My bike was stolen yesterday. The Rusty Nail was a gift, a garage sale hulk that weighed a zillion pounds. I bought two new tires for $50, a new seat for $90. I’m not sure what I spent on a pump and a red and orange safety light with three settings. The halogen headlight with three settings was also a gift.
After I wrote the above paragraph, I researched prices online. If I only paid $50 for two new tires and tubes, then that was the deal of a lifetime. At the same time, I couldn’t find a bike seat that looked like mine at $90.
Maybe that’s how memory lies, $50 a way of saying the tires were cheaper than I thought they’d be, $90 saying that I spared no expense on a seat that would keep the blood flowing to my penis. Then next time I buy tires and they turn out to be $40 a pop, I’ll be like, “Fuck, these are way over-priced.” My next $65-dollar bike seat will be like, “Wow, what a bargain.” As David Mitchell's Ogawa Uzaemon observes in The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, “Memory is tricks and strangeness.”
Anyway, a ballpark of the bike’s worth is $192. What it’s saved in gas and burned in calories over the last two years, I don’t have the inclination to measure or guess. I’m sure it’s impressive.
I’ve been airport run-man lately, taking Becky to the airport and keeping her car while she was out of town, taking Akimbo to the airport and keeping her car while she was out of town. With all this motorized transportation at my disposal, the loss of the bike hasn’t really hit me.
I've missed the ride from my old place, nice and long so I had plenty of time to think my thinks. Walking to work once and a while has been my replacement. Walking to work because I have no choice makes me question my whole existence.
Before I rant, I want to make it clear that I have options. Friends have proven more than willing to chauffeur me around. Friends have also offered indefinite loans of brand-new bikes and gifts of old bikes. But it’s been a shit walk home and I’d like to vent, you got a problem with that?
Wet from the constant drizzle, covered in spiderwebs from industrious arachnid workers who string the sidewalks from bush to tree (and taking refuge inside passing umbrellas), dodging oblivious drivers who pay more attention to their cell phones than pedestrians at the ends of their driveways or near stop signs, wet ground stealing my flip-flops every tenth step because Old Navy decided to do some weird wavy shit with their cheap flops this year which creates suction more than cushioning, this has not been the most pleasant forty minutes of my life.
Picture me in the dark, standing on the sidewalk in the drizzling rain, staring into these palatial Coral Gables homes. Am I so unworthy? Have I lived my life so poorly? It’s getting to the point where I want to walk up to the biggest house I pass, knock on the door, ask the owner what they do for a living, and start doing that- be it biomechanical engineering or high-yield bond speculation, drug dealing or white slavery, corporate law or political lobbying.
I’ve always been an A student, excepting a few partying semesters of college. I could live in my sister’s attic, attend Syracuse University for free, and see what the job market is like when I’m forty-five.
Normally I tell myself how young thirty-seven is in a literary career, how all my life I’ve been a late bloomer, and I sleep the sleep of the hopeful.
Brushing webbing out of my hair when I get home from work makes it a tougher sell.