May 1, 2001
Groovy Doodads


We were wheeling our bicycles through the front door of the apartment complex last night, getting ready to take our Monday Night Ride, when an older woman rode past us on an expensive but well-worn ten-speed.

In my ignorant/insensitive youth, I might have described her as "elderly." She looked somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 or 75, give or take half a decade. But the older *I* get, the more reluctant I am to affix age-specific labels to anybody else ... especially to people who are older than I am (AND in better shape).

She wasn't riding particularly fast  --  she had more of a stately chug chug chug rhythm-thing going on  --  but she had the sure and powerful demeanor of someone who has been riding for a while.

(Longer than eleven days, anyway.)

Plus  --  and this is what really got my attention, even more than her age or her physical condition or her riding style  --  she had all kinds of groovy bike-related doodads. A shiny *Passing On Your Left* bike bell, affixed to her handlebars. An odometer. A really attractive, lightweight parka with about a bazillion pockets. Wrap-around sunglasses. A tidy little basket hanging over the rear fender, and a pair of those cool fingerless gloves, and some sort of fannypack/backpack configuration that slung around her shoulders and fit snugly against the small of her back. Plus the coolest-looking bike helmet I've ever seen: *FootNotes* Green with black and white stripes.

All the stuff that *I* want now, in other words.

"Did you see that?" I murmured to David, watching her admiringly as she rode off into the distance. But he'd been busy strapping himself into helmet and sunglasses, and he'd missed her completely. As we rode around the deserted Navy Base that evening, practicing our stops and our turns and our looking-over-our-shoulder-without-riding-into-the-ditch manuevers, I found myself thinking about that woman  --  and about all of her gadgets and toys  --  with feverish, obsessive longing.

One month ago I wouldn't have given three-tenths of a crap about fingerless riding gloves. Now they're all I can think about.

It's amazing to me how the world is suddenly FILLED with bicycles. They're everywhere I look. Right now, for example, it's my lunch hour at work, and I'm sitting in front of my window at the Totem Pole Company with a legal pad on my lap, scribbling ideas for tonight's journal entry ... and as I look out the window towards Lake Merritt, I can see dozens of bicyclists. Literally. Dozens of them, cycling endlessly around and around the lake in the lunch hour sunshine. I can see them on the street below my window, too, and on the next street over, and on the next street over from the next street over. (Although they're starting to look like ants from that distance.) I see bicyclists as we're driving to work in the morning, and again in the evening as we're heading for home. I see them when we're stopping at the grocery store, and when we're dropping our books off at the library, and when we're picking up our drycleaning at the mall. And of course I see them when we're actually out bicycling ourselves.

But more than simply seeing bicyclists everywhere ... all of a sudden I'm seeing bicycle stuff all over the place. Bike magazines on the newstands. Bike shows on TV. Bike books at the library. Bike shops on every corner.

They sell fanny-packs and water bottles at the GROCERY STORE, forcryingoutloud.

I realize that this "bicycle stuff" has been here all along, right in front of me: I just haven't paid any attention to it until now. It didn't become 'real' to me until it became real to me ... if you know what I mean.

It's the same thing with the wedding. Until we got engaged in December  --  until that diamond came to live on my left ring finger  --  you never would have caught me setting foot inside a prissy bridal shop. You wouldn't have found me reading Brides With Asparagus Magazine, or checking out library books on traditional and contemporary wedding vows, or scouring the used New Age bins at Amoeba Records looking for harp music, of all things. I would have no designer bridal-wear websites bookmarked on my computer. And it's doubtful that I would have spent more than a fraction of a *time and attention molecule* reading any Internet journal specifically devoted to the subject of wedding planning: I would have skipped right over it, the way I skip over football journals and Goth journals and journals about beekeeping or quantum mechanics or teen angst. (Unless of course it's really interesting or really well-written teen angst. Then I might appreciate it for its nostalgia value.)

We 'hear' the stuff that matters to us. The rest of it is just background noise.

The good news here  --  for those of you who like *FootNotes* but find my endless, blathering blizz-blazz about dress-shopping and invitation votes and "wedding anxiety dreams" to be totally gack-inducing  --  is that eventually it will pass. The big day will come and go, with all of its requisite fuss and flourish  ...  and then boom, just like that, it will be over. David and I will be safely and permanently married. The honeymoon will be over. The stoopid wedding countdown meter will disappear from the splash page. Life will go back to normal ... and so will *FootNotes.*  Eventually I will move on to the next annoying obsession. 

I wonder what it will be this time?? House-hunting? Menopause? Trebuchet? Cutting up old greeting cards into teeny-tiny pieces and stringing them into necklaces?

But just as some obsessions are temporary, fixed to a specific event or need or purpose in our lives ... like wedding-planning, for instance, or job-hunting, or redecorating the kitchen ... or searching for fat-free salad dressing recipes that don't taste like phlegm ... others, hopefully, pass eventually from the realm of "obsession" into everyday life.

In a year the wedding will be history.

With any luck -- and a groovy pair of fingerless riding gloves -- the bike-riding is one new obsession that's here to stay.

two years ago: how i spent my cyber vacation
one year ago: whut's the buzz?

throw a rock