Saturday, March 7, 2009
Sweet Bike of Youth
It was a truly beautiful day today--too warm, in fact, for this jacket, but I think it really makes the outfit. I stayed in the park for quite a while taking pictures (I really need to buy a Gorillapod to remedy that) and just thinking/daydreaming. While I was taking pictures a man in an ugly white stationwagon-that-calls-itself-a-crossover slowed down and waved at me. I figured he thought he knew me so I waved back. Then the man came back around, stopped his car, and asked me if I wanted him to take pictures of me with my bike. I said, "No, I'm okay," and he drove off. I didn't recognize the man at all, but I feel sure that I had experiened a very "Dateline: To Catch A Predator" type moment. I know that that doesn't, on the face of it, seem so suspicious, but I know that I look a lot younger than I am. For the longest time, I had relatives who would mistake me for a high school student after I'd graduated from college. Last spring, after an encounter with a woman who invited me to a children's church service, I asked my aunt how old I looked and she said that I appeared to be around sixteen. Too old for children's church, but still 13 years younger than I was. While my age issue might be particular to me, I believe some of it involves the fact that I was on foot or on a bike when I had these encounters. In the carcentric U.S., I think that driving a car is regarded as a sure sign of adulthood. If you're on foot or a bike, you're seen as juvenile unless you clearly aren't a kid. Perhaps you're regarded as juvenile even if you're clearly not a kid. That might account for some of the lack of respect many drivers have for cyclists.
While I sat in the park, my mind wandering, a guy in a black car slowly rolled by and did the same thing as the guy in the white car. This time, when he stopped, he said, "Hey gorgeous!" I don't think he mistook me for a kid, but he looked very middle-aged, so he was still too old for my taste.