“Why Do You Hit Me When I’m Exercising Next to the Road?”
by Paul Handley
I feel your disdain for me threaded throughout the exhaust that envelops me as we wait side-by-side waiting for the light to change. The smog from your F150 is not doing my cardiovascular system any favors as well as taking the planet one step closer to oblivion. Easy as it would be for me to hate, I must forgive. Sure, I could take the road less traveled and make everyone’s commute easier, but I feel I should, nay it is a moral duty for me to demonstrate on the path of humanity.
I don’t feel any hostility toward you even when you aren’t paying attention to the street and I have enough flashing lights and reflectors on my bike to simulate a firefight in Afghanistan. Moths swarm me when I stop. I see your stealthy approach in my tiny rear view mirror connected by a wire sticking out of my helmet that also has an interchangeable lens for a monocle I use while reading maps. My second uni-lens by the way. Once at a stop sign, an outgoing fist from the passenger window clocked me dead on. There’s a little bit of a dark circle imprint still left around my left eye. Still, my aim is to create a dialectic by example and not condemn.
I want this despite feeling like Ben Hur next to chariots with dagger rims. By scale even a Prius looks like a rig in a tractor pull contest next to my bike. A scale that’s as horrific as when my big brother used to stamp on my fleet of toy windjammers where the guests of the cruise ship I was playing with in the tub, engaged in water frolic. He would crush my ocean liner feigning an aerial attack. Brutally submerging the cruise ship under his symbolic boot where I was playing Activity Director by introducing a band that had a couple of top fifty rock ballads in the late 70s. Even then I was into recycling.
Constant motion creates synergy when obeying traffic laws. I put down a customized kickstand and breakout a few jumping jacks while anticipating the emerald rays of light from the stoplight. Gazing into your front seat I can see the muscles twitch in your forearms, battling an involuntary contraction to swerve into me. Epithets threaten to make a steel tomb for me out of my bike by rolling over it and then backing up over it again with me underneath it. I’ve received it all, but my favorite is the mock lascivious slurping aimed at my aerodynamic clothing alluding to my questionable sexuality. If I had a dollar for every person that yelled” hey are you going to pull those bike shorts any further into your asshole crack,” I could fund a biking think tank I’ve been mulling over. I don’t even know which crevice they are talking about.
After stopping my calisthenics and facing forward again, I can see with my peripheral vision an index finger nail thrust forward, shaped like a pocket knife nail file that has hardened into amber for future archeologists to draw conclusions about our culture. The nail is set upon a finger the size of a processed cheese injected brat, that without benefit of the museum grade, acetone preserved cuticle, would punch 3 buttons at a time, set for 3 different radio stations.
I accept there may be inadvertent provocation on my part by what might appear as braggadocio. I wear the t-shirts of the many, many events of which I have conquered. Which are admittedly great achievements, but it is to save our resources that I wear them until they fall from my back. My employer is with me on this mission. I am considered in proper work attire as long as I put a tie around my neck or wear a vest over the t-shirt. I make use of the storage room to prevent cubicle sprawl, and sit at an abandoned desk.
I need one ear open to alert me to traffic situations, but I have a earbud in the other ear listening to a mash up of drum beats and animal sounds such as walrus grunts, and sea otter howls sprinkled with squirrel chattering I recorded in my backyard. When, not if the spirit strikes me, I will exit the main road and travel deserted trails until lack of food and dehydration produces hallucinations, not unlike a Sioux Vision Quest. I will then eat jerky with stream water purified by a trial run through my digestive system until I can regain a safe biking mindset and physicality. If you see me embarking on this trip feel free to join me, especially if you like watching old movies while side by side on an exercycle and at the same time enjoying sumptuous dining on vegan pizzas sans cheese, but keep the whole wheat infused crust coming.