Biking for Dummies, Part III

My wife looks better riding a bike than I do. It can’t be helped: she’s much prettier than I am (although I rate a close second), and between the two of us, I’d much rather creepily leer at her while she pedals than I would me.

Not one to let a soul-crushing thing such as losing a beauty contest get in my way, however, I fought back in the looks department by donning a new pair of gel-padded gloves. “They’ll help you rest your palms,” the salesman suggested.

I gave him a look.

“For biking, for biking!” he insisted. “You’re not buying them for any other reason, even if you’ve been married nigh over nine years, I’m sure.”


“Also,” the salesman hurried on, “they’re guaranteed to repel pirates and, every other Tuesday, lead you to a leprechaun’s pot o’ gold.” Every word, I believed it. Of course, the salesman was me as I talked myself into buying something on-line, but I’m very convincing when I try. I like to try to talk myself out of things, and some of the time I mostly win all of the time. (Nate Silver would be proud of that last sentence, I just know it.)

The gloves, they arrived and tonight I got the chance to finally wear them. There’s me, see?, pedaling down the driveway; there’s me, a stunning figure in repose (I don’t know what that word means; ignore it), gliding down the street in effortless motion; there’s me, miles away from my house, attacking a giant hill, grunting, screaming, yelling, tongue purple, eyes bulging black, cheeks… bright appleish, but calm, tranquil, serene on the inside because all those colors match well with the color of my–

Goddamn it, I forgot the stupid gloves.

Won’t stop me. Not me. Reality’s a loser today because my shirt has long sleeves and will wrap PERFECTLY around my naked hands to make my own pirate-repelling gloves. There’s no gel, but pay no mind; there’s no real range of movement what with the sleeves kinda mummifying my hands, but no huge concern; there’s no way to pull on the brakes because…

And that’s how my leg ended up all scraped to hell. In case anyone asks.

Biking for Dummies, Part II

My butt hasn’t quite forgiven me yet for the inaugural 30 mile ride the other day. While we’ve never been the closest of friends, my butt and I have largely shared a cordial relationship, with he doing the cushioning and the sitting, and I bravely contributing to, you know, clean-up. (It’s much like working at an assisted living facility, only my butt very rarely confuses me for his grandson.)

Lately, however, I can tell he’s still grumpy, sore even, that I didn’t ask for his permission for the last ride, and now we don’t talk as much. Still, seeing as how he’s the Australia of my body parts (that’s Down Under for butt), his accent was always pretty garbled, anyway. No big loss.

Lest you think I’m heartless (which is nowhere near my butt, no matter what the Insta-Princess insists when she’s angry at me), I did purchase a new bike seat for its comfort. It’s all sleek and gel-padded with grooves and stuff for my nether bits. It’s the Rolls Royce of seats for those of us who did two minutes of search on Amazon and said, “Hey, that looks kinda cheap–I’ll get that!”

The new seat should also help me go faster. (I don’t know if it does, but the seat looks cool, which is pretty much what any physicist worth his salt would insist is the primary ingredient needed for making things go fast.) Also, I slapped on a pair of new bar ends, which makes my bike look like it has devil horns. That’s me: riding through the suburban trail system, squashing bugs, scaring deer and looking like I’ve lashed myself to Pan.

My butt should be prouder than it is. My butt’s a spoiled lil’ ass.

Biking for Dummies, Part I

Math and I have an adversarial relationship. Math, for example, insists my time spent in Calc. II was a beleaguered, pathetic attempt at learning the difference between a parametric equation and a paratrooper. Math insists this was highlighted by me showing up to class with a sloppily packed parachute in hand. (Math’s a little bit of a gloating bastard and doesn’t often get invited over for word problems dealing with dinner.)

Math further annoys me by pointing out that, no, contrary to what I always say, I haven’t been on a bike in almost twelve years. I say a couple years, and wouldn’t I know since I’ve got three bikes hanging in my garage, so that’s gotta prove something.

Sorry. Two bikes. I miscounted. (It’s the stupid parachute. In poor lighting it LOOKS like a bike. I only keep it around in case I run into a pop quiz. [You never know.])

But, let’s forget about math. Let’s focus on the fact that today, the weather at a blissful 80-some degrees, called for me to get my twenty-some year-old Giant off the ceiling hooks and down to the ground. The chain is twenty years old, the brakes are twenty years old, the inner tube and tires are twenty years old and the calcified seat is twenty years old.

But it has a brand-spanking-new LED headlamp, so that’s how I knew it was ready for the road!

Me and Giant, we hit the Indian Creek Trail at 11:00 and didn’t find our way back until 2:00. That’s 30 miles of back-and-forth, my friends, and I don’t care what the other trail riders were pointing and laughing about, not ALL of the miles were due to me getting lost. A lot of them were due to me getting WILDLY lost, and a handful of them were because quite a few parents chased me from the attached various parks and playgrounds as I lumbered up to them to beg and plead for someone to kill me because, Schwinn, the Greek God of biking refused to help me out.

I also asked for a ride home, but they were pretty unreceptive to that, too. Next time, I start with that as my lead request. I might get better responses.

Brian Fyffe, a seasoned bike master, joined me for the last half of the journey home, and from him I only rarely saw wide-eyed looks of pity. (Most looks of his were of concern, peppered with questions like, “Why are you riding like that? Are you sick? Is it catching? Are you deformed? You look deformed. Is THAT catching?”)

Thankfully, Brian was able to help me figure out a way back home when he threw out a few helpful hints dealing with parametric equations and curves. Turns out, for that last part, he was talking about a cute woman he saw jogging on the trail, but I followed her home anyway and called it quits.

So, that was okay.

The One Where I Couldn’t Marry My Wife

I’m not a Democrat, although I tend to side with them on their social platforms more often than not.  I’m definitely not a Republican, although counting back thirty years or so I could see why moderates were attracted to some of its planks.  Call it laziness, call it a fear of commitment, call it an unwillingness to give up sleeping with either babe, but I’m pretty much an avowed Independent.  I don’t relish the labels and prefer to find the reasonable, sane center of either the Left or the Right.  If I can find it, that is, but it’s pretty tough these days.

That said, while I understand a lot of GOPers are not one-issue voters, I cannot fathom why  Log Cabin Republicans are, well… Republicans.  Here, for example, is what their executive director said about the President’s announcement that he supports gay marriage:

“That the president has chosen today, when LGBT Americans are mourning the passage of Amendment One, to finally speak up for marriage equality is offensive and callous,” said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans executive director. “Log Cabin Republicans appreciate that President Obama has finally come in line with leaders like Vice President Dick Cheney on this issue, but LGBT Americans are right to be angry that this calculated announcement comes too late to be of any use to the people of North Carolina, or any of the other states that have addressed this issue on his watch. This administration has manipulated LGBT families for political gain as much as anybody, and after his campaign’s ridiculous contortions to deny support for marriage equality this week he does not deserve praise for an announcement that comes a day late and a dollar short.”

And you know?  He’s right.  It was a political move by Obama.  Anyone who’s been paying attention these past four years knows Obama supports gay marriage, and anyone with half a mind understands that he couldn’t have been elected four years ago if he openly supported it.  For the record, I don’t agree with Obama’s compromise; I think he should have committed himself to civil rights from the get-go.  I understand why he didn’t, and I appreciate the progress his administration has made toward marriage equality, but this is one viewpoint that I don’t think should be compromised–even if it costs an election.

Still, despite my misgivings over how Obama’s handled gay marriage, I just truly don’t understand why Log Cabin Republicans stick with the GOP.  The simple truth is that the GOP, by action and word, absolutely despises them.  They truly hate gays.  We’re not talking simple political expediency here, we’re talking out-and-out bigotry that shows little  sign (almost invisible) of letting up any time soon.

The Republicans kill equal marriage bills, add amendments denying even civil marriage; they refuse to protect gays in matters of work and housing; they push unscientific and dangerous “therapies” to convert TEH GAYZ into repressed and suicidal faux-straights; they encourage and relish in religious bigotry; they truly, truly dislike Log Cabin Republicans.

It’s not a one-issue deal, here.  It’s THE issue.  I’m not defined by my sexuality, but it is a part of my make up and it’s an essential part of who I am.  Were the tables turned and straights discriminated against, I would not suck at the teat of the very group that hates me so.  Whether pride, stubbornness or just one small iota of self-respect, I’d rather go it alone, unwilling to bend knee to a party who tells me each and every way it cannot stand me.

A quick forty-five years ago it would have been illegal in some states for me to marry my wife.  (Neither of us is that old, by the way, not even close… with varying definitions of “close”.)  Thankfully, cooler heads on the Supreme Court (who, up to that point as a historical body, had badly mangled the outcomes of anti-miscegenation cases) prevailed and in Loving v. Virginia struck down all the remaining bigoted laws denying marital rights to couples of mixed race.  Had that not happened, I wouldn’t be married to the beautiful Insta-Princess, and we wouldn’t have our outrageously awesome son, Evil Holland.

I certainly would never join the political group responsible for keeping us apart.  I would have fought separately, independently, and unwaveringly, and afterward I would have kicked the bigoted party in the tooth. (Not really about the tooth thing.  But it’s fun to say.  Ask my wife.  I stole it from her.)

I have little doubt that gay marriage will eventually be the law of the land, and I would be surprised if the Supreme Court wasn’t the trolley ride we hopped on to make it happen all across the nation.  There will be bumps and bruises; and we will see the ugliest side yet to come from the social conservatives, but it will happen.  And I will gleefully celebrate and proudly tell Evil Holland that, yes, this is what it’s like when a country does it right, and to remember this day because one less form of bigotry is allowed to flourish in our political system.

And then I’ll go pee.  Because, man, turns out your body pees a lot when you exercise each day.



Evil Rosebud

We didn’t have a lot of names kicking around right before our son was born, so by the time the little bugger was ready to roll out on a red carpet of slimy stuff–an official medical term, mind you–my wife and I had about two choices remaining.  We had an earlier preference for a third name, but one of our friends stole it for her child, so we could no longer make use of ‘Oscar’.  Not the fish, not the grouch, not the Goldman (who built the Six Million Dollar Man–keep up with me, folks), nada.  I’m sure Emily Post has opined about it, but I’m guessing it’s considered rude to use the name of an immediate friend’s child.  Or to steal that same child so you don’t have to go to the hassle of making one yourself.  Whatever; Emily’s old and useless and probably dead.  But she died politely, so that’s okay.

So, two choices left, and one of them was ‘Rosebud’.  Except it wasn’t, but having grown up watching The Dick Van Dyke show, the possibility of transforming “Robert Oscar Sam Edward Benjamin Ulysses David” into one super giant robot name sounded familiar and comfortable.  We’d have to deal with the usual Citizen Kane jokes and the not-so-sly anal references, but who doesn’t have to shrug off butt comments on a day-to-day basis?

Down to two names.  The first was ‘Holland’.   Like the region in the Netherlands, you ask? (As if you didn’t just look that up in Wikipedia.)  No, not like that at all.  More like the evil middle management lawyer guy in Angel, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer spin-off.

Bear with me.

Much as we enjoyed the general creepiness effectively shown by the actor who played Evil Holland, we weren’t exactly inspired by him so much as it sounded like a pretty cool name.  Which isn’t to say that we wouldn’t be supportive of our son if he grew up and turned out to work in a law firm acting as a front for all things demony and unholy; we’d just prefer our son be a nice C.P.A. or a bottle cap collector.  You know, someone who wouldn’t necessarily work toward an ultimate apocalypse, but maybe some who could make a tidy profit if an apocalypse showed up.

My wife, peacefully circling in a lazy river of hospital baby drugs, left the decision up to me.  Either ‘Holland’ or that second, last name.  Eventually our son’s head is crowning, he’s clawing his way out, we’re cutting things and pinching things and I’m recording things and people are wiping things and before you know it (but I do know, ’cause I recorded it), one of us is holding a child and some faceless hospital automaton is asking me what our son’s name is.

I didn’t go with Holland.  I couldn’t do it.  I wanted to do it, and I wanted to be able to say his name without thinking of the evil lawyer guy, but I knew it’d be difficult for me to separate the two and soon I’d be buying him a nice swiveling leather chair, his first suit, a baby’s guide to bringing to fruition the end of the world; and I know that I’d subtly, at first, be nudging him to evil and then, poof! (or Arrrgh!, which is evil for poof!), I wouldn’t be so subtle anymore and I’d be grounding him for not going out to slaughter all the neighborhood cats.

I just want him to be all that he can be.  That’s all.

Thus, he’s not a Holland.  He has a different name, and it’s not all that evil.  Kinda nice, in fact; a little old-fashioned, but it doesn’t bring to mind ponds of blood and lakes of… well, more blood.

Secretly, though?  He will always be “Evil Holland” to me.

Apparently, I’m Not The Worst Father

Sean Harris is an idiot.

How’s that for the first line of the first post for this blog?

As I’m sure you’ve read by now, Sean Harris is a Baptist pastor over yonder in Fayetteville, N.C. whose most famous (and recent) sermon describes how fathers should punch their sons should they show any signs of “effeminate” behavior.  Think I’m kidding?

“Dads, the second you see that son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give them a good punch. OK?”

Not content to pick on just one gender, though, he also went after the girls:

The sermon saw Harris urge parents of girls who are “acting too butch” to make them “walk like a girl and talk like a girl, and smell like a girl.”

So, let me repeat: Sean, you’re an idiot.  You’re also a bad father and, while I’m pretty confident–based on reading your parishioners’ recorded responses to what you said–your feelings are accepted lingua franca in your church, you’re also a terrible pastor.

I accept that I’m a flawed dad.  I recognize that I’m grumpy and impatient; that I’m a little too willing to allow my son to take a break from the dining room and give his (and my) attention to the TV during dinner; and that, now that Spring weather has arrived for its short, short stay, I don’t drag him outside enough to take advantage of it.

But I will never hurt my son, insult him, or make him feel even a little bad for being “effeminate” (whatever that means).  Never mind that I already take issue with defining our sons and daughters by flimsy and vague (not to mention belittling) gender roles, but whittling my son’s spirit down to a nub because he’s not following what’s considered a traditional male path?  Never.

If my son evinces characteristics most often associated with girls, so what?  Who cares?  First, there’s nothing wrong with having those characteristics, and second, my job as a parent is to support him; to teach him kindness and respect; to show him how to be strong and independent; to guide him as a critical thinker so that he can make informed decisions and accept and adapt when he’s wrong; and to both show him love and teach him empathy.

He can end up gay, he can end up straight; he could end up entirely alone because he feels that’s what’s good for him.  And I will love him fiercely. Proudly.  And happily. Because he’s my son and I want him to live life not as a good man, but as a good person.

I’ll stumble along the way, but I’ll learn to be a better father.  I just take comfort now in knowing that I will never be like Sean Harris.

Limping at 9PM, Part II

Dear Internet Lawyer Pals: You’re not my lawyer, I’m not your client, you don’t have a license in my jurisdiction, you’ve probably never heard of my jurisdiction, Fax mentis incendium gloria cultum, et cetera, et cetera… (Memo bis punitor delicatum!)

I’d like to sue my left knee. For treachery. For pain. For suffering. For leaving me over a mile away from home, limping, caught in the rain, and totally without an umbrella. (It was his night to bring it. My right knee brought chopsticks just like it agreed to do.)

My left knee hurt me, and now I’d like to hurt it right back. Left back. Whatever. Is there precedent for this? If my knee refuses to hold me up, do I lack standing? Can I sue for damages from it being a knee-jerk? Most importantly, if we dig up the corpse of Learned Hand to officiate, will he be biased?

Thank you. If you need to contact me, I’ll be over here in the corner crying. Manly crying, with tears made out of arsenic and fire, but crying.

Running at 9 PM, Part I

There are dangers embracing a moonlit run that don’t exist with a pre-sun early morning jog. Namely, people. That is, where 5 AM was a game of solitaire, 9 PM is Texas Hold ‘Em. Except, I don’t know how to play Texas Hold ‘Em, no one invites me to their silly games, anyway, and I’m not at all bitter about this stupid, stupid simile, so shut up.

All I’m saying is that when “Oh, Sherrie” accidentally (!) stumbles its way onto your MP3 player, you can’t just start belting it aloud at 9 PM because you might have an audience. An audience who DOESN’T appreciate your spot-on Steve Perry impression, mind you, and they yell “What?” at you as you sing-a-jog by.

“Our love holds on,” I answer back, which is a total lie because I was raised a weekend Catholic and I grew up thinking Steve sang “Our love hosann”–a shortened “hosanna”.

So, anyway, my runs are holy. I’m pretty sure that’s what this update boils down to.

Running at 5, Part IV

There’s a lot to say, but I’ll be upfront since all 223 of you are my closest friends, ever. This isn’t easy, but 5 AM and I are going through a trial separation.

Wait, wait! I know. “But you’re so good together!” We are, and I’ll never forget the way 5 AM and I met: A sleepless night, a new pair of shoes, no one around but the two of us. Call it fate, call it kismet, call it insanity… we just hooked up.

It’s my fault, really; I’ve grown inattentive: today I ignored 5 AM, and when I finally went over to 5 AM’s place, I saw that 5 AM had moved on without me. There were tears (there were always tears; I cried a lot during the relationship), maybe an accusation or two, but I feel it’s for the best. Plus, my visits with 5 kept interfering with the Insta-Princess‘ rendezvous with 5’s younger brother, 5:30.

Don’t worry. I’ll be fine. I’ll move on. Why, just last night I saw this hot little number outside. Called herself “9 PM”. And maybe 9 PM looks a little like 5 AM, but they’re different.

I promise.

Running at 5 AM, Part III

I did some (not quite academic quality) research on the Internet, and it turns out that 5:00 AM was totally invented by Hitler. With an assist by Charles Manson. I’m no longer sure I can support 5 AM and enthusiastically suspect that it will soon be tried for war crimes.