That cigarette cost a shit-ton. Had to go to Paris to sneak it and the many, many others that accompanied it there. It’s been almost 20 years since I gave up being a serious smoker. I met a lot of great people bumming smokes in front of buildings, wherever. I miss the first smoke of the day and the last one of the evening. I miss staring into the dark through a curtain of smoke. But mostly it was the ceremony. Rolling ’em. Waving my hands around like a conductor.
It was a prop. I didn’t have to DO anything but light a cigarette and I could hang out my shingle, ready for biz.
Now I have to work. No props. Marriage is hard. Audiobooks are hard. Riding bikes is hard.
I’m not very good at any of them, but I try to put in the hours.
Some days it works out.
Today was not one of those days. At the end of this morning’s group ride, when the crazy fast, super-talented and genuinely warm folks stood around smiling and chatting, all I wanted was to slap their heads, then go stand outside a bar with a cigarette in my hand.
The nominal reason? I was behind someone being shelled on a hill. Not a terrible thing. Not her fault. Nothing to see. Move on. Problem was, the traffic was horrible, and the roads are worked over like Rocky in the final round with Apollo Creed. Only with no room to pass.
So I didn’t.
I didn’t wanna joust with door mirrors. And I didn’t wanna crowd riders. And I really, really didn’t wanna be on that fucking road. Which was too bad, ’cause it was mile 15 of 65.
So off came my head. I got dark inside. Cruising through NJ and NY as they flirted with spring, I was Pig Pen’s cloud – the Bhopal version.
There were a coupla regrouping moments, but I had nuttin’. There was no desire, no joy, and beneath all that frilly nonsense, no power. I was weirdly gutted. So where did the enervation come from? Hating the traffic? Getting dropped, 3x? Scraping the bottom of the chum bucket when I wanted the bottomless-well magic of a coupla weeks ago at MonsterCross?
All of the above, prolly. And something else I haven’t thought of yet, but someone else saw clearly, so I’ve got that to look forward to.
Not my finest day. But I’m a grownup. I should have managed it better. I didn’t. But fuck it, everything hurt and I was tired and I HATE road riding.
Thankfully Stacey Barbossa refused to stop being the most magnificently ebullient person I’ve ever met. She, Rich, Mark, Denise and Bladimir kept me from Kittle-ing. But only just.
I DON’T have to ride bikes. I could put all this shit on eBay, and be done with it in an afternoon. I keep not doing that. Time and time again, I’m horrible at it. And I keep on.
ˈpräp : something on which one leans or depends for support or strength
When I smoked, I was playing to the image I had in my head of me smoking. I liked that image. But I didn’t fill in the blanks. I spent a lot of time being an asshole because of that. I’m not blaming cigarettes. They were inevitable, given how much of a lazy fetus I was. Instead of John Lurie , I was Don Knotts.
Marriage, work, riding – these things are different. I can’t just stand around looking like I’ve got it together. I have to work at ’em all. And I’m not good at them. When catch my reflection in the mirrors or window nowadays, I mostly look like a goof. Like someone working.
It’s not quite as cool as I thought I was smoking, but, fuck it, it’s a work in progress.