Sunday, January 30, 2005

CCM/Bike Winter Benefit

A fine Bike weekend was experienced. Friday was the Critical Mass Polka ride--ending at Lincoln Square Lanes. Estimates were 150-200 riders.

The Mass was pretty slow, so my feet were damn cold by the time it ended. Polka dancing is basically jumping though, so my feet quickly transitioned from blocks of ice to sweltering. I also bowled one of the worst games of my life--my excuse is that I was only wearing socks (the same crayola yello/red/blue/green toe socks I wore in court earlier that morning--tehehe) and was worried about falling flat on my ass.

One thing that has happened recently is that I feel like I am becoming one of the important figures in the Chicago bike community. I know a ton of people and many of the people I consider to be the movers and shakers I feel are also becoming friends. Additionally, my opinions and suggestions seem to carry much more weight than they did before. I think the lawyer status plays into this--regardless, I feel very welcome in this community. Up until joining this group there were very few times in my life that I felt completely accepted: summer between high school and college, tire warehouse days and spring break of my final year of law school. That's it--less than a year of my life I have felt socially comfortable in my skin. The Chicago bike community feels like a long-awaited hug. Birds of a feather and oddballs who pedal.

I spent most of Saturday cleaning, shopping and preparing for the party. The grocery and liquor stores were packed with other errand-runners. I wish the clerks would really listen to me when I tell them that I have my own bag. Too often they ignore me or seem to think I mean 'please put two items in each panier and then start using plastic bags' or 'please put my vegetables inside bags to put inside my paniers.' Incomprehensibly, what I really mean is 'don't use any bags but the ones I gave you.' So I usually end up packing the bags myself because the packers don't have my ability to cram as much mass as possible into each bag. Thank you Kiel Food Mart for teaching me to master the grocery jigsaw puzzle.

[Free tip for other shop-by-bikers: don't underestimate what your water cage can hold--celery fits quite nicely, as do certain sweet potatoes and squash. Keep this in mind during selection when bag capacity is at issue.]

Another gripe I have with the clerks is their inability to deduce that I rode my bicycle. When I explained that I didn't want additional bags hanging from my handlebars one clerk exclaimed, "you ride your bike in this weather!?!" Sunny, clear roads--above freezing-- Oh the horror. I think her first clue should have been that I WAS WEARING A BIKE HELMET! Did she think I needed protection from grocery-related head injuries? Or did she think I was making a fashion statement? It isn't a huge leap of logic to conclude that I wore a BIKE helmet because I rode my BIKE. The only plausible excuse I can think of is the hipsters' fashion choices. My neighborhood suffers from a hipster infestation and maybe this has caused people to conclude that any unusual clothing/gear choice is the uniform of the attention-seeking, ironic-loving hipster maggots. Or maybe she was just dumb.

Anyway, the party was fun and successful--but it was a repeat of the loaves and fishes story. Except I have a plentitude of booze, cheese and crackers. The hard liquor doubled as did the beer. I think the wine stayed in equilibrium. When people wanted to go to the benefit concert I assured them that I would follow after doing perishable food clean-up. The older dog-woman stayed behind to help.

I have decided to try to control my annoyance regarding this woman. She is the type of person that I have the hardest time dealing with: annoying, oblivious--but nice and basically good. So I have challenged myself to not let her bother me. I thought I was doing a good job until we went outside. She decided to ride with me. Fine. No big deal. It's only five blocks away. She asked me upstairs if I would be cold riding over there in my skirt, fishnets and boots. "No, it's only five blocks. Well, actually yes--but I won't be outside long enough for it to matter." Our bikes were parked on the same rack and I was ready to go in about 30 seconds. She took approximately (not exagerrating) seven minutes to put on her gloves, unlock her bike, adjust her mirrors, dawdle, dawdle dawdle. She was completely oblivious to the fact that I was getting cold as she slowly got everything in order. In order to stay together I missed several stop lights all the while gritting my teeth and trying to be good.

Once again, there was no reason why this happened besides her being oblivious. I know she thought she was being nice by helping me put cheeses away--but she doesn't know my apartment so her help didn't really save any time. After 'helping' me, it would have been rude for me to ride up ahead. I need to learn ways to avoid this type of situation in the future. Unfortunately, I just know that she believes she is solidifying her friendship with me everytime we interact. I need to find a way to politely clue her in that I will never be the daughter she never had.

The benefit concert was fun. I spent most of the night talking with Ethan, who arrived sans Imaginary Girlfriend. We had several great conversations about CBF and some of our concerns about the organization. He has a job interview there on Friday for a marketing position. I am totally psyched and hope he gets the job. It sounds like the weirdness with his imaginary girlfriend has mostly blown over, and hopefully will be resolved shortly. Good for him.

[One last note about parties: I will strive to make my party leftovers more breakfast-compatible. Peppers, mushroom, tomatoes for hummus dipping instead of carrots and cucumbers. From now on cruddites must be able to double as omelet/frittatta veggies.]

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