Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Like riding a bike...

Actually, there was no "like" about it - after three long years in storage at the back of our garage, Geoffrey and I actually took our brand new bikes for a spin around the block on Sunday. When we first moved into our house, my mom agreed to get both of us new bikes, so we went all out and got outfitted with a six speed Huffy for me and a seven speed Eddie Bauer for Geoffrey. We also picked up bike chains, water bottles and helmets, though I grew up never wearing one. So on Sunday, we were cleaning out the garage and the weather had fiinally started to feel less humid, so we went around the block. There were quite a few false starts and stops - adjusting the height of the seat, tightening the handlebars, pumping air into the tires. It seems like ages since I felt the wind blowing past me and felt like I wanted to bike somewhere, anywhere.

When I was growing up, our house was on a cul de sac. There really weren't sidewalks, but the street was extra wide to allow for parked cars and, I suppose, us kids to play outside. Let me tell you, when you are one of two Catholic school kids on the block and no one really wants to play with you, riding around the block in an endless circle gets boring really quick. I wasn't a very athletic kid (can you tell by my comfy pillow-ness?) and my dad didn't really want us going out of the block without his permission, so I stayed indoors a lot. So much so that I didn't even know that the mall near my house used to be cool, with a GAP and other stores until it really began to die out, which it has verrrrrrry slooooooowly been doing since 1992 or 1993. But there was at least a Winkleman's and a Woolworth. Now Universal Mall just has a bunch of discount and craft stores and imported boutique stores in improvised store fronts. There is a 16 theatre dollar show, but it's decorated like a giant neon watermelon, so I woudn't say it adds class to the venture.

I used to work in Universal Mall, at a coffee shop where I met my good friend Sonia. I learned how to make espressos and cappucinos and iced mochas. There are many days where I miss the simplicity of that job. We didn't have tables or anything to clean up, and there wasn't a whole lot of prep work. It was a good time people watching and gossiping and OD'ing on coffee-flavoring syrups. There was also a brief stint selling novelties (meaning a LOT of those plastic little trolls) for a Hallmark store spin-off called "Today's Trends" or something like that. Since we got a discount for working there, I spent a lot of money on some fairly useless crap. I didn't manage to buy the "Where's Elvis?" glitter wand, though. Darn.

After that, I worked right next door in a Perfumania, where the goal was to earn a higher commission by trying to substitute name brands for perfumes and colognes that were in the same family. Not a bad gig, but I only sort of miss it. It was kinda fun, seeing the new merchandise and learning how to properly fold tissue for gift bags (the trick? find the center of the sheet and pull the ends out, like a large hankerchief. Stick the pointy end in the bag. Oh, and if you want to add another nice touch, staple a bow to the bag so it doesn't fall off). I was a "third key" which is a sort of third or fourth level assistant manager deal where I could open and close the store almost by myself. Heady times, I must say, or was that the fumes? Hahahaha.

Anyway, I didn't start working in the mall, which is literally across the street from my mom's subdivision, until I could drive myself there. It just wasn't an option to ride a bike there for some reason. And I had a couple of great bikes, too. The first one was sky blue with a banana seat (remember those? You could fit two people on them) and my mom won it for me selling gift wrap and stuff like that to her coworkers. You pedalled backwards to break. I was a bit of a late bloomer, and my parents worked opposite shifts, so there wasn't a whole lot of instruction on how to learn to ride the darn thing. I remember my dad helping me, and I remember very painfully scraping my toes on the pavement, and I eventually got the hang of it. I don't remember what happened to it, it probably went to a cousin when I moved up to a 10 speed. The problem with going from a banana seat to a 10 speed is that your butt is pretty sore after being on a 10 speed. Once I could drive, that was it for the bike. Even after spending almost $100 (which was a pretty big deal at the time) to get the bike tuned up and have the tires replaced.

I should also say that I get hopelessly lost at times, and this was the pre-cel phone era, so I guess it's understandable that I didn't want to go for a ride up to the store to then find myself out in another city or state. My other biking memory was renting bicycles on Mackinac Island and being able to go almost anywhere. It was as though we couldn't get lost (and we probably couldn't, there are two main paths around the island, as I recall).

So happily, I have mostly good memories of being on a bike and Sunday brought that back to me. Hopefully, it won't be another three years until I get that feeling back again.


1 comment:

FrankNemecek said...

Congrats on digging out the bikes. I should dig mine out, too.