"As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect-like creature."
I don't want to spoil the ending, but Finny dies.
This morning, I woke up to a revelation a thousand times more horrible than any existentialist entomological crisis. See, as I slept, I had uneasy dreams of Fredness. Then, when I awoke, I realized that I had been losing precious wattage through inefficient power transfer.
Have you ever gone to a restaurant and ordered a meal, and then when the meal arrives you realize it sucks, but even though it sucks you eat every morsel and sop up all the remaining juices with a piece of bread and then finally lick the plate clean with the enthusiasm and relish of a cat cleaning its privates? Probably not. Nevertheless, this behavior is the essence of Fredness. Even though we suck, we labor under the delusion that we need to channel every bit of our pathetic power output and ungainly pedal stroke into the drivetrain of our overpriced bicycles in order to propel us to a rarefied realm of glory and achievement that exists only in our minds. And when it comes to this behavior, the equivalent of that piece of bread you use to sop up that lousy sauce is the $395 crabon insole, forwarded to me by a reader:
Actually, this insole is not the equivalent of the bread so much as it's the equivalent of paying a surcharge for an ultra-stiff table to help you consume your crappy meal more quickly and efficiently.
Let's just pretend for a moment that there aren't like 26 bones in the human foot, and that it doesn't move at all. Let's also pretend that you could get a shoe with an upper so stiff and with fasteners so tenacious that you could lock your totally rigid foot with its fused joints into position so firmly that it wouldn't flex so much as a fraction of a millimeter. Finally, let's pretend that this rigid foot scenario was actually desirable.
On top of this, since we're talking about Freds, we can already assume that the frame is crabon, and the crank is crabon, and the pedal is crabon, and the sole of the shoe is crabon.
Why, then, would you also need to slip in another layer of crabon in the form of this insole?
Well, because Freds live in a "bizzaro" version of "The Princess of the Pea," and any material even remotely yielding must be eliminated at all costs. (Apart from their own doughy physiques, of course.) This is why I know my new line of crabon socks is going to be a huge success:
(Crabon sock prototype: laterally stiff and vertically hobbled.)
Or, if you're a "weight weenie," you can just skip the socks and the shoes and opt instead for my crabon insole modification:
The ultra-high modulus crabon toe thong coupled with the three-hole cleat mounting platform transforms your crabon insole into the lightest, stiffest racing flip-flop available.
Of course, once you've eliminated all traces of flex from your Fred sled you're then ready to hit the park where you can ride around and around in circles while regaling other Freds with tales of your upgrades. Fortunately, if your park of choice is Brooklyn's Prospect Park, you'll be pleased to know that the Department of Transportation has finally removed the "Barrels of Shame:"
I mentioned the Barrels of Shame last month, but while they may be gone we're only free temporarily because it's only a matter of time before the DOT implements some sort of "Phase II:"
"City transportation officials removed dozens orange traffic barrels intended to slow cyclists on a crash-prone hill in Prospect Park — and now they want your advice on what to do next."
It's odd that the DOT is so concerned with cyclists in the park, yet I've never heard anybody complaining about the high number of cars that speed through it during car-free hours. For example, the park is closed to cars all weekend long, yet early Saturday morning I actually had to dodge a speeding car salmon. Of course, he had his hazard lights on, so that makes it OK. Actually, maybe that's the answer--hazard lights clearly legitimize every type of traffic infraction, so if we were to put them on our bicycles maybe we'd have total immunity too.
In any case if the DOT really wants suggestions for what to do about cyclists in the park, here's my idea:
Buy us off.
Sure, I can't speak for everybody, but for the low, low price of $100,000 from the City of New York I'd happily agree to never, ever ride my bicycle in Prospect Park again. Then, I'd take the money and invest in the Crabon Fred Miracle Dynamo Light, invented by acclaimed director Werner Herzog:
I don't know how it works since I'm not very knowledgeable about science, but my guess is that it's filled with tiny demons. Anyway, I'd be sure to make millions, and then I could buy and sell your measly little park like that. [Snaps fingers to indicate ease with which he could buy and sell park.]
In your face, DOT.
Speaking of entrepreneurial ideas, here in New York City it's fairly commonplace to receive deliveries by bicycle, but a reader informs me there are other parts of the country in which the concept of bicycle delivery is as mysterious as a light filled with tiny demons:
Consider the writer's amazement when a single human is able to carry three (3) whole bottles of wine while riding a bicycle:
I live on a cul-de-sac in downtown Raleigh, south of Oakwood. We're grateful the pizza man even remembers where we are. So it was with awe that I watched as a trim young man on a bike rode up to my front porch and pulled from his Swiss Army backpack three bottles of wine that I had selected online just an hour before.
She should go to Portland, where the sight of a soup delivery bike would probably melt her face:
By the way, if you're like a lot of people you probably have trouble keeping your chowders straight, so when you're ordering soup by bicycle in Portland try to remember:
--New England clam chowder is the white one;
--Manhattan clam chowder is the red one;
--Portland clam chowder is the one filled with tiny chunks of smugness.
Also, if it's your first time eating Portland clam chowder you should be very careful--those smugness chunks are a choking hazard.
But while it's oddly satisfying that people are amazed by the concept of bicycle delivery, I miss the days when the bicycle still had the power to terrify a team of horses:
("On Your Left," by Frederic Remington)
A reader tells me the above painting hangs in the Amon Carter museum in Fort Worth, Texas. Frankly, I'm not sure which is more amazing: that they actually have art museums in Fort Worth, Texas, or that people were once able to undertake "epic" bike rides without the aid of social networking or Kickstarter. Certainly that's not the case now, and here is his modern-day equivalent:
(Forwarded by yet another reader.)
But while cyclists may not scare horses now, they can make people drop their knitting needles:
Man on bike, cat on sidewalk. - w4m - 21
Date: 2012-02-24, 8:00PM EST
Reply to: [deleted]
I was walking. We made startled, awkward eye contact as I yelled after a tabby that had just run between my feet, "YOU, CAT ! ARE YOU MISSING?" I was trying to communicate with the tabby because, a block prior, I had witnessed a distressed youth hyperventilating before a LOST CAT sign posted to the trunk of a sycamore. You understand.
You: Were on a bike, waiting on a red light. You probably always wait at red lights. I like that. You looked like you have at least one toddler at home. You're one of those guys who has mastered the art of making "fuck me" eyes with strong undertones of "I'm taken and happy, so get lost" eyes. You were hot. Like, Billy Zane when he's wearing a wig, hot.
If you are this guy, a lost tabby, or some hyperventilating youth, hit me up. I'm a decent looking brunette, and I'm ready and willing to drop my knitting needles for the time it takes for dinner, a movie, and a good-night kiss on both cheeks.
Though they're not quite powerful enough to overcome sexual orientation, even when paired with exotic pants:
British gay dude on bike....commented on my pants - w4m - 28 (Manhattan)
Date: 2012-02-27, 12:13AM EST
Reply to: [deleted]
You commented on my bike gear, and considering the fact you were wearing shorts today, we need to have this conversation. My pants were Outlier (outlier.cc) and they're the best pants I've ever owned.
You're gay, so this is totally platonic, but I still want to chat with you! You got my number but I'm not sure if you got the right one, because you never texted me.
Your name was Alex (I think), you did some reporting for the BBC, we were going to chat about Occupy related stuff.....so get back at me!
I think someone may have given someone else a fake number.