Tuesday, February 26, 2008
The Crying Game or Lust on a Schwinn (guest Blog)
(I have a guest blogger today... who happens to write better than I...so enjoy!)
by Sadie LeSueur
Cyclists take a perverse interest in the details of other people’s crashes. How many feet did so-and-so slide? How much road rash? Did he cry like a guy (dry gasping) or like a girl (moist sniffling)? We rarely take such a keen interest in our own accidents and, in fact, attempt to de-narrativize them, probably to avoid humiliation. I was recently enjoying a good gossip about some crashes, and I realized that my first sexual encounter occurred as a result of my first massive cycling wipeout. I had apparently de-narrativized them so successfully that both had been long forgotten.
I was riding a Schwinn metallic yellow-green, banana seat bike with the white plastic handlebar basket decorated with pink and yellow Daisies. It was my first bike. I got it for Christmas the year before when I was not yet 6. My older brother and I got bikes at the same time, and he unknowingly tormented me by learning to ride it immediately while it seemed, in comparison, to take me forever. It was a heinous crime, and I cried like a little girl (wet gasping). His other early crimes included being able to saw a piece of plywood in half and being allowed to walk without an adult on our balcony, which had no railing. People imagine that children are innocent and pure, but this is a fiction adults embrace so that they can patronize precocity and pretend that they were once entirely good. In fact, I hated him with a pure and childlike hatred for being better than me at biking and sawing and standing at a great height.
I was cycling comfortably once a year had gone by. Times were changing; my mother got divorced, and a wiry man who resembled Ronald Reagan was trying to get her to marry him. (In retrospect, I realize that my mother must have been really hot because she gave several serious suitors the heave-ho, before she settled on my father, in spite of having three kids, 2 horses, 2 cats, and a dog.) In order to impress my mother, Wiry Ron invited our entourage to his race horse stable for the weekend. My brothers and I resented him instantly. His game was pretty obvious from the start. He gave us an elaborate tour of his large and empty house, and the race horses just ate. He was on the make for our mother and was practicing an artless, soulless form of bribery.
Wiry Ron conveyed my mother off somewhere, and my brothers were busy, probably throwing horse manure or pond scum at each other. The foul object wars began that summer. The arms race eventually moved on to leeches and other invertebrates and the things to which they cling. Left alone, I decided to take my Schwinn around the farm, which was criss-crossed with dirt roads that were dusty from the lack of rain. I headed out, down the hill from the house. I soon realized that there was a truck following me and panicked. I felt that I shouldn’t hold up the truck, so I began to pedal faster and faster. I gripped the hard plastic handlebars and labored on in a dust ball, feet helter skelter on the pedals like a crazed Raggedy Ann doll. There is a limit to how fast a 7 year-old girl can move her legs on a single-speed bike. I reached that limit as I made the sweeping left-hand turn at the bottom of the driveway. A manic comet of dust, I missed the turn and barreled into a ditch. I flew over the handlebars and landed entwined with the Schwinn. I did what any child would do. I got up and tried to act as if I just happened to be there. Discerning the difference between having done something wrong and having been the victim of a terrifying accident is difficult when one is 7.
As I looked up at the truck, I saw a tall, tanned man in faded jeans approach me. He picked me up and set me on my feet. He was mesmerizingly beautiful with sandy colored hair and heavy, dark eyes, and his skin glowed. He told me that he was Wiry Ron’s, 17 year-old son and asked if I was all right. I was too terrified to speak, and I tried to hide my bleeding elbows and knees. I didn’t feel the pain. I felt only the stinging humiliation of being exposed as a total wanker in front of this steaming, gorgeous god of a man. I sat in mortified silence as he took me back to the house. Even worse, while I was in the shower, he opened the door and leaned in just enough to put a bottle of iodine on the counter. I slumped against the shower wall in despair, a creature so lost to humanity that I didn’t even merit an “Excuse me” or a privacy knock.
I wasn’t hoping that he would waltz in and kiss me or grope me (please). I wasn’t in love with him. Romantic love is too advanced for a small child. If I hadn’t managed to go down in the maenadic frenzy, I would have stalked him secretly. It was a pure, childlike sexual attraction, impotent and miserably angry. I cried like a guy.