Damn! I'm short on cash again. I do have a fat cheque coming in about 10 days, but only $30 till then to keep body and soul together. Looking around the apartment, my eyes fall on my bike, a very nice mountain bike that I bought a few years ago and ride so little that the tires are still practically new. I'm an avid walker and don't enjoy hauling it up three flights of stairs every time I use it. I decide quickly - the bike goes. It should fetch enough to provide me with meals and a few nice drinks till that cheque sets me at ease again.
A few minutes later, my ad on Craigslist.org has joined the information highway!
It takes about a day for the first inquiry to arrive, an e-mail from a girl asking how large the bike is, and then two more. All the correspondents so far have female names. And somehow that starts to tickle my imagination, taking my thoughts away from the money the bike will fetch to ruminations about these nymphs from cyberspace.
I fantasize that all of them are beautiful goddesses smart, strong, athletic, well read and artsy, and, of course, since they're looking for a bike, environmentally conscious. I often see these women downtown, especially in my west-end neighbourhood, with their nice, dyed hair, designer glasses and arm-length tattoos. As they pedal smoothly past me, bent over the handlebars, I see their tantalizing cleavage or heavenly thighs peaking through skirts that open all the way to the top.
I look at the bike, the top bar and the seat. I run my hand across the seat, trying to feel in my imagination what will soon come in contact with that leather.
The first one to come and see the bike is Kelly: not young and not available. In fact, she wants it for her teenage daughter. She finds it too big. Next is Jasmine, a stunning art student. She examines the bike while I examine her. She offers less than I've asked. Great! An excuse to see her again should I change my mind.
The next day there are four more e-mail responses, three from girls and one from a guy called Graham. Quickly, I tell Graham the bike is sold. Over the next two days I meet Wendy, Janet, Cristina, another Kelly, Jill and Irene. Most fulfill my fantasies, and none leaves with the bike. But I manage to strike up an interesting conversation with Janet, a web designer who happens to live nearby. I tell her where I hang out for coffee and ask her to drop by and say hi if she's around.
Out on on some errands, I run into Will, an old friend. Since he's one of the few people I haven't borrowed money from, I'm bold. "Listen, old pal, you couldn't lend me a bit of money till the end of the month, could you?"
Later, back home with money in my pocket, I've lost all incentive to sell my bike. But the adventure has been nice. Checking my e-mail, I find yet another reply. This time not only has a girl answered my ad for the bike, but she's also described herself.
She's fresh out of university, with a master's in English, and needs the bike to go to galleries and events. She's 5-foot-6 and slim, so she's looking for a medium-size bike. Better still, she ends her message with a quote from Milton.
This one is too good to let go. I immediately reply and ask her to come see the bike, adding that I also used it to go to galleries and events (wink, wink). I frantically search the Internet, find a quote by a bloke called Francis Bacon, slap it on and off goes the e-mail.
This time I leave nothing to chance. I queue up some "girl-impressing" obscure Mediterranean music, spread pretentious books and art supplies around the apartment and wait for the mystery girl to arrive.
She doesn't, and I'm pissed as hell. "Hey, did you not want the bike?" I roar in my e-mail . No reply.
The next day, Susan shows up to see the bike. She has a lot going for her, including a boyfriend who tags along.
I take the ad off Craigslist and consider the experiment over. Just then, there's an e-mail from Janet. She asks when I'll be in my favourite coffee shop again so she can drop by and say hi. We meet the next weekend over coffee, which leads to dinner. And the cheque has cleared, so I pay.
She's bought another bike, and when I tell her mine is still unsold, she suggests with a sparkle in her eyes that we bike to the Beaches on the weekend. Getting ready, I notice that all this time I've been showing off my chick-magnet bike with flat tires. I have to call Janet to ask if she has a pump.
Norman Pierre is a pseudonym.