#798: Lurch

June 2nd, 2017

There’s a point to the ride where you learn to hate doughnuts.

It’s not that you hate doughnuts, nor that you hate that there’s a doughnut shop right next to your office. And it’s not that it’s gotten to the point the guy with the short dreads at the doughnut shop always smiles when he sees you and asks you about your life in a way that lets you know he really cares.

It’s that you hate doughnuts and hate the shop and hate the guy with the dreadlocks who always wants to know how work’s going because your body is sloshing and lurching back and forth, your legs are made of fire and you still have like five more miles to home in a midnight ride on your bike.

I’m using a writer’s trick called “humor” here to make you picture the dad from Drabble when you picture me. I’m actually down about 10 pounds, although the guy at the doughnut shop is real and does ask why I don’t come by as much anymore.

The burny, noodle-y legs this morning are real as well, as was a midnight ride from downtown to Albany Park.

I had dropped off the carshare car from visiting a friend. It was the bar-time of River North, when the young and leggy and the old and wealthy come out to wander the streets between glossy trend restaurant and flatscreen-slathered sports bars. A few old mainstays – Rossi’s, Snicker’s, Mother Hubbard’s – look out on their new fabuloso competition, thanking the heavens they bought early into what would become a tacky display of people dropping dollars into what they think is class and wealth.

But beyond the land where waitresses’ uniforms are tight tank tops, I cruised on the bike. With blinking lights and clad in helmet, I blipped and beeped and wheezed through the night, through where commercial becomes residential becomes less-nice residential becomes another slip of trend and tank top becomes bungalow belt and a place that, for the moment, becomes home.

When I ride, I don’t think. I can’t. Thinking deep thoughts means getting hit by a pickup full of scrap metal. It’s the only moment of the day when the whirring of facts, figures, jokes and sentence structure that makes up my brain takes a rest for a moment.

I ride my bike because it rests me. I ride my bike because when I’m done my body screams for lean meat and vegetables rather than doughnut sprinkles and lethargy. I ride my bike because that lurching and wheezing and legburn at the beginning of the summer lessens as the days lean on. I ride my bike because it’s cheaper and fun and I don’t have to deal with local talk radio or telling a homeless guy sorry I don’t have any change.

I ride my bike because I’m me. And midnight racing of blinking lights and no thoughts other than the next turn are a part of me I never intend to lose.

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You are currently reading #798: Lurch by Paul Dailing at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

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