January 15, 2003
No Butts About It

ytd: 53.96 [4.5 on Saturday]

"It looks like you've been bike-riding this morning," says the young hostess. And she casts a discreetly dubious eye at the two overweight/middle-aged/Spandex-clad people standing in the lobby of her ultra-snooty restaurant.

"Sort of," says David affably. "Until we got lost, anyway."

The hostess smiles -- one of those pinched, polite, all-teeth/zero-sincerity smiles that says I'm smiling at you because I'm being paid to smile at you (and if it were up to *me,* you'd both be on your way to Fashion Jail, right now) -- and she plucks two oversized menus from behind her podium. "This way," she says. We dutifully follow along behind her, down the steps and across the cavernous main dining area -- tracking mud on the polished hardwood floors, as we go -- until we eventually come to a postage-stamp-sized table, tucked away in the deepest darkest recesses of the restaurant, next to the service elevator. (Any farther away from the entrance, in fact, and we would probably require our own Zip Code.) As we parade through the restaurant, I feel the heat of a hundred pairs of eyes watching our every move.

They're all looking at your butt, says the little voice of Low Self Esteem in my head.

I hate wearing my bike clothes in public. On the bike trail, I feel perfectly comfortable in clown colors, uniboob sports bras, muddy shoes, unforgiving Spandex. But anywhere else -- the grocery store, the library, my mother-in-law's kitchen, a snooty Los Gatos restaurant -- it's quite another story. I'm especially sensitive about my butt. Ever since we rode those two thousand miles last year, there seems to be a whole lot more of it than there was before ... and sheathed in skin-tight bike shorts, that "whole lot more of it" is prominently on display.

"I think we're under-dressed," I whisper, as soon as the hostess is safely out of earshot.

But David seems completely unconcerned. "Look around you," he says, leaning back in his chair and opening his menu. He still has a smear of last week's mud on the front of his Buttercup Yellow jacket, and his new bike jersey is riding up past his belly button again. "Do you see anybody here who can ride two thousand miles?" he asks. 

I take a quick sneaky glance around the restaurant. Mostly the place seems to be filled with elegantly-dressed/extravagantly-coiffed seniors with ample bank accounts ... and ampler waistlines.

He's got a point. But just the same,  I'm keeping my jacket on.

Moments later, a sullen busboy appears at our table. Without looking at either one of us, he places ice water on the table -- whisking away our overturned wine glasses without comment -- and then expertly dribbles olive oil and balsamic vinegar onto our bread plates, before plunking a basket of foccacia bread onto the middle of the table. "Your server will be with you in a moment," he mumbles, when he's finished dribbling and whisking and plunking. And he vanishes with the same bloodless efficiency as the hostess.

Good thing he can't see that butt of yours, says the little voice. You'd probably have olive oil and balsamic vinegar in your lap, right about now.

While we look through the menu, David and I discuss what went wrong -- and what went right -- with today's ride. "I can't believe we only rode four miles," I moan. After last year's 2,002 in 2002, I am so conditioned to focusing on the accumulation of mileage mileage mileage, every time we ride, that it's hard not to view today's puny four-miler as a failure.

But David doesn't see it that way at all.

"Think of these January rides as a 'preview of coming attractions,' " he says cheerfully. We've been on three new rides so far this year: the Calaveras Road on New Years Day (six miles' worth of relentless uphill), the California Aquaduct (otherwise known as "The Mud Ride") last weekend and today's abortive attempt to ride the Los Gatos foothills. None of the rides have been particularly noteworthy. Two of them have been downright disastrous. All of them, according to David, were merely warm-up for all of the Incredibly Interesting Rides we're going to be taking in 2003. In fact, that's our theme for 2003: The Year of the Incredibly Interesting Rides.

"Later this year," he says, "we'll come back and try them all again."

When our waitress finally arrives to take our order, she is markedly friendlier than either the hostess or the busboy were. Like the snooty young hostess, she asks if we've been riding: unlike the snooty young hostess, she actually seems interested in David's response. Our plan, he tells her, was to ride the Los Gatos foothills, ending up eventually somewhere near the Lexington Reservoir. This is a route David used to ride in the early 90's, and he remembers it fondly. But that was ten years ago, and the directions in our new South Bay trailbook were confusing, and we could never seem to connect to the roads we needed. After an hour and a half of wandering around lost -- most of it spent on unpleasant residential uphills, while burly young landscapers laughed and blew cigarette smoke at us -- we finally said "Screw it" and decided to go get some lunch.

"And here we are!" David says to the waitress.

"And here you are!" she replies pleasantly. She takes our orders -- walnut and bleu cheese salads, Cambozola cheeseburgers layered with applewood-smoked bacon, iced tea for David, Pepsi for me -- and she disappears in the direction of the kitchen. I'm feeling marginally better, now that we're off our feet and our food is on the way. Plus I'm seated with my back to the dining room, so I don't have to actually see the horrified expressions on the faces of my fellow restaurant patrons as they're forced to gaze at my enormous Spandexed butt.

"You've really got to get over this," David says, not unkindly. "You look just fine."

Lunch is long, leisurely ... and delicious. We're nearly finished with our meal -- David is finishing off the last few bites of my Cambozola burger -- when the snooty young restaurant hostess suddenly reappears with a new customer in tow: a lone middle-aged woman dressed in a crushed velvet jogging suit, spike heels and more jewelry than P. Diddy. She's carrying a cell phone in one hand and a Day-Timer the size of a San Francisco phone book in the other hand.

"I hope this will be OK," says the snooty young hostess, indicating the postage-stamp-sized table right next to ours. "It's the only thing we've got available right now."

The woman is clearly not happy. I'm not sure which offends her more: the substandard table she is being offered, or the people sitting at the substandard table next to her substandard table. Either way, she's pissed off. She plunks herself into her chair, all huffy and self-righteous -- we're seated so close to each other, I can smell the toothpaste on her breath -- and she immediately starts punching numbers into her cell phone with murderous fury. As she's dialing, she looks at me -- at my messy hair and my muddy bike clothes and the dirt under my fingernails and the leftover french fries on my plate ...

... and she sniffs.

I swear to god, she SNIFFS, like she's Mrs. Thurston Fudking Howell III, and David and I are the muddy riffraff she's forced to share a lifeboat with. I may have been imagining the hostess and the busboy and the hundred pairs of disapproving eyes in the main dining room behind me, but I'm definitely not imagining this. If I weren't feeling so well-fed and mellow, right at this moment, I would probably throw one of my eleven-dollar french fries at her overly-Botoxed face. As it is, I manage to ignore her poisonous looks and her snippy cell phone conversation for the final fifteen minutes of the meal ... until the plates are cleared, until dessert has been offered and refused, until the bill has been paid and the tip negotiated. Then I rise from my chair, making an elaborate show of zipping up my jacket and smoothing my hair, and I stand for a moment with my back to the woman. I'm standing so close to her, I swear I can feel her breath on my butt.

"Wait a minute, Honey," I say to David. "I think I've dropped one of my bike gloves."

And then I bend over.

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