Christmas had finally come and I was relieved. After pouring a few mugs of steaming ponche, I got a raging fire going in our fireplace and we settled in to open our presents.
Vess had been sulking around for weeks, not at all being shy about her jealousy of my having a bike. Unbeknownst to Vess but knownst to you, Vess was about to receive a matching Huffy ladies’ cruiser that had been not so lovingly wedged and covered in our bedroom closet for the last month. Luckily, Vess only uses the closet in the second bedroom so the only difficulty in concealing the bike in such a tight space involved trying to figure out how to strategically hang my clothes around handlebars. I gave her a hastily wrapped bicycle bell instead of trying to wrap the bike and her face lit up. We were going riding!
After a few seat adjustments and attaching her bell featuring a girly pink design, it was time to hit the streets. It was a pleasant 66° F and due to everything being closed on Christmas, traffic was surprisingly light for a city of 1.5 million. Still, Vess was nervous about being on two wheels for the first time in over fifteen years so we went next door to use the thrift store parking lot to get acquainted. She was shaky, but managing. After a few minutes I was able to talk her into riding around the block. Everything going well, it was time to venture out further.
I took Vess on a tour of my new haunts. I pedaled by the park, the art store, the sausage shop, the long line of orange trees on Osborn, all the while being mindful to keep a leisurely pace so she could keep up and we could talk. Aside from running into a gravel bed due to trying to dodge a manhole cover, Vess was taking to her new wheels quite well. After getting back closer to home, we weren’t tired yet so we decided to ride by the myriad of antique shops on 7th avenue that the Melrose district has come to be known for.
About two hours into our ride, we took a left on West Camelback and started to notice the neighborhood getting a little seedy. We noticed something ahead blocking the sidewalk.
“What is that, a duffel bag?” Vess inquired, having left her glasses at home.
“No,” I corrected as we rode by, “it’s some dude unconscious on the sidewalk!”
We stopped a short distance from the motionless body.
Refusing to leave someone lying helpless on Christmas day, Vess questioned, “Should we ask if he needs help?”
“Probably,” I noticed all of the storefronts and billboards weren’t in English,”Should I ask him in Spanish?”
Luckily, while going through the Spanish conjugations of the word “help” in my mind, I noticed a cop heading our way, only he was in the middle lane. I flagged him to the side with flailing arms and pointed to the inanimate mound on the sidewalk. He lit up his roof and pulled aside. We could move on now with a clear conscience.
About a block later we stopped at a light, waiting for the “walk” symbol. The signal turning green, I started to cross as a woman began to pull up close to me in the cross walk. Her head was turned away, looking to see if it was clear for her to turn right on red and she was oblivious to any pedestrians trying to cross. Not being able to walk my bike backwards fast enough, I called out.
“Whoah! Whoah!!! WHOAH!!! STOP!!!!” I shouted, desperately not wanting to be the second body splayed across the sidewalk. Still her head remained turned and she slowly eased her car over the front of my bike. The loud crunch that was made by my tire wedging its way into her wheel well finally got her attention. I tugged at my handlebars, finally dislodging my bike.
“Oh my God! Are you ok?!” She hopped out of her car, frantic,”I saw you but I didn’t think you were crossing!”
I wondered why she thought we were waiting at a crossing signal.
“I’m fine, but your car is messed up.” I observed, astonished that in this fight between metal bike frame and fiberglass car panel, bike had won.
She didn’t even bother to walk over and assess her car damage, “I don’t care as long as you’re ok. Merry Christmas, I guess, huh?”
I assured her all was well and she got back in her car and drove away. I studied my bike as we rode on looking for bent spokes or wheel wobble and was relieved to find none.
“We can keep going straight, or we can turn left and circle back home.”
“Let’s head home,” Vess replied, “That’s enough excitement for one day!”
We finally made it back to the apartment and, after watching a few classic holiday movies, we began the Christmas dinner preparation. It turned out great. I won’t bore you with the details, but since this is sort of a food blog…
We stuffed ourselves silly and lay motionless in our post-gorging bliss.
Walking into the computer room later, I noticed something that wasn’t there before.
This seems to be a theme with me – same tire and everything. I laughed to myself. If all that a collision with a car got me was a flat tire and some black smudges, I was ok with that. Everyone should be so lucky. It was a pretty awesome Christmas.
Be safe everybody!