It was the discussion of banana portaging that grabbed my attention while reading Bike Snob NYC yesterday, but the part of his post that had real staying power was something I had basically buried in my brain as I read it. At night, I went to some semi-glitzy, social networking event, and yeah, I rode my bicycle there. I hadn't ridden in a few months and was tired of that, plus, this event always creates a traffic jam and I have has much patience for sitting in traffic as I do for incompetence in the workplace.
Before even leaving the house, I was hearing how basically I was crazy for riding my bicycle when it was this cold outside. I'm not going to sugarcoat it. I've ridden in more pleasant weather, but I have been regularly walking to work, and the cold has bothered me far less than the impending doom promised by uncleared sidewalks. There were days when I would have worried less about such things, but I have a mortgage and no health insurance; I am constantly calculating how much a slip would cost me should I have to go to the emergency room for a broken bone. It's exhausting to feel so much contempt for fellow earthlings who are both too lazy and immature to take care of their shit.
Anyway, what I learned on the route there was that Starry Bike, for the most part, can deal just fine with ice. While I was a bit out of shape and winded, the trip didn't take very long -- much less than it would've if I walked and less than if I drove -- and I never got too cold. I was able to lock up at a bike rack (thanks to Tony for the tip), use a locker inside where to stash helmets and unsexy accessories, and enjoy a child-free event. It's not that I don't like some children. It's just that there is a certain pleasure to be had in cussing up a storm in a space that is usually lousy with youths.
When they turned off the lights and kicked us all out to the curb, it took us awhile to get our bikes unlocked. People were streaming by and some drunk (I'm hoping drunk, because otherwise he is just an ass) guy is all like "Oh my God! She's gonna ride a bike." Now, my response was a passive aggressive comment to Interstatement about how people stupidly don't understand the way sound actually travels, and people who are being talked about can hear the conversation too. In younger days, I would've just gotten up in his face for that spewing of dumb.
That's when it clicked. I remembered a key part from the Bike Snob NYC post:
One of my favorite aspects of any bicycling-themed news report is always the reporter's total incredulity that someone actually rides a bicycle. Note her inflection when she says the following at 44 seconds:
His bikes have more miles than his car!
I love how she says it as though that's the epitome of insanity, in exactly the same way she'd say something like: "He keeps an incredibly rare Fahaka puffer fish in his toilet!"
The intonation of the comment was absolute incredulity. That's the perfect word. If I said I was going to birth eight babies at once without a partner, he may have been less amazed. Out-of-control breeding is more normalized than using self-powered transportation.
This is not the first time I encountered this incredulity.
Months ago, I wrote about (but never published) an account of an unfortunate exchange between some Audi-driving moron and myself. I found myself at an event that had jumped the shark so long ago that simply calling it "tired" will suffice for description. I was jubilant to get the hell out of there but had to fumble with two locks first.
Meanwhile, this uncreative, blonde-haired pustule was standing nearby, trying to get my attention. Imagine his lines slurred:
Audi: Hey Dorothy! Dorothy!
I had gotten the locks off, attached the back light, and had to rig up the headlight. Since there is no proper way to attach the light on the Jenny, this was taking awhile. At some point, I made the mistake of turning around and making eye contact.
Audi: Excuse me?
Me: Yes? [read that with rudeness and annoyance in tone]
Audi: Let me just tell you two things.
Me: *rolls eyes* What?
Audi: That is an amazing dress. Are you going to put that basket on the bike?
It should be mentioned that the basket had already been affixed to the bicycle. Three beers fewer and he might have noticed this.
Audi: Where did you get your basket?
Me: My BOYFRIEND gave it for me, so I don't know where HE got it.
I hate having to do that, but my memories of being a pugnacious youth taunt me and I don't want to wind up with a public defender for kicking some deserving brat in the shins.
At this point another woman walks by to retrieve her bike. He begins to annoy her.
Audi: Hey, how come you don't wear heels and a dress like her?
The woman mumbles something back and quickly maneuvers her bike out of there. The jerkwad turns back to me.
Audi: How're you gonna get home? You're gonna have a tough time riding home in the dress and heels? How're you gonna ride side saddle?
Me: I fucking got here didn't I? I rode here wearing the same thing I'm leaving in.
Still futzing with the light, I gave up and rolled it somewhere away from Audi Guy so that I could attach the light in peace.
This incredulity, as described here, can be rude, but sometimes it's more innocent. Whatever the case, I don't get it. How do these people control themselves when they see something truly amazing? Do they awegasm at the sight of a bear riding a tricycle or while watching a child get born? Do their brains explode on spot at the sight of a Tiffany's diamond display case? I can't even imagine what it must be like to be so simple-minded.