*[This is where you tell me to get a recumbent, causing me to vomit.]
Scarier still is that the pernicious effects of years of cycling don't stop with the body, and it can also atrophy the brain. Remember the cyclist in "Triplets of Belleville," a pair of quads with an extraneous Gumbylike body attached?
Well, the same thing can happen to your mind, and I'm here to tell you it's happened to me. I've been a messenger. I've been a racer. I've been a commuter. I know how to get around the city on a bike. Take that bike away though and I'm a rube, as hapless as a tourist. This is because my bikeless decision-making skills have withered through years of disuse, which I finally faced yesterday when I had an appointment in Manhattan, ventured there without a bike, and kept getting hit with the "stupid tax."
While my new mansion is quite convenient to the subway, once in awhile I like to "class it up" by taking a shower and riding the Metro North commuter train. Unfortunately, it turns out that when you take me off a bike and put me on rails I turn into an idiot. Arriving in Grand Central, I thought "I should pick up a Metro North bike permit," which I did. After purchasing it, I discovered that the Long Island Rail Road bike permit I already had is good for the Metro North too, and indeed they're the exact same permit, and in fact my LIRR permit says "Metro North" on it in really big letters, which I noticed when I put my new Metro North pass in my wallet and there was one exactly like it already there. So essentially, I paid a stupid tax of five dollars.
Stupid Tax #1: $5
[I'm actually into the MTA for at least $15 in bike passes at this point, since I ripped up my last LIRR bike permit and threw it in a fit of pique when a conductor tossed me off the train somewhere around Hampton Bays for bringing a bicycle on a peak train. I was too angry to think about it at the time, but it was obviously my fault for boarding the wrong train, and as I showered the train car with confetti I probably looked like a more Fredly Rip Taylor. However, that loss happened in a different fiscal year so it doesn't count.]
Next, I went somewhere to do some stuff before my appointment, and then I got caught up in that stuff and realized I was going to be late for my appointment, and because I was running late and I'm a member of the 1% I said "fuck it" and hailed a taxicab, and then I got in the taxicab and told the driver where to go, and then I got wrapped up in a phone call like a douchebag, and then we got to my destination, I got out, and the driver pulled away, at which point I realized I had given him the wrong intersection and was now over four crosstown blocks away from where I needed to be--nearly as far, in fact, as I had been when I hailed the taxicab in the first place, rendering the entire ride moot.
Stupid Tax #2: $7
By the way, I realize what that sounds like, but my appointment was not at a questionable massage parlor.
After my appointment, I bought lunch, and only after opening and drinking from my Snapple did I realize I had bought the diet by accident. Disgusting. I don't even know how much the Snapple cost because I'm a member of the 1% and don't pay attention to that stuff, but it was midtown so let's just say it was $1.75--and I'm not the kind of person who tops a Snapple back up with water, pretends never to have opened it, and asks to exchange it.
Stupid Tax #3: $1.75
Sure, you might argue I'd have paid that stupid tax whether I rode or I didn't, but I suspect the reason for the error was that I'd already been rattled by my previous errors and that my judgment was impaired.
TOTAL STUPID TAX: $13.75
Sure, that may not sound like a lot, but over time it starts to add up. Also, that doesn't even factor in train fare, or all the other stupid taxes I pay without even realizing it because I'm too stupid to notice. Essentially, it cost me at least $26 not to ride my bike yesterday, and I'm deeply unsettled by the fact that without a bicycle I'm merely a moronic crab that constantly leaks small amounts of money.
Then again, when I was younger I paid stupid tax even for riding a bicycle. For example, I actually bought a pair of Ksyriums when they first came out. They cost me pretty much all the money I had, and I think they lasted about a year. Plus, I'm saving a huge amount of stupid tax by no longer living in Brooklyn, where the marginal stupid tax rate is something like 75%. (Coming soon: luxury condos on the Gowanus! Watch dolphins die from your Juliet balcony!) So I guess stupid tax is all relative. In any case, as a card-carrying member of the 1% (my card is a million dollar bill), I blame Obama.
Speaking of shakedowns, various non-ironic cyclocross world championship races are taking place in Louisville through the weekend, and apparently USA Cycling is requiring pit volunteers for the masters racers to buy $60 racing licenses:
I'm not really up on the rules so I have no idea if this the way it's always been. I did check both the USA Cycling and UCI rulebooks, and I didn't find anything on the subject in the 45 seconds before I fell asleep. Nevertheless, I'm not sure why you need a USA Cycling license to hand somebody a bike, though maybe the plan is to subject the pit crew to doping tests, which would probably result in a lot of suspensions. I did find this in the USA Cycling rulebook, though:
1E3. Road Downgrades
(a) A rider who wishes to downgrade may request a
downgrade online. Such requests will be evaluated
(b) In no case will a rider be allowed to downgrade to
That is really going to put a damper on my racing plans for 2014, which I've already dubbed "Operation Sandbag." I guess my only alternative at this point is to establish another identity complete with social security number, passport, and so forth, and use that to get a Cat 5 license. Then again, there's always the ultimate downgrade, which is Cat 6 racing, and USA Cycling doesn't require a license for that...yet.
Actually, if you think about it, USA Cycling has a lot in common with the Hasidic Modesty Squads of Brooklyn, in that both shake down insular groups of people who wear strange clothes:
The Brooklyn shopkeeper was already home for the night when her phone rang: a man who said he was from a neighborhood “modesty committee” was concerned that the mannequins in her store’s window, used to display women’s clothing, might inadvertently arouse passing men and boys.
I don't have to tell you what a turn-on mannequins clad in long, drab clothing can be, which is why you'll often find large groups of men and boys pleasuring themselves in front of these sorts of storefronts. Yes, things can get pretty steamy in the Hasidic part of town:
But many Hasidim say they have seen or heard how a shadowy group of men seeks to pressure parents to rein in children who wear dresses too short or stockings too thin, or who chat on cellphones with friends of the opposite sex. One family reported being harassed because the wife had stepped outdoors with a robelike housecoat rather than a long dress.
I'll never forget the day Mrs. Margolis stepped outside in her robelike housecoat. It was easily the most erotic experience of my life. Just thinking about what lay beneath that housecoat (specifically, a body that had squeezed out eleven children) still makes my payos stand on end.
By the way, like the Hasidim, I also deny that I am part of this so-called "squad of enforcers:"
But Hasidim interviewed said squads of enforcers did exist in wildcat form.
Though I do think Modesty Squad would be a good name for one of those '80s-style ska/hardcore bands. They could open for Operation Sandbag. I'd imagine more people would go see that show than will watch the Tour de France this year. Really, given all the controversy I'm surprised the organizers haven't just given up at this point. It's clear from the promotional materials that they're just phoning it in anyway:
Sadly they've been forced to resort to stock photography since there's not a single Tour de France rider who hasn't been implicated in a drug scandal.
Lastly, yesterday I was also talking about the apocalypse, and I'm pleased to report I recently received a promotional email from a company that's already betting we're going to revert to the barter system:
I’m thrilled to be letting you know we're actually launching TIMEREPUBLIK, the first online, non-monetary based community where people exchange services, each offering his or her own skills in exchange for time you can use to get something else done.
Before the Internet, that was called "family and friends."