It’s time to polarize myself from my community again! Woo hoo!
My husband has not stopped reminding me that although I wrote about owning chickens last week, he still really wants some. I’m hoping to avoid granting this request, but when I look back at all the other things he has talked me into, I begin to hyperventilate. I will spare him some dignity by not listing that very L O N G list of things (some really good, others, really awful) and let him, perhaps, use it as fodder for his much-hyped ‘counter-blog’ : ) As I said to him the other day, in the most ridiculous white-girlish sounding way, “Bring it on!”
Today I had a few moments to consult my ‘what to blog about’ list and I decided to skip the original idea I had planned (I’m still not sure how my friends are reacting to me writing about stuff that they are into) and go for a topic that will not only include them, but seemingly, 99.9% of the Chico, CA population. That way, if I am indeed, offending people, I can at least tell them that it wasn’t just them this time. My husband has told me that I apologize too much in my blog, which may be true. But I guess it’s just my style. I have worked a great deal on my over-active apology gland when we were married early on, and I’d like to think I’ve moved on from that level of unbalance. (It was attached to the ‘everything-bad-must-be-somehow-my-fault’ falsehood that I kind of lived in for a while). Anywho…I love that he reads this darn thing, since he really doesn’t like to read things other than Motorcycle or Whiskey-themed magazines, so here’s a shout out to him, “Hey there! I like you a lot and wish you could read faster so we could go hang out or do something!”
It’s no secret that I am not a Chico-native, although I have lived here since August of 1997. From my freshman year at Chico State to today, I have been on the outside of a very popular trend, nay, some would say, LIFESTYLE, of this community. People, I’m talking about BIKE RIDING! Nope. NOT into it. In fact, it was seen as a pretty dorky mode of transportation when and where I grew up. Now Antelope Valley (Google it. It’s in So. Cal, but not near the beach where bikes would be accepted) readers who may be familiar with my bike riding childhood history may snicker and think, ‘Well, an aversion to bike riding? There’s no surprise there! We stood at the playground fence to laugh at you while you rode home from school while simultaneously singing the ‘Wicked-Witch-on-Her-Bike-in-the-Tornado’ theme song.’ And to them I reply, BITE ME! Well, actually, now I think it was a pretty funny idea for an elementary kid to come up with, and yes, my GIANT, green, garage-sale bike that my dad scored for ten bucks really did resemble that witch’s cruiser, but still…It kind of hurt my feelings, you big meanies! But if that wasn’t enough childhood bike-trauma to trigger my aversion, I am also reminded of the first day I learned how to ride a bicycle.
My awesome blue bike with the giant banana seat was probably one of the coolest bikes I ever got to own, but left its imprint on my across-the-street-neighbor’s car door panel as I navigated my first ‘all by myself’ left hand turn. Ssssscraaaaaaapppppe, then BOOM!, down I went on the pavement. My mom seems to remember more details of the story than I do: the screaming as the neighbor carried me inside my house, the huge gash on their brand new hatchback! I just remember being a mixture of emotions: freaked out that I would be in trouble, hurting since the road had cheese-grater-ed my knees and elbows and mad that my bike didn’t help me avoid the car in the first place. I mean, I was looking right at the little blue car, for Pete’s sake! (Now I know when you look at something, you head right for it; then I thought I keeping my eye on the big, parked thing in the road I needed avoid was a brilliant idea.) Zero points for bike riding.
You still with me, faithful blog-reader? Here’s another trip down memory lane for you: I can remember needing to ride my bike to school in Jr. High. Yep…you can see where this one is going.
NO ONE rode their bikes to my school, in fact, I don’t really remember anyone riding their bikes to actually go anywhere besides to a neighbor-friend’s down the street. In your neighborhood, yes; bikes were no big deal, but once you took them on the real road…now you’re talking crazy-idiot speak. Anyway, when your parents both work out of town and the state of California refuses to give a twelve year old a driver’s license, that’s when you resort to riding a bike, or walking, which is what I eventually did when I couldn’t bum a free ride from one of my friend’s moms. (Which I really appreciated, by the way!) My parents offered to buy me a ‘cool’ bike, which is how I came to be the proud owner of a fluorescent pink/orange bike with splatter paint detailing. This bike was in the hip new ‘mountain-bike’ style that seemed oh, so important when I thought about navigating the smoothly paved Avenue K. Luckily, this bike of mine was free of a giant ‘orange-you-glad-you-don’t-have-this-dorky-thing-on-your-bike’ flag that my previously mentioned Wicked Witch of the West contraption was tricked out with. My dad told me it was so they could see me when I rode around the neighborhood. I believed him, and never had the guts to take it off, even though it was incredibly embarrassing and created way too much drag when I tried to race anyone down the big ‘tree country hill’ that was just around the corner from my house. Anyway, I rode my fancy new neon bike to school a few times, and avoided any major accidents (of which I was also terrified), but to ensure my fragile sense of coolness, I always tried to get to school ahead of everybody, so no one would say, ‘Hey, Jenny. I saw you riding your bike to school.’ This phrase was enough to make my intestines knot, even though the speaker was usually just stating a fact, and not trying to make fun of me, I was unable to process the statement in a normal-human being way. Riding to school early may have helped me avoid the long line of cars and traffic, plus the chance that anyone could see me in all my bike-dorkiness, but it created a different problem. The high desert where I lived can get REALLY cold in the morning, and down-right frosty! I was rarely wearing the correct outdoor attire, since again, no one was at home to say that the thin, white windbreaker that I borrowed from my dad (who was a grown, full-size man and did not have the proportions of a small circus performer or twelve year old girl) was probably not the best winter-weather choice. I’m not saying my parents didn’t provide me with a jacket, I’m only stating that I was probably not smart enough to wear it because it either a) was warm but ugly or b) was already in the school’s lost and found, which no one would have the guts to sort through because it was down-right nasty and mildewy. Eeewww. So there I was, a frigid, awkward Jr. Higher who appeared to be a humpback, due to the lame ‘mountain bike’ style I had insisted upon, who was getting to school at least 30 minutes early to spare my coolness. Of course, when I arrived, the school doors were usually locked, or I resembled Jim Carey in “Dumb and Dumber” when he got off the scooter; bright red-faced with my nose so frozen, I couldn’t tell if it was running down my face. All in all…bike riding sucked.
So imagine my surprise when my seventeen-year-old self moved into the dorms at Chico State. Everyone’s parents were buying him or her the typical closet organizer, hot pot and bedding type of stuff, but here in Chico, parents were also getting their kids a new beach cruiser bike to help them get to class and around town. Now, I had my trusty Hyundai Sonata, so I knew I could get around town (to my college friend’s delight) and would be just fine walking the 300 yards or so to class. So when my mom and dad asked if I needed a bike, I was quick to change the subject to needing some more clothes or something that I would actually use. Everyone in Chico I knew had, and still has, a bike and actually rode it to do things. I could understand riding it in the park; there are some really cool places that have smooth asphalt and everything, but I just didn’t understand why they would ride their bike to the store or to the Thursday night Farmer’s Market, when they owned a car! What was I missing?
Fast forward 14 years and you have time traveled to the present day. (Did it make you nauseous? I always imagine it would. Oh wait; it’s just the length of this reminiscent blog post that’s giving you that bloody nose. Sorry!) Now with gas being $4.25/gallon and exercise being a necessity for this 31year old’s mother-of-two body, I get it. Did you hear me bike lovers? I GET IT! I understand riding your bike is good for you and ‘good for the environment’. (Remember when thinking about the environment meant occasionally saying, “Don’t litter because it makes our earth ugly.” I do. I miss those days.) I even own a bike now! It was a hand me down bike from my mom and is pretty sweet, as far as bicycles go. I have ridden it once, and it was with my 5 year old. I didn’t wear a helmet because I am vain. Now don’t go lecturing me about modeling good safety for my children or the importance of protecting my brains – I know, I know…it’s a better to idea to wear a helmet and look ridiculous than get myself splattered on the pavement. Sheesh, chill out! I have always worn a helmet when I scoot around on the Vespa and especially when I’m on my husband’s super fun V-MAX (which is a real motorcycle where you shift gears and everything, unlike our adorable, yet totally awesome, Vespa LX-150). Although I enjoyed the time with my son, I felt like the biggest dweeb in the world, with my wobbly wide turns and temptation to perform hand signals at intersections. I just don’t think biking will ever be for me. If I was at a resort, or on a beach boardwalk, it may feel natural, but I may just stick to my car while in the North State. (So-Cal friends: that’s what people up here call Northern California. Weird, huh? We would never have said the ‘South State’. That would sound dumb. But here it seems to totally work.)
Bike riding being cool? Yep…I struggle with that one. More power to those of you who faithfully don your helmet and cruise alone to actually complete an errand or something. Inside, do I kind of laugh at you? Well, it depends on your helmet, but probably not. I am usually just thinking about how happy I am to be inside my cozy vehicle.