my eye from when I was twelve and ran into a barbed wire fence — on foot! As for brakes, a little backward pressure on the pedal is all it takes, especially at the speed I was going.

Elisabeth, When I was growing up on the farm, I used to ride miles and miles through the countryside on my brothers’ old three-speed, which by the time I inherited it, according to the odometer, had gone 3,000 miles. The trick was knowing where the meanest dogs lived, resting in between, and working up a head of steam to get by them without being mauled. And if that failed, a well-timed kick would keep their teeth out of my leg. I love your Haarlem scene. May our bones remain intact a good while longer.

Joseph Hutchison said...

This tender, funny piece reminds me of my brother-in-law's acquisition a few years back of a bike just like yours. He's a retired cowboy with a dozen or so busted bones (a two or three stories to go with each one), but when he rides that classic bike in the park across from his house he looks relaxed and somehow "in the zone." I think he's actually traveling streets from his childhood when he rides, which is why people he passes smile like your Spanish roofers--who I'm sure were there, and singing.

Momo Luna said...

First of all my best wishes for 2010! Such a lovely, funny story. As ALeks already wrote; Holland is a bike land. In the city you ride on a bike, rain, snow or not. I loved to ride mine, after finishing work, riding home, the wind in my hair, i always was singing. Because of my muscle disease i can't ride a bike anymore and i miss it. (not the rainy days though lol) May 2010 bring you lots of enjoyable rides on your bike William. I wish i could see you on your bike. :-)

William Michaelian said...

Monica, I wish I could see me too. I’m not very good with a camera, but I would like to take a picture called Self-Portrait on Bike. But I don’t think my arms are long enough.... I would also like to ride my bike to Holland. Please send directions. I should be there in time to wish you a Happy New Year for 2011.

Joe, there are three flies in the kitchen. Which is the cowboy? The one on the range.

(Dead silence.)

awyn said...

Mine's in storage for the winter and I miss it terribly (though some people here continue riding despite 3 feet of snow and icy roads). I went my entire adult life without a car, except for 9 months, when the clunky old beast gave up the ghost. But you don't need a camera, William! You can sketch it, like the faces. Just add arms and legs, put him on the seat, and point him to the road! :)

William Michaelian said...

Annie, I used to be quite good at riding with no hands. So maybe I can draw as I go. As for the snow, I never was good at putting chains on bike tires....

Joseph Hutchison said...

Hey, William! My silences are never "dead." I'm just cultivating imperturbability...

Actually, I laughed when I read your joke. It's the kind of joke I tell. Evidently you get the same kinds of reaction I get. As in...

Q: How many surrealists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A: Fish.

See what I mean?

William Michaelian said...

Oh, yes, we’re on the “same page,” all right.

I think I might have mentioned this to you before, but have you seen the spin on the old “Why did the chicken cross the road?” adage? Here are a few, and there are more on this page:

Emily Dickinson: Because it could not stop for death.

Ralph Waldo Emerson: It didn’t cross the road; it transcended it.

Ernest Hemingway: To die. In the rain.

Mark Twain: The news of its crossing has been greatly exaggerated.

Salvador Dali: The Fish.

Timothy Leary: Because that’s the only kind of trip the Establishment would let it take.

~im just only me~ said...
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~im just only me~ said...

Hilarious jokes all around! The Koala Tea of Mercy is not strained, isn't that right, Joseph?... perhaps I'm a nerd for finding puns great fun -- but no one loves words anymore! Have you ever run across the O. Henry Pun Off?
As for the *brakes* on your bike, William: the ol' pedal *brake* is so much better for drifting around corners on dirt and gravel roads ;) ...

William Michaelian said...

Dryden is quoted on the Pun Off’s Wikipedia page as saying puns are “the lowest and most groveling kind of wit.” So we must be doing something right.

~im just only me~ said...

Haha -- something I say all too often when people correct me concerning a participle at the end of a sentence: "Screw Dryden! He was just a pompous ass...". Of course they generally have no idea what I'm talking about. It would probably be more affective to quote Churchill “The rule which forbids ending a sentence with a preposition is the kind of nonsense up with which I will not put", but I can never remember it exactly! And yes, I had to google that... but that is a whole other topic... :)