Bicycles and Baseball: I Just Can’t Even…

Today was one of those rare weekday afternoon baseball games. The weather was pretty awesome. I decided to ride Little Nellie to the ballpark.

About 8 miles into the ride, a woman flagged me down next to a swampy area along the Mount Vernon Trail, just north of Old Town.

“Do you know how to change a tire?”

I said “Sure” as my brain noticed two things. First, she was an attractive, fit woman who was probably in her mid twenties. Second, when I was young and single, not once did an attractive, fit woman who was probably in her mid twenties ever ask me to help her change a tire. Not once.

I just can’t even…

I hopped off my bike. Two other bike riders stood by to see how tire changing is done. I thought “Don’t screw this up, you old dork.” Flat tire woman, whose name was Susie, already had the rear wheel (it’s always the rear wheel) off. She had used tire levers to remove the tire and tube.

She: “I put a dollar bill in the tire as a boot. Here’s my Road Morph pump.”

Me: “Marry me. You are the woman of my dreams.”

I didn’t ask how she knew the cool trick of covering the hole in the tire casing with a dollar bill. Nor did I ask how she knew had my favorite pump. (It looks like a little frame pump but converts to a miniature floor pump.) In fact, I had the same pump on my bike. She even knew enough not to mess around with lame patch kits when a replacement tube was so much faster and easier.

She had the whole thing down except actually putting the tire back together.

So I filled up the tube with some air. Put it in the tire. I started working the tire onto the rim. She reached for the levers. Her only mistake!

“Don’t use them to put the tire on. They puncture the tube.”

One tire bead went on. The other went on except for the last, stubborn little bit. I showed her how to push the tire on the far side of the rim into the well of the rim. Then I used the bottoms of the palms of my hands to nudge the last bit of bead over. She pumped it up a bit more. We checked to see if the tube was not sneaking out from beneath the bead. Nope. She filled it up noting that the gauge on the pump was kind of useless. I said “Use your fingers. Just pump until it’s hard to squeeze the tire.” Done.

And off I rode.

About three minutes later Susie blasted past me. “Thanks, again.”

I felt old. Again.

I just can’t even…

So I rode to the game. I sat along the first baseline just beyond the Nationals’ dugout. My seat was on the aisle in row T, about 20 rows up from the field. The sun was shining. The humidity was low. The wind was blowing out. The section I was in was getting a nice breeze from the big gap in the upper decks of the stadium behind us.

Two men were behind me drinking beer and making funny remarks. I had my official Alex Rodriquez glove on my left hand. Unlike ARod I was not taking performance enhancing drugs. Perhaps this was a mistake.

Anyway, life was good. Then. along about the third or fourth inning, Trey Turner, a right handed batter, came to the plate. Right-handed batters stand on the left side of home plate. (This just occurred to me after 62 years. Weird.) They tend to foul balls to the right side of the field. In other words, in our direction.

Turner hit a high fly ball. Foul. Over the Nationals dugout. Over the sections to our left. Over our heads. Then it came, improbably, straight down. The three of us stood. Looking up. I’ll be damned it’s going to land right. Here.

It grazed the front of the man behind me as he stood in the aisle next to us. He flinched to protect his beer. And the ball hit the concrete and bounced over his head about 10 rows behind us.

I just can’t even…

It never once occurred to me to stick the glove out and catch the damned ball. All around me I could hear fans say “He had a glove on!”

Translation: “LOSER!!!”

Complete humiliation.

I felt a strange kinship with my friend and fellow blogger Tim Jones. Tim and I went to school together for six years. He actually played sports in high school. He had and has no vices. (Except perhaps microdosing LSD, but that’s just a rumor.) I, on the other hand, spent my years of military high school incarceration taking PE classes and channeling Bluto Blutarski, who had yet to be invented.  These days, Tim is a comically horrific athlete. He sucks at racquetball. And, remarkably, he was a slower marathon runner than me.

In stark contrast, I am an inept fan. I just can’t even…

Recently, my vegan friend Klarence, who is a baseball fanatic of the first order, acquired a leather glove to catch foul balls. This was a major philosophical concession on her part. She rationalized that the glove was previously owned by a friend from West Virginia. It’s probably covered in coal dust from the mahns. It’s seriously used. Then it occurred to me, the ball is covered with horsehide.

I just can’t even…




Ten Random Thoughts from behind My Handlebars

4. I have friends who are so unreliable, I can rely on their unreliability.

2. Add another list to the bizarre people I have met: he was a paragon of government IT contracting who was once worth over $200 million. He had more charisma than anyone I’ve ever seen. When he walked into a room, all eyes turned to him. Since I last saw him ten years ago, he’s had a drug conviction, been accused of rape, and filed for bankruptcy. It appears he was a complete fraud.

8. According to a book I am reading, the sales tax on cars in Denmark is 180%. Oof.

5. I have a friend who professes to be “present”, that is to live in the present moment. Over five months ago she told me that we will get together “soon.” In mindfulness- speak that pretty much means “never.”  It’s a bit like Zeno’s dichotomy paradox. We’ll meet tomorrow, but when tomorrow comes, it’s today, so we’ll meet tomorrow, ad infinitum. What a clever way to tell someone to cheese off.

9.   Icelandair offers a free 7 day layover in Iceland to anyone flying their airline to Europe. They operate tours and hotels too. Why doesn’t any other airline do this? Okay, maybe it wouldn’t work so well for Yemeni Air, but…

6. I happen to be okay with gluten. (I tried a gluten free pastry a few weeks ago. It was dreadful. It was almost as bad as the neoprene vegan hot dog I ate last year.) This is why, after your umpteenth “gluten is bad” post appeared on on my Facebook page, I unfollowed you. Nothing personal. You are now one of the 20 percent of my Facebook friends that I have unfollowed. (For the record, I also block eight people.) Pass the pretzels.

3. Whenever I travel I experience a “prime directive” moment. That’s when you see something in conflict with your normal life that you have to restrain yourself from interfering. From as early as I can remember I have been told to look both ways when crossing the street. In Stockholm, parents with little kids just walk. They have absolute confidence that drivers and cyclists will follow the rules to the letter and stop for them. Every time I saw this happen, I felt like screaming “NO!!!”

7. I like the idea of the drum circle in Meridian Hill Park, but I can only take about ten minutes of it before I get a crashing headache.

10. I rode to work in the pouring rain today. It was actually pretty nice because both the air and the rain drops were warm. It was a bit like putting your bike on a trainer in the shower and riding for 75 minutes.

1. Ten years ago it was absurd to suggest that DC was a better place to live than Fairfax County. Not any more. Ten years from now I wonder if people will look at Fairfax County and wonder what went wrong.