April 21, 2015 § 25 Comments
It is an unfortunate characteristic of cyclists, especially those who have signed up for the 2015 Belgian Waffle Ride, that they only focus on the slaughter.
“It’s gonna be sooooo hard.”
“Hope my gonads don’t permanently retract.”
“There’s over 40 miles, metric and English, of dirt!!!”
“Dood. Yer gonna need wider tars. Thicker rims. Leaden-er frame.”
I understand that, with the exception of carbon, nothing is as much fun as “hard.” So let’s all agree that the 2015 BWR will be hard. Hard for winners. Hard for hardmen, hard for hardwomen, hard for finishers, and insanely hard for non-cycling spouses who must endure the months of dinnertime drivel with a fake pastiche of an interested smile flitting across their visages.
And now that we’ve all agreed that the slaughter is gonna be hard, and therefore fun in a root canal kind of way, let’s talk about something that will actually be fun in the objective, non-sado/masochistic sense: The Saturday BWR Expo Drunkfest Foodfest Fattening of the Lambs held on Saturday, April 25.
You see, prior to eating four grains of rice, shitting thrice from pre-ride anxiety, and rolling out in order to immediately get dropped on race day (I mean ride day), there will be a ritual lamb fattening exercise at The Lost Abbey brewery in San Marcos, which also happens to be the start/finish on race day. (Kidding, it’s not really a race, it’s more like a bumpy coffee cruise.)
The expo center will, like all expo centers, be filled with some things that interest you and with other things that do not. I can tell you in advance that no matter what you do there, you must drink copious amounts of Lost Abbey beer. Do this for me and for the handful of other struggling drunks for whom a fattening event and finishing area surrounded by free-flowing taps of some of the world’s finest ales is like offering someone dying of thirst all the water he wants as long as he first eats a block of salt studded with razor blades.
Yes indeed, take the opportunity to swizzle and guzzle and hoozle and fozzle because the beer will be fresh, foamy, delectable, and best of all you can search me out at the expo while holding the mug up under my nose and then stare cruelly at me saying this: “You know you want it. You know you can’t have it. It’s soooooo good.”
Then you can take a long draught and say, “Want a sip? Just one. A tiny one. It won’t hurt and I won’t tell. Here. On me.”
Then after they’ve cuffed and stuffed me and taken you off to the morgue I won’t have to ride the BWR the next day.
So, what are my other picks for the expo? Here are the top three, in this exact order of importance:
- Food by Sam Ames. Sam is a native of Bakelahoma, a city in the Central Valley that combines the very worst qualities of redneck California and the best qualities of Oklahoma (there aren’t any). If you are rude to women, mean to little kids, or just an all-purpose asshole, in addition to making the best food you’ll ever eat indoors or out, Sam will also provide you with a butt-kicking to take home and show all your friends along with, hopefully, a brand new set of manners to go with your teeth-replacement-therapy. Sam’s cooking is delightful, filling, and just exactly what you hope that Neil Shirley, Phil Tinstman, Ryan Trebon, and the other handful of BWR assassins will overdose on prior to the race. I mean the ride. Sam’s food creations will also go a long way to pacifying your S.O. for having to hang out with your biker friends. Also, make extra good friends with Greg, the guy with the giant carving knife and the extra-large serving spoon.
- Carbon wheels by FastForward. After drinking a gallon of Lost Abbey beer and swallowing a few pounds of Bakelahoma barbecue, you will need some really fast, light, beautiful, affordable carbon racing wheels. Why? Because carbon. I can personally vouch for the difference that a pair of great carbon racing wheels made of 100% carbon will make on race day, just not on the BWR race day, I mean ride day. For the BWR you should try to get a next-day shipment from http://www.concretewheelsets.com.
- Pooky Festersore’s Offended Tent. Pooky sets up his world-famous offended tent at major exhibitions around the world to allow people who are offended to come by and vent their anger at unflattering portrayals in the media, insulting jokes, having had sand kicked in their face during childhood, or edgy event press releases. In addition to a giant feather pillow with the center hollowed out so as not to exacerbate existing butt hurtedness, tent visitors will, for $17.99, receive a framed apology for whatever it was that offended them along with a free pack of tissues and a pat on the back.
So whether you’re looking for great beer, great food, carbon, or a sympathetic shoulder to whine on, the BWR expo will have it all. You’ll leave full, happy, expectant, and ready to be disemboweled on Sunday. Enjoy!
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April 20, 2015 § 18 Comments
I have to take my hat off to Sam Ames, the guy who promotes the annual district masters road race championships here in SoCal. He makes very difficult races, runs them well, and gets the predictable flak.
This year CHP advised that no follow cars would be allowed, so riders were told to pack a tube, lever, and CO2 cartridge. One rider called Sam to voice his displeasure. “No follow car? For the state championship? That’s unacceptable!”
“Look, Wankface,” said Sam. “Can I ask you a question?”
“How many races have you been in where you flatted, got a timely change from the follow car, chased back on, and won?”
Pause. “Well, never.”
“So be sure to bring a spare tube, okay?”
The 50+ race had a star-studded field of used-to-be’s and wish-I’d-been’s, but the only one who mattered, it turned out, was Thurlow. After 65 miles in the skin-sizzling heat, after 7,000 feet of climbing, and after all but ten riders had been ripped like a hangnail out of the lead group, BonkBreaker’s Zimmerman attacked over the last little hump. He opened a gap and Chris Walker bridged. Seeing the looks of grim desolation on the faces of the remnants, Thurlow launched and joined the leaders.
Zimmerman dropped a kidney, Thurlow attacked and soloed in, and Walker could do naught but pedal squares to the line.
Not that I saw any of it. I had been dispensed with many miles before, discarded with the disgust and finality of a used Kleenex. But like every other bicycle race it had started full of promise and hope.
We rolled out some thirty riders strong, powering into a unique air formation that proved to be a headwind going out, a headwind coming back, and an underwind-topdown wind everywhere else, with a dose of powerful sidewind, like gonorrhea. We hit the first climb and I hewed to my mantra: “Hide, cower, suck wheel. Save me, Father Carbon.”
Midway up it was clear that the prayer and the expensive wheel purchase and the monk-like existence of fasting, celibacy, sobriety, and 8:00 PM bedtimes was working. The only thing that gave me pause was the disclaimer on the flyer that said, as it always does, “Watch out for rattlesnakes, venomous spiders, scorpions, and attack bees.”
I wondered about that because we were passing a huge clump of roadside blooming weeds and they were covered in bees. “Are they attack bees?” I wondered. “What is an attack bee?” At that instant three of them flew into the large vents in my helmet. I am allergic to bee stings.
Ever since I was a small child I have been terrified of bees and wasps.When I was eight I kicked a wasp’s nest and got 35 stings, wound up in the hospital for a week, and almost died. The following summer I doused a beehive with lighter fluid and tried to burn it, but the fire didn’t take. The bees, however, did, and what they took to was me. Fifty stings and another hospital stay and lots of injections. When I was twelve my brother and I tried to eradicate all the yellow jacket nests in our neighborhood. We had a long stick with rags soaked in gasoline, and went from nest to nest incinerating them.
All went well until the fifth one. The rags came undone and fell onto my head, aflame. My hair caught fire and the wasps attacked. This time I had to get a bit of a skin graft, which got infected, and I simultaneously almost died from what the doctor said was a record, one hundred wasp stings.
I thought about all that as the attack bees crawled around on my scalp. I hoped that they would find the anterior wind vent and exit, but as I waited the first acceleration came. Several riders didn’t come with it, but I hid and cowered and survived. We made it to the turnaround and Jeff K. punched it over each of the short stabbing climbs we had descended into the little valley and now had to come out from.
More riders chose a different, more humane pace. I struggled, and straggled, and held on. The bees continued to crawl around my head. As we hit the long 4-mile headwind to complete our first 25-mile lap, Todd P. began castigating us for our slowness and laziness. “When are you guys gonna start racing?” he snapped, attacking off the front into the wind, where he was followed by G$. They vanished.
I thought about that question, “When are you guys gonna start racing?” and realized that if we hadn’t started yet, then I didn’t want to be — and plainly wouldn’t be — around when we did. We finished the first lap and several more riders chose a different pace; a couple even decided to unilaterally shorten their race from three laps to one, mortally wounded as they were by Proximity To The Car Fever and its attendant symptom, Common Sense.
Two of the bees flew out, so I was down to one. We started up the big climb again. Todd and G$ were thirty seconds ahead. Our designated rider, DJ, was going to need some help on this one. I always love it when a team leader needs a dutiful lieutenant to go jump on several dozen grenades, because that’s always my cue to cower and hide even more. Teammates are an abstraction in bike racing, because in reality everyone is your enemy and they must all be killed in order for you to prevail.
Alan F., who had been trading places with me at the rear, moved to the point to bring back G$ and Todd. Inexplicably I was on his wheel. Was it reflex? Bad judgment? A misguided attempt to help my teammate?
It was part of the Iron Rule of Bicycle Racing:
Throughout the race, people will behave irrationally, hopelessly, and with no clear objective other than self-defeat so that he who waits longest and does the least can pounce and win.
G$and Todd were deep in the throes of senselessness and as Alan dragged them back, my proximity to the front was wearing me out. What was I doing there? Why was I anywhere near the front? Didn’t I know that every square millimeter of wind exposure was the same as riding with a spinnaker when you are large and fat and slow and weak and tired?
When Alan sat up, Chris Walker pulled through hard, inflicting difficulty and little black spots on the weak and infirm. Alan and I tailed off. “Good work, guys,” DJ said as we imploded. We had pulled back 3.1 or perhaps 1.2929272028 seconds on G$ and Todd, who now instead of being tiny specks were more like smallish specks.
Alone again, naturally, I chased back on, got dropped again, hit the turnaround, passed the women’s field, then got passed by the women’s field, then settled into a rhythm of despair and self-loathing and full-body cramps, each racking shudder causing me to think “Wow, I didn’t know there was a muscle there.”
On the downhill I was overhauled by King Harold and Dandy. They were angry, breathing fire, and mostly intent on catching and dropping the women. I was now lodged in the Pincer Movement from Hell, having to choose between hanging onto their battering pulls into the under/top/side/headwind, or sitting up and never re-passing the women. The final lap was as terrible as childbirth when you are a human and the progeny is a grown and angry porcupine.
Dandy and King Harold pulled me around, waited for me on the climbs, and after a mere one hour and fifteen minutes of indescribable torment, their teamwork, assistance, and selfless work got us to the line, where, after resting for the entire final 25 miles, I dropped them both and sprinted for 17th place.
You know it was a difficult race when the finishers are rolling around in the dirt afterwards clenched up in various post-race cramp positions. Fortunately, the race turned out much more successfully for me than my 19th place might indicate. By spending about $1,500 on new wheels, I moved up ten places from the previous year. So with another $1,500 expenditure in 2016 I can expect a top-ten, and then a final $1,500 investment in 2017 should ensure a win. I probably won’t even have to show up and they can just mail me my medal. Right?
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April 17, 2015 § 25 Comments
I always wondered about that slogan. Just do what? It? Really? What if “it” is jumping off a bridge? Letting a drunk frat dude shoot an apple off my head with a compound bow? Have another one for the road? Because as we all know, the more you drink the more awesome the road becomes, especially when you’re behind the wheel of a car.
Don’t just do it. First, think about it, then, 99 times out of a 100, don’t do it. Then watch how time and unfolding events reward the cautious, the timid, the conservative, the frightened, the calculating, and the weak as the brave Just Doers plunge over the falls in a barrel.
When it comes to the state road race in Bakersfield tomorrow, however, you should definitely just do it. I know I’m going to. Why? Because it will be steel-smelting hot, dry as a California drought in the Central Valley — where Bakersfield actually is — and monumentally tough.
“Those are all reasons NOT to do it,” you’re saying to yourself.
Not quite. I forgot to add that it’s 75 miles long, hilly as hell, and the roadway is lined with stinging giant bees and rattlesnakes and oilfield trucks who think you would make a great piece of grill meat, right next to the mushed up grasshoppers and other bugs.
“Fuggit,” you’re saying. I can hear you. “No fuggin’ way.”
If your racing age is 50, though, maybe I can entice you because the 50+ Rather Leaky Prostate Category is going to be fun. As of today the pre-reg shows that at a minimum the race will be attended by Konsmo, Leibert, The Hand of God, Jaeger, and a bunch of other people I’ve never beaten in any bike race, ever. Day-of cameos will likely include Mark Noble, DQ Louie, The Parksie Twins, and one or two other carbon-eating bikeovores.
Since past behavior is the single best predictor of future performance, the fact that I’ve been dropped from the lead group every year since 2008 racing against essentially the same cast of crazies seems to indicate that this year will be more of the same, and since the race is 75 miles instead of 50, paying tribute to the biological reality that we get faster and stronger as we get older, I may be able to add a big fat DNF to my state road race palmares.
Delusion, however, dies hard, especially when it lives in tandem with massive infusions of cash. Fact is, I’m ready for this race. My monthly mileage is up to 150. I’ve bumped my FTP up from 185 to 189, and at 170 pounds I’m even svelter than I was when I worked as a burger chef. The cash infusion, however, will be decisive.
Since Mrs. WM doesn’t ever read this blog I can confess that three days ago I picked up a pair of FastForward back-ordered Super Ultra F-12 Full Carbon Tubular Climbing Carbon Four Spoke Heliomatrix Elevator Racing Wheels, which are full carbon with a carbon content of 100%. They are carbon and even though I got the super-down-low-don’t-tell-a-soul-this-is-just-for-you Bro Deal, my credit card started smoking when they ran it through the little card reader thingy.
Next, not worried at all about how I was going to pay the rent, okay, a little worried, I dashed over to Boozy P.’s place. Boozy P. is my ace mechanic. He lives behind a massive craft brewery and has franking privileges there like the US Congress does at the post office. I’m not making this up. It was the crack of noon, so Boozy was just getting out of floor when I banged on the garage door.
“Yo, Boozy!” I yelled. “I got some work for ya!”
There was a long silence followed by lots more silence. I banged harder and Boozy silenced harder. He eventually rolled up the garage door and blinked at the sunlight. “Sure is getting light earlier now,” he said.
“It’s noon, Boozy. It’s always light at noon.” I handed him the wheels. “Dude, Saturday is the most important race of my life. I bought these full carbon 100% carbon wheels just for the race and I need you to glue on the tires. We’ll be hitting 50 mph on the downhills so it has to be done right. A rolled tire and I’m a dead man. My life is in your hands.”
“Yeah, of course,” he said, absentmindedly reaching over for a hammer.
“Not the hammer, Boozy, the rim cement. And you need to use more than half a thimble on these puppies.”
“Yeah, sure thing, dude.” Boozy sat down on the bench and began wiping away the rivers of sweat that poured off his head and stomach. “What color bar tape did you say you wanted?”
“I didn’t say anything about bar tape. We’re talking about tubulars and how my life depends on you doing this right and how you’re gonna glue ’em on perfectly and not with that fuggin’ hammer.” Boozy was fiddling with the hammer again, and it was making me nervous.
“Sure thing, dude.” Boozy wiped away more sweat. “Hey, I think the brewery’s open now. Wanna go grab a quick one for the road?”
“I quit drinking, remember?”
Boozy looked sad. “Oh yeah, that’s right. Mind if I go get a couple IPA’s? One for me, and I’ll drink your one for the road.”
“Sure, but glue on the tires first.”
“Right,” he said. “Could you hand me that screwdriver?”
I left before the migraines began. Two days later I picked up the wheels. The fact that three quarts of rim cement were not smeared from the the rims to the tires to the spokes to the hubs meant that Boozy had either done an immaculate job or he’d used the industry-standard 1/4 thimble of glue and half a gob of spit.
I got home and put on the wheels. The were so light that my bike kept jerking up off the pavement. I floated up the Cove Climb. I dance up Via Zumaya. I jetted up Hawthorne and Monaco faster than I’d ever pedaled before. The tires were glued to perfection. My legs felt good, and suddenly the prospect of being thrown into the cage with Greg, Jeff, THOG, DJ, and the Parksie Twins didn’t seem scary, only pointless and stupid.
I was gonna do it on Saturday. Just do it.
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April 16, 2015 § 23 Comments
I rolled down to the Starbucks at the mall after work, pretentious foreign language novel under my arm and jaunty beret neatly covering my bald spot. First, I ordered the public off-menu Sulawesi pango-pango, which I always order.
“Excuse me,” I said as the girl swiped my gift card. “The public off-menu has the tall listed as $3.00 and you just charged me $3.50.”
The barista looked at me funny. In Palos Verdes fifty cents isn’t an actual monetary sub-unit. “Oh, you’re right,” she said. Then she thumbed up at the publicly secret off-menu. “The manager hasn’t changed the prices yet.”
“Well he has on the register … ” I trailed off.
“Right,” she said, rolling her eyes and then taking out a complicated swipe card + key and getting the assistant manager’s authorized signature before refunding me my two quarters. I realized that even though people in PV don’t count quarters, the Starbucks assistant manager apparently does.
Next, I settled down at the table and took out my pretentious foreign language novel, and after that my even more pretentious issue of the Economist. It was conveniently opened to an article about quantitative easing in the EC and the way it has doused deflationary fears with mitochondrial expression of lysosomes and the mechanistic target of rapamycin.
No sooner had I comfortably propped up the pretentious foreign language novel so that everyone could see it than a crazy lady came up to me. I knew she was crazy at first glance. She was blonde and very pretty but her eyes were crazy. It took one glance at the eyes for me to know, that and the shopping cart. She was in the middle of a cramped Starbucks with an entire shopping cart from the Pavilions grocery store next door.
Beautiful women with giant shopping carts in the Starbucks are generally crazy. Inside the shopping cart was a mountain of food, mostly chips and frozen items. The frozen items were melting, I supposed, further evidence of her craziness. Atop Mt. Frozen Food she had perched her two screaming, squalling, snot-covered brats, the obvious source of her insanity.
The children had that dirty, fungal, contagious look of 2-year-olds who had been scrubbed clean at 7:00 AM but by 5:00 PM were covered in a layer of food bits, spit, dirt, dried blood, grunge from the floor of the shopping aisles, and spilled liquids whose chief qualities were brown. The children smelled sour and were full of terrible energy. I felt slightly crazy just looking at them.
The woman had that triple-post-partum depression that has morphed into edgy infanticidal tendencies, and she paid no attention to the brats as they teetered, screaming, atop the melting ice cream, with lots of empty space between their heads and the hard floor they were poised to launch onto at any moment. The crazy woman glanced at my book and snorted contemptuously. Then to no one except perhaps the kids, since there didn’t appear to be any other Slavs in the cafe, she let out a string of what I can only assume were monstrous curses in Russian.
Although I don’t speak Russian, I do speak angry mother, and the phrase “Stop doing that or I will smack the shit out of you” is the same in all languages.
Just as I tried to refocus from her breasts to my pango-pango, she said something to me. I knew it was me because the only other people nearby were two high school kids who were shrieking and laughing at some private joke. “Hey you,” said the crazy lady. “Is that your bicycle?” She pointed to my trick whip leaning against the window.
“Yes,” I said, “but I won’t trade it for the cart and the kids.”
She laughed. “They terrible little monsters.” On cue the tousle-headed boy smacked his sister in the face, who responded by smacking him back and biting his arm. We moved our lips at each other for a few seconds until we could hear dimly through the din of howling cries.
“They don’t look like little monsters,” I smiled. “More like dreadful little blood-sucking aliens.”
The crazy lady brightened, perhaps hoping I’d reconsider the kid-trade offer she had been about to make before I had read her mind and rejected it. “You bicyclist? That’s very fancy bike for coffee shop riding.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I’m a professional.”
“You ride for the pro team?”
“Sure. I’m with Katusha.”
She cocked an eyebrow and said something that had po-russki stuck in it somewhere. “No, I don’t speak Russian,” I said. “I’m based here in the states.”
“My friend he is bicycle racer,” she said as one of the brats hurled the tub of half-thawed ice cream out of the fort.
“What’s his name? I probably know him. Hell, if he’s Russian I’ve probably beaten him.”
“Dmitri Shostakovich. You know him?”
“Dmitri? Sure. Russian dude from Moscow, right? Raced with him a bunch in Belgium.”
“You so smart,” she laughed. “But very bad liar. You just old man with fancy bike maybe no job because you hanging out around high school girls in coffee shop chatting at housewife when other man still working hard at job for family.”
“Hey, you got me wrong. Doesn’t Dmitri ride for a Continental team? Or is he on Oleg Tinkov’s development squad? I can’t remember, but I know the dude. Really.”
“Dmitri Shostakovich great Russian composer, he is died in 1975.”
“Oh,” I said. “THAT Dmitri Shostakovich. So, you come here often?”
The two brats were in a death clench of screams, hits, bites, and sloppy quiescent treats. “Yes, sometimes,” she said. “Do you?” The crazy in her eyes had dialed up to eleven. They went up to eleven.
I looked again at the kids. “No,” I said. “I’m visiting here from Texas. Leaving town in a half hour.” I left my pango-pango on the table, the cup still hot and half-full.
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April 14, 2015 § 18 Comments
Ah yes, the old pray-for-a-miracle or form-changing-in-the-middle-of-a-five-day-stage-race race plan: “If I got lucky and the form changed or something then maybe I’d win it.” Chris Horner on his strategy for winning the Redlands Classic. CyclingNews, April 13, 2015.
It’s true, there weren’t a lot of fans jumping up and down saying “18th! He did it!”: “Some detractors may say him finishing 18th is a little underwhelming.” David Brailsford, trying to make the best of Brad Wiggins’s disappointing, final road race at Paris-Roubaix. CyclingNews, April 14, 2015.
The question tormenting your team is “Why didn’t you win?”: “A question has been tormenting me since yesterday!!!” Luca Paolini, complaining about why riders were allowed to slip through the closed railway crossing during Paris-Roubaix. CyclingNews, April 14, 2015.
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April 13, 2015 § 35 Comments
I hopped on my bike and coasted downhill to the Starbucks. I had been practicing my Euro-hipster look at home on the couch, skinny jeans, faded t-shirt, carefully manicured shaggy goatee with a pretentious dog-eared novel in a foreign language, and after many months of carefully adopting a seriously casual leg drape with accompanying ironically intellectual scowl I was ready to try it out in the guppy tank of PV moms and one-percent financial advisers.
I checked the mirror and decided to add a knitted cap and my trusty hoodie for an accent of locals-only surfer elan, and practiced a couple of slouches to see which one most clearly hid the title of my foreign language novel while nonetheless exposing it to anyone who took a second look, which everyone in PV always does.
As I stood in line I carefully studied the off-menu coffee menu at Starbucks, which is secretly posted on a giant hand-chalked board next to the regular menu. The thought that I could pay an extra couple of dollars to have something called “Sulawesi” rather than “Pike” made me feel even cooler. The farmers in Indonesia were doubtlessly benefiting from my fair trade organic purchase and in a generation or two would be driving SUV’s and sending their kids to Harvard. I love saving the world through a specialty drink caffeine addiction in a global conglomerate chain cafe.
With my steaming cup of earth-rescuing coffee (eco-friendly ceramic cup only please because, pandas) I strategically positioned myself on the long table and spread out my hipster props which included an aged and rugged shoulder bag whose faded color and nicks and patches suggested days alone in the Himalayas even though it was mostly a lock carrier that I used when I went to the mall. I opened my pretentious foreign language novel and tried to read a page or two before giving up, as it was in a foreign language and therefore almost impossible to understand, and anyway I don’t like to read.
It was about 3:00 PM and the high school kids were filtering in from across the street. This was kind of a bummer, because whereas the housewives would instantly recognize me as hip and mysteriously suave Bohemian who was either unemployed or living on a trust account and be awed by my thick foreign language novel, the kids would only see, and wrongly so, a wrinkly old bum who hadn’t shaved in a month.
Two boys burst in, grabbed a table, and whipped out their laptop-iPad thingies. One of them was tall and rather handsome, slim but not skinny with a shock of black hair and intelligent eyes that shot around the cafe looking for someone. The other was shorter, with high cheekbones and brilliantly white teeth. They looked together out into the parking lot, scanned it, and then went back to their phones and texted madly, never speaking.
A few minutes later in walked two girls. The one in front had light brown hair and very pale skin. Her eyes were green and her features, although plain, had the stunning beauty of youth that you only truly see when you are old, too old to even exist for them except perhaps, if you’re lucky, in the category of “Grandpa.” Her hair was tied back in long braid with a pink ribbon on the end, and she giggled when her friend said something and glanced over at the boys.
The friend had an enormous bouquet of black hair that was restrained with ties and ropes and ribbons and things, and her mouth was arced with full red lips of the most sensuous kind. Unlike the demure apparel of her friend, she was wearing a tight t-shirt with a deep vee that fought to contain her breasts, and a pair of intensely short shorts that folded around her thighs and butt with the fierce force of the world’s tightest shrink wrap.
I pretended not to notice, being concerned about various laws and being exceedingly ashamed at my high degree of observance, but being invisible to them it was hard not to stare. No one paid the least attention to my foreign language book, and on reflection I wondered if they even knew what a paperback was.
The girls sauntered over to the boys and a lively conversation ensued for a moment or two. There was electricity in the air. Then the girl with the braid pointed into the parking lot and I heard her say, “Mom’s here.” The two girls went outside as the ridiculously expensive German car pulled up with the 50-ish matron dressed and surgeried to pass for 40. The matron, I thought, would notice my book.
As the girls said their goodbyes, the gentle touch of hands became a hug, which became an embrace, which became a fully engaged kiss, the kiss of lovers, the kiss of young lovers, the passionate embrace of seventeen that you only feel once if you’re lucky, as the girl with the braid stroked the forehead of the girl with the wild hair, there in public for all to see, unabashed, unashamed, accepted by their families and the world, as young love is supposed to be.
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April 11, 2015 § 24 Comments
California state senator Carol Liu’s attempt to mandate helmet usage for cyclists ran into a roadblock when cycling advocates presented nearly uniform opposition to the bill. With the exception of blogger Patrick Brady over at Red Kite Bore, who took a “Doesn’t affect me” stance, the LA County Bicycle Coalition, California Association of Bicycling Organizations, and the California Bicycle Coalition vehemently opposed the bill.
As a result, the helmet law was scrapped and instead morphed into a bill to require that the Department of the Highway Patrol conduct a comprehensive study of bicycle helmet use. I heartily applaud this new bill because it clearly seeks to provide a scientific framework around which to base future helmet legislation. Requiring helmets to prevent head injuries is likely crucial to protecting our vulnerable population of cyclists, however, the legislation does not go far enough.
The study should be expanded to include all head injuries in California. A clear understanding of what causes people to injure their heads, if based on hard science, could lead to a revolution in head protection throughout this country, and ideally the world. In addition to requiring helmets for cyclists, a science-based study would almost certainly lead to other areas where the use of helmets would greatly improve the safety of our population.
I propose a “Protecting America” movement that will help expand Senator Liu’s bill to include a study of all head injuries and that will hopefully lead to full-time helmet usage in the following areas:
- Caging: More than 16,000 youth drivers suffer acute head injuries in accidents every year. All cagers in driving school, as well as those in their first five years of driving should be required to wear helmets. Since it is impossible to say whether the caging public at large will at any given time be hit by a youth driver, all drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists should likewise be required to wear helmets. Protecting our youth is our nation’s highest priority.
- Bathing: Over 235,000 people each year get injured while bathing and showering, with a disproportionate number of falls affecting women, youth, and those over age 85. Legislation should be directed to require women and elders to never enter a shower or bath area without full head protection. Since many of the injuries result in hip fractures, particularly for the elderly, Sen. Liu’s study should also include a comprehensive review of the effectiveness of “bathing armor,” i.e. clothing that can be worn while bathing that will protect fragile joints.
- Shitting: Shitters over the age of 65 are particularly prone to injury while getting up and off the toilet. “Injuries getting on and off the toilet are quite high in people 65 and older,” says Judy Stevens, an epidemiologist at the CDC. Research on helmet usage among shitters over age 65 should be included in the bill, with a view towards requiring implementation of shitting helmet standards for the elderly, along with in-home surveillance systems similar to red light cameras that can observe helmetless shitting violations and issue citations.
- Fucking: Although statistics are hard to come by since emergency room patients usually ascribe their injuries during sex to another cause due to embarrassment, head injuries during coitus can be devastating, especially among younger, more adventurous sexual partners who are attempting sex acts on mountain tops, in moving vehicles, or with firearms. By expanding Sen. Liu’s research mandate to include copulation-related injuries, we can get a better handle on the dangers associated with this activity and hopefully come up with legislation that will require fuckers of all ages to be helmeted before, during, and after sex. Elder Californians having sex while sitting on the toilet in the shower should have particular legislation drafted to ensure their safety.
I hope you will join me as I support Sen. Liu in her attempt to make our state, and hopefully our galaxy, a safer place, a galaxy where head injuries will eventually become a thing of the past.
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