My Aunt Margret is a very kind and graceful lady. She sits down next to me, looks me in the eyes and starts a conversation:
Aunt Margret: “So…you’re still riding your bicycle?” The tone of her voice wasn’t mild curiosity but restrained concern. Apparently she has been talking to mom and I imagine the last childhood memory my aunt has of me was during my obsessive BMX stage, no less mediocre or obsessive than my current mountain bike stage.
Me: “Yes; in fact, I just did a race with Denny in Traverse City.” Dragging Denny into the conversations did two things. First, I just wanted to make it clear I am not the only grown man still riding a bicycle. Second, Aunt Margret knows Denny since we all lived in the same neighborhood growing up, maybe this will change the conversation.
Aunt Margret: “How is Denny?” (I am brilliant.)
My brother Dave is highly motivated and has this ability to make girls swoon. He retired early from the Ford Motor Company and now has a very successful business restoring vintage AC Cobra sports cars. My brother Glen is charming and an amazing storyteller; he can even make his account of a trip to the Home Depot riveting. Glen is currently building an experimental airplane in his garage. I ride bicycles.
I imagine my parents try to frame me in a favorable light when talking to friends and family, like you would do with any child whom you are quietly embarrassed with, as in: “oh, my son [so and so] is doing fine, he moved to New York and is dancing in an off Broadway musical [awkward pause] and is a successful hair dresser [another awkward pause]. He always was the artistic one [insert slightly embarrassed, forced, reminiscent sigh]".
Mike emailed me earlier this week and said he read my blog. I pointed out to him that every childhood picture of me in the blog was from Espanola, a small town in Northern Ontario where Mike still lives. My older sister lived in Espanola and I would often visit when I was younger. That, of course, is how I met Mike. I thought about how most of my childhood pictures were from Espanola. I pulled out my old photo albums to verify this.
What I found interesting is that almost every picture I have of me that wasn’t taken in Espanola somehow involves a bicycle.
Kids ride bicycles, that’s a fact, but the pictures reveal more than a passing fancy, they reveal some type of obsession with bikes I hadn't really noticed before.
I suppose, as a child, my bicycle expanded my universe from just my block to the Levagood Park a mile north of my house to the woods along the Rouge River, a mile south. Maybe bicycling still expands my universe. Maybe I should grow up.
Maybe the fact that I still ride a bicycle could give my graceful aunt reason to be concerned. Maybe that shouldn't concern me.