We all long for something. I think it's safe to say that, no matter how free from petty concerns some of us may be, each one of us has some deeper desire that compels us forward. Gandhi longed for a free India; Levi longed to ride (until his site was taken down); and the owner of the "All You Haters Suck My Balls" wheel longs for all you haters to suck his balls. Even inanimate objects can long for other inanimate objects, as you can see from the above photo which depicts a Schwinn longing for a Vespa. I'm sure the Schwinn's owner also longs to move from one dandyish mode of urban transport to another. If you've ever purchased a new bike you know that moment of excitement and anticipation when you move your saddlebag from your old bike to the new one. I imagine the Schwinn-to-Vespa transfer would be similar, except instead of a saddlebag you'd move a loaf of French bread or something.
I too long for something, and that is a world without stupid behavior. And recently, I made an important discovery, which is that while you can't change the world you can change your own perception of it. Certainly I can't eradicate stupidity from the Earth (if only because that would also involve eradicating myself), but I can keep myself from getting angry about that stupidity. This realization in turn brought me to a revelation: Stupidity minus Anger equals Weirdness. In other words, when I observe something inexplicable and get angry about it, I've observed something stupid. But when I observe something inexplicable and don't get angry, I've simply observed something weird. And weirdness is much easier to live with than stupidity.
Take for example this taxi, which stopped abruptly in front of me in the bike lane this morning in order to pick up a fare:
I failed to capture the fare before she disappeared into the taxi, but I will say she was blonde and she had probably been waiting for a minivan taxi for some time, as it's one of the few hailable vehicles in the city that could have accommodated her girth. While you'll note that there is some room left in the bike lane for me to pass, there's also a truck directly in front of the taxi. However, instead of getting angry, squeezing through, and verbally attacking the driver, I chose to simply stop and observe. Sure enough, what might have otherwise stricken me as stupid (a taxi stopping directly in front of me to pick up a fare almost as large as itself) simply appeared weird.
The second shot I took as I passed reveals the extent of the weirdness, since as you can see there was plenty of room for the taxi driver to let me pass and then pull up alongside the curb. (Sure, he would have been blocking a fire hydrant, but even if a fire were to suddenly break out would the city really be worse off for the loss of a restaurant called "Nooch?") Weird, then, that he would instead speed past me and suddenly stop, as if his large fare might suddenly flee like a frightened mammal of the plains. In fact, when he stopped for her the urgency with which he did so made me think he was going to leap out of the taxi and apprehend her with a net. In any case, he didn't seem to mind my photographing him, and he even waved to me as he drove off:
What a freaking weirdo.
There was other weirdness as well. These days, aggressive urban riding is in vogue, and I attribute this to the spate of fixed-gear movies featuring people riding in traffic (such as MASH, Macaframa, and the upcoming Empire). It is now de rigeur to weave heedlessly through traffic, and apparently it is a forfeiture of your masculinity to stop at a red light under any circumstances. (Though apparently you can salvage a bit of it by at least doing a trackstand at the light.)
Unfortunately, while many of these riders have the look down they don't have the ability to match. Lately, I've been getting stuck behind riders who have misjudged the distance between cars and been forced to stop. (It's a sad sight, really--like watching a cat get its head caught in a shoe or something.) I've also been finding myself literally being circled at red lights, since the people who can't trackstand just ride around and around instead. (Imagine being circled by a shark, but the shark's riding a Pista, wearing a u-lock holster, and looks mildly afraid instead of coolly detached.) And just this morning, I was riding behind either a messenger or some approximation of a messenger whose riding style had all the trappings of the urban daredevil--except for the speed. He couldn't have been going more than a few miles an hour, but he weaved unecessarily between cars and even skitched off a barely-moving van for a few moments. I would have gladly let him ride away from me, but it would have impossible to do so without stopping altogether. After he let go of the van, he swung his arm around and around exactly like Pete Townshend banging out a power chord (I'm not sure if this was to warn me of his turn or to rub my nose in the fact that he had just performed the world's slowest skitch) and headed west on an eastbound street. It was like watching someone clear a hopscotch course and then give you the finger.
But when it comes to weirdness, nobody outdoes the Opinionated Cyclist. A polarizing figure in the cycling world, the OC has recently taken to talking almost exclusively about me. To be completely honest, I find this very disappointing as I feel it is a tremendous waste of his prodigious talent. However, I also acknowledge he does have some legitimate concerns:Now I'm not a journalist (this is a journalist), nor do I believe in patrolling comments, but I will go on record as saying that there's no evidence of which I'm aware that the OC has ever harmed a sex worker.
That said, in the spirit of the principles on which this great nation was founded (chief among those principles being the right of every American to purchase quality pre-built gazebos at discount prices) I refuse to censor comments. My advice to the OC is to ignore these groundless accusations. Better yet, instead of calling Jim (a.k.a. the Unholy Rouleur) "dumb," simply apply the "Stupidity minus Anger equals Weirdness" formula. If you don't get angry at Jim's comments you'll realize his claims are simply weird. And weird can even be funny. (If you're the sort of person who finds dead prostitute jokes funny, that is. And remember: this is America, and you're as free to choose which jokes to laugh at as you are free to choose which gazebo to buy.)
Rest assured, OC, I embrace you and all cyclists as my siblings. Truth be told, we're all a little weird in our own way.
Can I go back to bed now?