Saturday, June 12, 2010

Festival of Smug

Biking in the rain provides many surprises, especially when one is loath to check the meteorologists' predictions for the day. Needing to venture to West Hartford Center to do some banking, I opted to leave the house on the early side. There is an immeasurably unpleasant one-block stretch of Capitol Avenue that is most tolerable when the sphincteral drivers veering toward the I-84 onramp are at an absolute minimum. My timing was excellent and I arrived in the WH Center/ Blue Back Square area with nary a bead of sweat. What's more, I learned that it was the annual Celebrate! West Hartford Festival – which I had always avoided like the plague in the past, only partially because the sloganeers are punctuationally impaired. By the way, I have an amazing track record for avoiding the plague. But this time, on bike, I smugly and gleefully zoomed past the orgy of SUVs and minivans, all bedecked with that annoying WH smiley-face bumpersticker. Sometimes I like to rub wounds with salt. Big chunks of kosher salt. I rode in the middle of Raymond Road and made the traffic worse. This is not something I would do normally, but hell, the whole point, I thought, of a town center is for peeps to mingle. I had a choice spot on the REI bike rack. When I returned to it later, there were loads of other bikes on it. Quite pleasin' to the eye.

After taking care of the necessary errands, I decided to wander through the festivities to see what all the fuss was about. The arts and crafts were surprisingly non-kitschy (as a whole), so I added two photographs to my collection. I was hoping to find a gangsta Star of David belt buckle, but nobody had those. Maybe I need to have a booth next year.

Around this point, I realized how massive an event this was. They had all manner of adorable animals to get bitten by, and trust me, it's an honor to get nipped by a llama. Rides, food, a women's chorus, every bank in creation trying to expand business...impressive. The West Hartford cops were raffling off a “kids bike” which was basically the standard bike that adults in the aluminum returning business ride in Hartford, except that the one they were raffling was new, pretty, and not coated with a layer of beer residue.

Something terribly frightening is realizing that one is lost in Blue Back Square. Once in the middle of all the vendor booths and rides, I could not see a way out. I am forever in debt to the girl pushing the Park Road Playhouse for pointing me in the right direction. Meandered to REI. You are all on notice. Next time I say “REI,” just jack me up and take my debit card away. I don't know what happened, except that I definitely will need to show up for work every day next week to rectify the situation. Around my birthday, I justify a lot of things by saying that “nobody ever remembers my birthday, so I'll just get myself things I like.” On the plus side, three of the four items are completely practical, and the other item is brainfood. I've done worse.

Not planning to purchase every last thing that was not bolted down in West Hartford, it took me awhile to properly load my bicycle. Two minutes into my trip home, it began to rain. No rain gear, no lights, a new book, and two new pieces of art. Nothing much to do about it, so I just pedaled at normal speed and made sure that drivers didn't yank out in front of me. Only had to give the finger once, which is not bad. Lady Gaga needs to learn that the middle finger is a magical sign that should be used only when absolutely necessary. When at baseball games, you give the finger to an umpire who makes a lousy call. Not to everyone who looks in your general direction. The Lady is no Madonna, that's for sure.

As I got closer to home, other cyclists – equally unprepared for the downpour – were giving me the whole “what's up” thing, but had the good sense to compliment Jenny so as not to seem overly skeevy. It was only upon arriving home that I learned that the rain storm had rendered my shirt completely transparent. Awesome.

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