Sunday, January 20, 2013


in my line of work, there is a list of 'overall expectations' outlined at the onset of any interaction. and then we get a set period of time to make sure that all participants are able to exhibit skills and knowledge that meet those expectations.

for some reason, people seem to have unrealistic expectations of the wrong kind, of the wrong people.

when i was better disciplined at riding a bike, and i was much slower and infrequently a runner, i used to ritualize my time in the kitchen. i would do the dishes so that i didn't have to look at them while i suffered enough as it was. i would clear the counter so that i could put my laptop in front of me in hopes of staving off the boredom. and on that laptop, i would play movies of people riding bikes faster than i ever will. those movies would remind me to go fast. and usually, i would have headphones in, with some kind of music rattling through my mind instead of race coverage in flemish or whatever. one of my favorite movies was lance big six.

i used to love the panache that lance brought to his riding. when i was younger, i had no idea that it had to do with drugs, that it could even be through anything other than all the training and pain i was too afraid to execute. i just thought he was an absolutely amazing rider doing amazing things and it was really fun to be proud of an american doing something i loved to do, and doing it better than the whole wide world. (being american was a hard thing for a lot of my younger days, surrounded as i was by prejudice and small-town mentalities amid chip trucks and ski-doos.)

as i got older, i realized that lance was likely doing a bunch of drugs. he was likely doing the same drugs as everyone else next to whom he was riding, so even though it wasn't just pure hard work and genetic gift, it wasn't like he was racing people who were any different in the drug sense. he was a race horse among race horses, and he was still the best one.

these days, i wonder what it is with all of the lance disappointment. anyone who was into bikes at all already knew/figured/had to admit that lance had probably doped. anyone who grew up and got his/her heart broken, saw a rock star get fat, stopped believing in santa claus, or went to a funeral would share the same mindset. folks, the world is full of humans, and we are flawed, and we are unrealistic, and we love to create myths and burn them down.

i just don't understand why the expectations for lance were different.

yeah, the guy seems like a hypocrite for lying so vehemently and specifically destroying people he knew to be truth-tellers and leading a cause about cancer and basing parts of his character on things he thought to be righteous and holy. but, so what? what do the kardashians think? what about people who have actually done truly bad things to entire national economies? where is bernie madoff? speaking of people who effected massive change in drastically horrible ways, whether celebrity or idol or whatever, how many people felt ripped off by the honesty of (insert name of your preferred war crimes leader here)? why does the sports world purport to be so fed up or put off or tired of or shocked by the admissions of a formerly-great athlete who cheated among a culture and a roster of cheaters? what were the overall expectations?

when i watch things on tv, i expect that they are heavily filtered. there are theatrics in every type of medium (production, is, after all, what makes something available to an audience from an author), and as cognizant adults in a reality of mass participation, we should understand that we are being fed all kinds of stuff, much of it crap. the question is what we make of what we get.

so i watched lance do those things on his bike. he accelerated away from the front of the field and never got caught. he said obnoxious things and backed them up with stomping wins up mountains too steep for cars. i watched fans scream and cheer and get in his way and clap him on the back. i watched him win and win and win. he loved winning. and, as someone who has never won a damn thing, i made a lot for myself out of what i got, watching him win. i made inspirational scenarios in my head to get me through those last few minutes on the trainer. i made better comebacks for any excuse as to why i didn't have to train that day. i made anger turn into power. and i did this watching lance.

i was surprised to hear about lance's interview, and that he admitted to his doping past, but i wasn't devastated. i cared a little more than the headline about the kardashian baby dramas, but not as much as this cool new app for my daughter's typing skills. i expect that famous people are flawed and crazy and mean to other people and subject to the whims and sway of much larger bodies of opinion than i will ever know. i expect that we, as adults, already know this and aren't hold our collective breath for the next round of admissions of faults inherent to our superstars. nobody died. maybe we should remember what's important here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

And the moral is...

Don't be a dick.

No, we are not mincing words here. The moral of the story really is: Don't be a dick. Don't be an asshole. Do not, in any uncertain terms, make your time on this earth a detriment to the rest of us who have to suffer through our time here. Honestly, man, there's so much else out there.

Of course, I was riding my bike. I wasn't even flying along. I was steadily making my way, within all speed limits imposed on users of a multi-use path, to the place where I live, in order that I might pick up my offspring along the way. They are the best part of my day. And the other best part of that day is the quick ride to pick them up; it's like riding a bike towards Christmas.

And it's terrible when you get in my damn way.

I postulated some time ago on the correlation between wearing khakis while riding and motorists being much more considerate. Seems all that considerateness has been exhausted and all that's left are the trembling tendrils of knee-jerk-reaction nerves. No one's waving me through or even seeing my excessively fluorescent yellow jacket until just before the moment of ABS brakes. Nice. And then there are the pedestrians. In the upper part of the commute home, most of these pedestrians are wondering teenagers, very self-absorbed, and completely oblivious to anything, let alone truly hazardous things that are quickly approaching in a possible threat to the teenagers' physical well-being. Nothing has changed, of course; we've always been this way. But now I'm not the teenager. I'm the brightly-colored hazardous thing moving briskly, on my side of the path (of destruction), getting by and trying very hard not to hit anything.

Today, this idiot kid blew smoke in my face.

Now, if you want to be dumb enough to smoke, go for it. It's not my problem. You can do whatever you like with your own body and your mom's money. But when you blow that stupidity in my face, trying to make your scrawny pseudo-gangsta self all threat'nin and shit, well damn man, that's just rude.

I debated for several pedal revolutions as to whether and go back and make a big deal out of it or not. I have kids to pick up. I have professional relations with teenagers all day and I really look forward to the end of the day when I can stop relating with them. And then there's the problem of kids being rude, stupid, dumb, whatever, and getting away with it until they do it to the wrong person and get themselves in jail or the morgue. Ugh. So I turned around and approached him.

He didn't expect me to come back.

He also didn't expect me to try to reason with him, so he kept his headphones on and acted like he didn't know what was going on. Then his buddy mumbled something and spat in my direction, though, thankfully, it was on the ground before it was actually anywhere near me. I became increasingly incensed, and asked if he had something to say. I invited him to come on over and clarify. He considered. He and his buddy, the original smoke-blower, were probably quickly calculating whether or not they could confront me successfully, physically or whatever, and they must have come up with a good answer: no. No way. So I asked if they had a problem, and they claimed ignorance, and I said fine, and wished them luck. I meant it with all my heart. Assholes like that really will need all the luck they can get.

So the moral of the story? Don't be a dick. And its corollary? Don't waste time on teaching ignorant fools about not being ignorant fools. The world will teach them. It will hurt. And in the meantime, I've got kids to pick up. I do still toy with the idea of bring those idiots doughnuts or something though. Doughnuts make everyone happy...