When I walk through the office with my helmet, bicycle seat and basket, co-workers who haven’t seen this ask, “Ta, did you just mug an undergrad?” While that would be amusing, I haven’t. Mostly. Today, the head of a different department on a cigarette break asked if I bicycle to work for necessity or fun. He meant did I get a DUI or plump up unpleasantly – or did I actually like it? I laughed. I actually like it. He asked a lot of questions. He seemed genuinely interested in the idea of bicycling to work. Not for himself, though: he lives ten miles from the library and has lungs like an octogenarian. Just generally interested. He also said the thing everyone says when they see me on a bicycle.
Dude: You have excellent posture.
In point of fact, I do. I also have abundant cleavage so if I did not have excellent posture every time I rode off a curb I’d risk a black eye. It’s polite of him to notice. Anyway, the more I thought about his questions as I rode away, the more I had to say about bicycling. You should at least pretend to be surprised.
In my two mile ride, there are five pretty dangerous spots, two of which will someday be covered with cut flowers and homemade crosses when some cyclist gets the tartare treatment. Pete and I last night worked out a detour I tried out this morning around another intersection so badly designed young lawyers should set up lawn chairs and tap their watches. These intersections are bad if you’re on foot, annoying in a car and positively life-threatening on a bike. People of all sorts walk across the bridge, but cyclists are usually students and Hispanic men; the people who aren’t finishing the bridge construction aggravating the arthritis of perambulating Jews give even less of a good goddamn about poor people on Schwinns skidding up a hill on gravel in oncoming traffic. Frankly, Siobhan’s got my lawyer in her five and if she doesn’t hear from me by 7:30 a.m., they plan for happy hour in the ICU.
The local gendarmerie is rumored to be very hostile toward bicyclists riding the sidewalks. I was specifically warned to steer clear, as tickets and frisking are a possibility. Last night – I don’t know if you heard – we had a badass electrical storm and this morning, debris lay everywhere. I rode down a small side street and found my path blocked by a huge fallen tree, upended sidewalk and jagged branches everywhere. Fortunately, I know the paths and malls; I wasn’t even late for work. It was even kind of exciting.
Despite all this, I really love bicycling to work. When I started walking to work in 2006, I also went whole months between visits to the gas station. I felt better being outdoors and getting some exercise before and after work, and spending the time alone improved the time I had to spend with – you know – people. Bicycling is even better. I recommend it completely, especially if you hate your office or have high blood pressure. I do not recommend bicycling if your wife has just taken out an unusually large life insurance policy. Because you know.
I have a thousand other things to say that’ll wait but I absolutely can’t wait to tell you this. Pete and I were driving to the Cape and I was taking pictures of my giant, thrashing hair. Just before the Bourne Bridge, I saw something I didn’t understand through the trees. I said to my brain, “Brain, you are full of crazy.” My brain was having none of it. “I am about to have a last laugh you will long remember,” said my brain. “Har har,” I laughed. Me? Remember? Then without my noticing, my hands picked up the camera again, turned it on and pointed it to that thing I was seeing and refusing to see through the trees.
At the dining room table at the Cape, I asked if anyone else had seen the giraffe. Everyone dropped a fork. What giraffe? The giraffe at the foot of Bourne Bridge. Where? On what side? On the other side. Where? At the foot of the bridge. I thought I was hallucinating it but then I took a picture. You have a picture of the giraffe? Yeah, I have a picture, maybe two. When I took the picture the sun was in the wrong place so I couldn’t tell if I was getting it. Point. Click. Point. Click. See?
I turned around the laptop at the dinner table and they saw. And the people who cross the bridge all the time saw the giraffe they’d never seen before.