January 15, 2016 § 41 Comments
I went to a beer-and-biker event last night at Strand Brewing Co., where I was joined by some of my friends from Team Lizard Collectors. They drank beer while I ate tacos and gazed longingly at their frothy hops.
But before they arrived I got there early. I get places early usually. You can sometimes get in trouble arriving early, but pretty much always get in trouble coming late.
At one of the tables was my buddy Joel Elliott. That’s not his real name, so don’t Google “Joel Elliott, Strand Brewing Co.” because it’s just a pseudonym.
He was sitting at the table with his wife, his wife’s friend, and five little kids. The kids were all well behaved, quietly playing UNO, chewing with their mouths closed, and waiting until being spoken to before speaking.
I sat down and Joel introduced me to the kids as “Mr. Davidson.” You know how much kids like being introduced to “Mr.” anything? Kind of like they enjoy the phrases “time for bed” and “I’m telling your father when he gets home.”
But these kids were all well bred and made the briefest of eye contact before resuming their kid lives. I waited a couple of seconds. “All right, kids, listen up!” I said in my most authoritative voice. They all looked up.
“Now you don’t know me, but I’m a liar. The biggest liar you ever met. I’m 52 years old and I’ve been lying since the day I was born. I also have bad manners, chew with my mouth open, and like to spit.”
The littlest punkin gazed up. “How big a liar are you?” she asked.
“I’m a bigger liar than all the other liars in the world combined. I once told my principal, Mr. Smudgy Pigeonpants, that if he spanked me again my leg would fall off.”
“Smudgy Pigeonpants?” they cackled.
“Yes, and his assistant, Poopy Stinkyfeet, I lied to her too.”
“Poopy Stinkyfeet?” said one of the boys. “That’s not a real name.”
“Sure it is,” I said. “Are you calling me a liar?”
“YES!!” they all chimed in unison.
“If you’d called me a liar yesterday that would have been true, but after this morning I decided to quit lying and only tell the truth. I haven’t told a single lie today and don’t intend to.”
“But you just lied about that Stinkypants and Pigeonfeet stuff!” said one of the girls.
“Those lies didn’t count,” I said. “They were assistant lies.”
“What’s an assistant lie?” asked a boy.
“It’s a lie you tell to help you get to the truth. Now, then, go ahead and ask me anything and I swear on a stack of dead cricket abdomens that I’ll tell the truth.”
“What’s an abdomen?” asked the littlest girl.
“It’s like a stomach except on a cockroach,” said one of the boys.
“How old are you?” asked the littlest girl.
“437,” I piously intoned.
“LIAR!!” they all yelled, bits of food falling onto the floor and a general mess of the card game being made. One of the boys spilled some cold water on my feet.
“Okay,” I said, “I was lying about that but I won’t lie anymore, I promise. I learned to stop lying in prison.”
“You’ve been to prison?” the biggest boy asked.
“Oh, sure. Everyone in my family has.”
“Are you lying again?” asked the other boy, who had become something of a skeptic in a rather short period of time.
“What were you in prison for?”
“Killing people,” I said. “Forty of them. All at once. With a spitball cannon to the big toe.”
“LIAR!” they all roared.
“Nope,” I said. “I’ve got the prison tattoo on my left arm to prove it. It says ‘Corcoran State Prison for Spitball Murder, #20182718101838540582Azidy283521.'”
“On your arm?” asked the skeptic.
“Show it to us.”
I was wearing a hoodie, a long sleeve sweater, and a long sleeve t-shirt. “Roll up my sleeve and see for yourself.”
They all pounced on my arm, knocking a taco off the table, smearing some salsa with the UNO cards, and making a general mess. They got the 12 sleeves of Christmas rolled halfway up. “There’s no tattoo!” shrieked the oldest girl, triumphantly.
“Sure there is,” I said. “It’s on the other arm.”
“LIAR!” they roared and attacked my other sleeve.
“There’s no tattoo here, either!” proclaimed the skeptic.
“You didn’t roll it up far enough,” I said.
They all turned to with great energy and violence, but there was only so far they could roll up the bundle of sleeves. Finally the littlest girl jammed her hand up the inside of my bicep. “I can’t feel any tattoo!”
“Oh, no!” I said. “Now you’ve got stinky hand!”
She sniffed her fingers. “Yuck!”
“That will never wash off,” I said, sadly.
“LIAR!” they all said.
“What’s your name?” I asked the biggest girl.
“Cassidy,” she said.
“That’s an incredible coincidence!” I shouted excitedly.
“What’s a coincidence?” asked the littlest girl.
“It’s when a bunch of things happen wrong at the same time,” said the biggest boy.
“How come it’s a coincidence?” asked Cassidy.
“Because my daughter’s name is Cassidy, too!”
“LIAR!” they all shouted.
“No, really, this time I swear I’m telling the truth. Her name is Cassidy except we spell it with an ‘a’ instead of an ‘i’ but we pronounce it the same.”
“I swear on a stack of old cockroach droppings that I’m telling the truth, really.”
“I extra promise!”
I looked at the littlest girl, who had wedged her way under my left arm and who was perched cozily against my hoodie while sitting on my leg. “You don’t think I’m lying, do you?”
She smiled sadly. “You’re a big liar but you’re a nice liar,” she said.
“If that’s your daughter’s name call her up and let us ask her what her name is!” said the skeptic.
“Call her up! Call her up! Call her up!” they all shouted.
“Well, okay,” I said. I slowly took out my phone and, hiding the screen, dialed my daughter on speakerphone.
“Hello?” she answered.
A cacophony of little kid voices screamed, “What’s your name?”
My 27-year-old daughter, who grew up with a rather odd father, wasn’t the least bit surprised to be receiving a phone call from what sounded like half a dozen screaming kids demanding to know her name.
“Cassady,” she said. “Who is this?”
Dead silence. The kids looked at me in awe.
“Thanks, honey,” I said into the speakerphone, and hung up.
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December 12, 2015 § 32 Comments
A buddy came by to help me drown my recovery sorrows in cookies and ice cream, and talk eventually turned, as all conversations about Cycling in the South Bay eventually to, to Certain Friend.
“You know,” he said, “Certain Friend was one of a kind.”
“Yes, he was.”
“Certain Friend was the only guy with whom you could be riding, or a couple of times it happened walking down the street, and someone would just appear from nowhere, a stranger, and start screaming at Certain Friend.”
“Those tales are epic.”
“They’d totally go off on him. ‘You are a complete asshole!’ and ‘I know you, you are the biggest jerk!’ And you know what was amazing? Certain Friend never even knew who they were.”
“He’d offended and insulted so many people that the South Bay was literally teeming with enemies, the vast majority of whom he’d only vaguely known and completely forgotten.”
“Certain Friend was a legend.”
“One of a kind. Certain Friend made people hate his fucking guts just by opening his mouth. And you know what?”
“We have fewer and fewer one of a kind characters like Certain Friend. Things have gotten more homogenized. Polite. No one wants to offend. Certain Friend had ‘IDGAF’ on his birth certificate. I miss that dude.”
I kind of agreed. “Yeah, I do, too. But he really was an asshole.”
The next day I went to my first physical therapy session. For three weeks now my recovery regimen has been this:
- Lie in bed.
- Sit in desk chair.
- Sit on couch.
- Sit at dinner table.
- Lie in bed.
Casey, my buddy the PT who runs Independent Physical Therapy just around the corner, helped me onto the bed. He’s a super guy and a great physical therapist. He started to check my range of whimpering. “How does this feel?”
“Ouch!” I snorted.
“But I’m not touching anything yet.”
“I’m a big believer in prophylactic whimpering.”
After doing a thorough once-over to make sure my ROW was sufficient to allow me to pedal, I got on the recumbent bike.
I pedaled slowly, expecting shooting pains in my leg. There were none. I pedaled a little faster. Nothing but the stretching of muscles and tendons and ligaments that had shrunken up like dry rubber bands. Then I felt blood rushing into my legs. It was the most amazing and beautiful feeling I’ve ever had.
After an hour I went home. I’d been invited to a party that evening but had decided not to go unless my leg felt really good, which it did. This would be the fifth time I’d been outdoors in the last three weeks.
I got to the party and immediately began talking with my friends. Everyone was super kind and solicitous and I got to give the organ recital over from scratch each time someone asked how I was doing. No one seemed bored, and I loved wallowing in my own trough of stoic-but-pitiful-but-on-the-mend-but-in-pain-and-yes-thanks-I’ll-have-another-slice-of-pie.
The time flew. And then, just as I’d texted Mrs. WM to come pick me up, a woman walked up to me, scowling and mad.
“I know you,” she snapped. “You’re the blogger.”
I was seated with a cracked pelvis, my crutches were out of reach, I didn’t carry a concealed weapon, and this clearly wasn’t going to be good. “Yes?” I said.
“Well, I’ve read your stuff and you know what?”
“You’re an ARROGANT ASSHOLE! That’s right, you’re an asshole. A big, ugly, stupid, blathering, rude, arrogant asshole. And I want you to know that.” Then she crossed her arms defiantly and awaited my reply.
I glanced over at the crutches and wondered how far I could get before she tripped me and pushed me down the stairs.
“Thanks,” I said, “and Merry Christmas to you, too.”
Ms. WM picked me up curbside a few minutes later. “How was the party?”
“I learned something about myself.”
“Yep. I’m one of a kind.”
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December 7, 2015 § 23 Comments
This blog is hosted on WordPress, which has some pretty cool features. One of my favorites is the “search term” function.
This keeps a record of every search term that has been used to guide people here, and how many times that term was used. As a tech savvy blogger I’m supposed to use this information to optimize SEO and once I find out what that is, I will. In the meantime I use it for humor.
There has a been a clear trend towards “cleaning up potty mouth” here at CitSB. The search term lists for 2011-2013 were so vile and nasty that I decided not to post them, although they were off-the-hook funny.
To think that you could type in “jock sniffer cycling wanker” and get to my blog is, well, awesome, and trust me when I say that’s super G-rated compared to some of the other search terms.
Click here to see the the PDF of 2015_search_terms, all 11,814 of them, that people used to get here in 2015. I bet you laugh. My personal favorites are #519, #571, #700, #779, and of course #838.
For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog. Or you can type in a random curse word on Google and chances are good you’ll wind up here anyway. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!
December 6, 2015 § 19 Comments
Dear Baby Seal and Surfer Dan:
I’m still in a state of shock to hear that you, Baby Seal, have swum off to join a different pack of pinnipeds. And I’m still in shock that you, Surfer Dan, have caught the La Grunge wave and taken the innocent, young, and as-yet-unwise-to-the-ways-of-the-world Baby Seal with you.
How could you?
I thought we were a team, and there is no “I” in team, although if you rearrange the letters there’s a “meat,” “mate,” “tame,” “eat,” “met,” and “meta,” to name a few. But you guys can be frank with me. What was it that made you leave Team Big Orange Lizard Club for Velo Club La Grunge?
Don’t tell me it was their dirty little bribe of free tires and race reimbursements. You got that from us, not to mention our sweet bike deals and the new Crash Fund Replacement Program, which will add up to big savings for you two bicycle falling off veterans. That turn on the bike path isn’t called Cobley Corner for nothing.
And don’t tell me it was our ugly bicycle outfits. Sure, word on the street has it that we are the ugliest. Period. No one even close. But it’s always been that way. Just because 2016 is ushering in a new combo of Calvin Wearing Hobbes, not to mention the ‘cross kit Vomit Specials, that can’t be the motivation.
The Big O Lizard Club has always prided itself on having the ugliest kits in America, outside of the ones designed for the 1008 Poot’n Parkway Century, where the promoter had his 13-year-old kid design the jerseys in Photoshop. And lest we forget, La Grunge used to have those green Herbalife kits, and the red slashed/polka dotted ones, yeah, we haven’t forgotten, not to mention a host of other ugly outfits that were cringeworthy even after a case of good beer.
So what’s changed?
Don’t tell me you got your panties askew because of team sponsor Brad House and Back on Track Productions. Sure, he’s been vocal on Facegag about gun rights and one of his race co-sponsors last year was a crazy gun organization. But you’ve known that about him for years.
I don’t know why you’re trying to spare my feelings. But Baby Seal, you’re a SUBSCRIBER. $2.99 a month. How could you? Don’t you remember the time that I was taking off my jacket on NPR at the light at the alley and it was raining like crazy and everyone rode away and YOU stayed back for me?
Then you towed me at 29 mph into a cross wind all the way down Vista del Mar and up Pershing to where we were 300 yards from the group, and I sprinted around you, bridged, dropped you, and left you to ride the rest of the way by yourself in the rain? Have you forgotten that?
Or the time that we were in a 2-man NPR breakaway and I gave you the win? I, who don’t even give money to Bernie Sanders or Planned Parenthood? I, who wouldn’t push a struggling teammate six inches to help him stay on? I, who would gladly slit my grandmother’s throat for the chance to have an option at possibly being in the mix for a water bottle prime?
Oh, and that is THE ONLY TIME YOU’VE WON THE NPR. And now you’re leaving Team Lizard Collectors and going over to the smooth and supple and well-kitted arch enemy? Why, Baby Seal, why? Are their Cannondales really that much better?
But you, Surfer Dan, who aren’t even a subscriber for $2.99 a month, you! How could you?
If there was one rider who personified Team Lizard Collectors, it was you. Always ready to help. Always ready to put together a five-year training plan for a new Cat 5. Always the first one to clear the last bits of rubble off the chafing trays at the club’s year-end party. Always the first one to show up and eat all the food in my fridge.
But that’s meaningless. Have you forgotten who made you who you are? Others may have forgotten the creaky Look bike, the goofy pedal stroke, and the goofier smile that first appeared in the South Bay bike scene six years ago, but I haven’t.
Remember our first ride, when I dropped you on the Switchbacks? Remember our first three Donuts together, when I dropped you every single time? Remember how after a few rides I started to let you drop me, and then I started to let you finish a few minutes ahead of me, and then I let you start winning a bunch of races I wasn’t in?
Who was it who taught you to attack at the start of the ride and don’t look back until everyone had given up, quit, died, or gone back to pet their lizards?
Who was the ONLY OTHER IDIOT who would join you in Riviera Village breakaways?
And now, because Sausage is buying a new Mercedes Sprunter van (you can’t even sprunt!), you’ve not only refused to sign up for $2.99 per month as severance penalty pay, but you’ve taken the young, innocent, wide-eyed Baby Seal with you.
All of which I could live with. Team Lizard Eaters is strong and we will endure. We still have Dr. Whaaaat? to analyze our power data and post kudos on Facegag and Strive. We still have G3 to organize 300-mile noodle rides for mid-season fitness. We still have G$ to drop everyone else on the team. And this year we have Wike to tell us what to do and then sob hysterically when he sees how incapable we are of doing it.
But how will you ever live with yourself, after all the work I did to get Smasher on the team, not to mention his associates? Smasher doesn’t belong with Team Lizard Lickers, you know that. He’s too good, too smart, too pointlessly strong, and too darned contrarian to ever sit down with his fellow lizard aficionados and discuss the finer points of lizard mating.
He joined Team Lizard Copulators for one reason: You. I told him that since you’re 35 he’d now have a real teammate, and not just that, but the best teammate. Now look at him. He’s so sad that he came over last night and ate all my Shoo Fly Pie, which is essentially a baked tin of flour, shortening, and molasses. That’s some sad shit and he gained five pounds in one sitting.
Well, I hope you guys are pleased with yourself. I hope that you find love and meaning over there at Velo Club La Grunge. I hope you enjoy the fancy Beverly Hills restaurants (pro tip: you’ll both need to bathe once a month now whether you need it or not), the overpriced burger shops, and the sinking feeling of stepping into Sausage’s house and realizing that his foyer is bigger and cost more than your apartment complex.
I hope you’re happy, and please don’t send me one of those “Let’s still be friends” bullshit text messages. You’ve treated me like a wingless fly at the annual Team Lizard Collectors Annual Lizard Feeding Contest.
I may be crippled. I may be slow. I may be old. I may not be any good. But I never, ever, ever forget, and I certainly don’t forgive, unless of course your subscriptions are current. And yours, Surfer Dan, is not.
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November 5, 2015 § 24 Comments
Rapha announced today that it would end its partnership with Team Sky at the end of 2016. Cycling in the South Bay sat down with Chauncy Chalmers, CEO of Rapha, to talk about the divorce.
CitSB: What was it? Irreconcilable differences?
Chauncy: Oh, far from it. We’ve both benefited immensely from the partnership and are leaving on the best of terms. We plan to remain friends, and we wouldn’t be where we are today without Team SKY.
CitSB: And where are you today?
Chauncy: We are the dominant player in the pretentious bicycle clothing market. $345 for a pink plastic vest. See? We OWN it.
CitSB: Yes, but there’s more to your success than that, isn’t there? Rapha is regarded as one of the best fitting, most superbly designed clothing manufacturers in the bike industry, combining the understated English qualities of Savile Row with the hardman exploits of volcano dopers. That’s what they say over at Red Kite Prayer, anyway.
Chauncy: Don’t believe everything you read; that guy was nominated for Wanker of the Year. Our stuff is made by the same underpaid Chinese garment workers as every other label. And get this–the average Chinese worker makes $19.81 per day, just under $2.50 an hour. Pretty sweet mark-up, I’d say.
CitSB: Schweet, for sho. So why the break-up with SKY? Seemed like a match made in heaven. Pretentious British label hawked by marginal gains volcano dopers with funny accents that sound vaguely aristocratic to the untrained American ear, which can’t distinguish between the Queen’s English, Ozzie Jibberjabber, and Pig Latin.
Chauncy: Yes, the American market is what we’ve always referred to as “gullible.” And it certainly has paid the bills.
CitSB: So why the breakup? Faux English tailored cycling kits with a vaguely 70’s design in updated 21st Century Pink; volcano dopers who talk funny and millions of tubby Americans who think Rapha’s been around since Eddy Merckx.
Chauncy: The market is saturated.
CitSB: How can that be? There are ten new baby seals on the NPR every week, ripe for clubbing and for new Rapha kits and for 100% full carbon parts made of pure carbon. It’s only just begun!
Chauncy: Our market research shows that with the exception of New York, Los Angeles, and parts of North County San Diego, the pretentious asshole demographic is saturated and shrinking.
Chauncy: It’s true. Most people who ride bicycles aren’t snobby twits who crave approval by being treated rudely and looked down on. What’s worse, most people who ride bicycles don’t really care what their bicycle clothing looks like.
CitSB: Blasphemy! How do you know that?
Chauncy: We took our team of designers to the Tour of Palm Springs last year to examine the market first hand. Three of our designers are still in therapy. It gets worse. We randomly sampled riders, asking them if they liked Wiggins better than Froome. The answer blew our mind.
CitSB: What did they say?
Chauncy: They all said the same thing: “Who?”
CitSB: Shocking. And so you’ve pulled the plug. What’s Team SKY going to be wearing for 2017 then?
Chauncy: It’s a secret, but I’ll tell you if you promise to keep it off the record.
CitSB: You can trust me.
Chauncy: They’ve hired one of your local guys here in LA to do their kits. Apparently one of the designs here has really caught their fancy.
CitSB: Which one is that?
Chauncy: Big Purple, or Orange, or something.
CitSB: Big Orange?
Chauncy: Yes, that’s the one. You know them? They must have a pretty understated look to catch Team SKY’s eye.
CitSB: Nope. Never heard of ’em.
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October 30, 2015 § 16 Comments
If you ride bicycles a lot you don’t have time to do things like vote, especially since all your time off the bike is spent playing fantasy football. However, you may have heard that we’re about to elect a non-cyclist as president, which basically means that you don’t have a way of evaluating a candidate for our nation’s highest office, i.e. “What’s the dude’s FTP?”
So even though we don’t have any bikers on the slate, which means we’ll spend more trillions on killing people and buying $35 billion airplanes that don’t work and fighting over whether it’s worse to have no health insurance or to pay to have bad insurance instead of spending $1 trillion on cool policies like “a carbon wheelset made of 100% full carbon in every pot.”
This doesn’t mean that the candidates have been silent on cycling, so I’ve ranked them for you based on their cycling politics. The higher the ranking the more deserving they are of your vote.
1. Donald Trump. Sponsored an actual bike race to the tune of $750k, the Tour de Trump, which he named after a handsome, sexy, clever guy who actually said, “This is an event that can be tremendous in the future, and it can really, very much rival the Tour de France.” Trump lost a few points in the Wanky Presidential Poll when he attacked Secretary of State John Kerry for falling off his bicycle and breaking a leg in a “race,” when in fact was simply a Fredathon. Had he gotten his facts straight and called Kerry out for being a Fred, he’d get our vote for Galactic Emperor.
2. Martin O’Malley. Super stud photo on MTB, but demerits for riding it in jeans and keeping one foot on the ground at all times. Although not as strong an advocate as fish cyclist Sarah Palin, O’Malley gave $44,500 dollars to a Baltimore bike safety program. “Whether for tourism, recreation, exercise or commuting, our message is that Maryland roadways welcome bicyclists,” O’Malley said in a press release. “Our state is evolving to include bicycling as a more environmentally beneficial and healthy way of commuting, and to continue those efforts we need bicyclists and drivers to know and follow the basic rules of the road for everyone’s safety.”
3. Hillary Clinton. Rode a bicycle with her husband on the beach and never told him to slow down, complained about her sore crotch, or asked him “if cycling will make my butt look big.” (He reportedly answered, “Yes, but it will make the rest of you skinny,” just before he was rushed to the hospital for some emergency dental work.)
4. Barack Obama. Best bicycle president ever after George Bush. Ineligible for a third term, Obama, despite amazingly dorky bike outfit, shows that you can have your finger on the nuclear button AND your feet on the pedals at the same time. Note nuke-carrying bar attached to seat post for dragging the suitcase around on shopping errands, which is boss.
5. Marco Rubio. Jumped on a bike in full Fred mode and rode at the front of a pack of weaving, swaying, out of control wankers. Obviously, going to the front makes Marco a potential presidential winner, period, and if he’d just worn a pair of stretchy shorts that highlighted his bagels and bone and hadn’t insisted on riding on the top tube, we’d start playing “Hail to the Chief” right now.
6. Jeb Bush. The field gets pretty thin after Marco, and to his discredit the portly Jeb has never said or done anything related to bicycles. However, his brother, a former president, is unquestionably the greatest leader America has ever had. He not only rode an MTB, shelled the secret service wankers whose job it was to protect him, fell off his bicycle and chipped his face before a big meeting, but he invited Lance to the White House just so he could beat the shit out of him on some singletrack. I believe in guilt by association, so the Jebster ranks despite his terrible cycling resume.
7. Rand Paul. Now we’re deep into douchebag territory. Once called the most interesting man in American politics by Time magazine, which proves that Time’s writers will say anything, Paul went on a harangue against highway enhancement funds for bike paths. So far so good, since eliminating all bike paths and making cyclists ride their bikes in the streets where they FUCKING BELONG is something I totally agree with, but he fell off the rails when he equated bicycle infrastructure with “turtle tunnels and squirrel sanctuaries.” Anyone who would insult turtles by comparing their needs to cyclists’ will never get my vote.
8. Sarah Palin. Although America’s dumbest politician hasn’t thrown her bra in the ring yet, Palin gets an honorable mention for her famous quote that “I need NOW’s defense like a fish needs a bicycle,” after Bill Maher called her a “dumb twat” and the National Organization of Women came to her defense. Palin’s advocacy for bicycling fish, however admirable, wasn’t strong enough to get her any higher in the rankings as she hasn’t yet officially declared.
9. Bernie Sanders. One of our biggest disappointments. Bernie, who believes in “enough for all,” who thinks education and health care are more important than war and guns for toddlers, who supports a living wage, who believes the environment is the leading issue of our time, and who thinks that diplomacy must involve negotiation rather than kneejerk war, doesn’t have a single Internet photo of him riding a bike. What’s worse, the only thing even approximating Bernie on a bike is him standing at an outdoor barbecue with a bike in the foreground. Shame on you, Bernie! If you ain’t ridin’ you’re hidin’!
10. Rick Santorum. Makes the list because he hates bike paths along with Rand Paul. Santorum’s jab at cycling came in a 2011 Sac City, Iowa speech: “There’s no federal interest in bicycle paths. Is that a federal government responsibility? It is not.” He added “Local money should be spent on local projects.” Santorum’s anti-bike rhetoric was especially meaningful to the denizens of Sac City, which was named a RAGBRAI stop in 2012.
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October 20, 2015 § 18 Comments
Before I go to a foreign country I like to try and learn to speak the language, or at least enough of it to make a complete idiot out of myself. You’ve all been there; boning up on French, arriving in Paris and asking the waiter while your heart is pounding like an 8-year old on the piano, “May please good morning eggs of soft nice weather,” and he replies in perfect English “Could you repeat that in English, please?”
I’m never deterred by coming across like a fool. If I were I wouldn’t practice law or ride a bicycle in my underwear duded up like superman without the cape or the special powers or the muscles or the good looks. And since we’re going to Taiwan next year I decided to crack out the ol’ Chinese textbooks I’d used in college. Unfortunately, they had been tossed somewhere between Move #12 and Move #35, so I ordered a new set of Practical Chinese Readers and got to work.
You may have heard that Chinese is difficult, but that’s only if you want to appear non-imbecilic. Otherwise it’s not that hard. Each morning as part of my masters bicycle racing workout I walk around the complex for an hour or so, listening to Chinese tapes on my iPhone 2 (gonna upgrade to 3 any day now!). We have a lot of Chinese neighbors and it’s been hot so they all sleep with their windows open.
I bet it’s weird to hear someone stomping around outside at 5:00 AM muttering, “My name is Ma Da-wei. I am Canadian. I met a beautiful girl. Are you busy? Let’s have cake. She is my sister. He is my grandfather on my mother’s side. Beijing is very big.”
Walking every morning is good exercise, too. It builds bone density without destroying the bone like running does. It’s also not filled with pain, as running is. Because walking is good exercise I have a longstanding habit of parking on French Street when I have court in Santa Ana. That’s about a mile from the courthouse, so I save on parking and get to stretch my legs before getting abused by judges and opposing counsel.
This morning as I was walking to court I came up to the stop light at the same time as a group of people. I immediately realized they were speaking Chinese. They were staring at a map and arguing about how to get to the Methodist Church, which was a block away. I knew this because they kept gesticulating at the map which said “Methodist Church French Street” in English.
They ignored me of course.
“Excuse me,” I said in my best Chinese. “There house walk walk to go.”
Shit got quiet pretty quick. “What?” said one of the tourists in Chinese. “You speak Chinese?”
“Yes,” I beamed. “My book teacher every day talk walk Chinese practice. Taiwan go.”
They began smiling and laughing and congratulating me on my complete mastery of this rather complicated language. It didn’t hurt that I was wearing a suit and carrying a fancy leather briefcase. “See you later!” they said, waving as they marched off to the Methodist Church. “Thank you for your help!”
“You’re welcome Thursday!” I blurted out. Then I checked my Timex and hurried off to court.
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