do the people in our lives not offer enough heartache, so that we must name our cars, parent our cats and -- oh, cruel fate -- open our hearts to our bikes?
Until the night last week when my two-wheeled companion disappeared, I hadn't thought much about this question.
The first bike of my adulthood, acquired during a TTC strike, it was nothing extraordinary, a Canadian Tire thick-tired special. But it gave the impression that whoever rode it was going somewhere fast, and we were inseparable from March to October, the perfect synergy of form and function.
One recent cold night, I decide to stay over at a friend's house because I'm under-clothed for the season. From the first hint of spring to the first frost, I can't help dressing like someone who's just left a Kennedy wedding at Hyannisport. Anyway, I digress.
It's too cold for me to ride home, but unfeelingly I decide to leave my bike locked up on the street. "Do you think your bike is fine outside?' my friend asks. "Oh, god, yeah. I've done it so many times. Who would want it?' I ask.
While I dream wine-inspired fantasies, some villainous fiend hijacks my bike just a few floors below.
The next morning, refreshed, I take two stairs at a time. At the place where my bike stood -- nothing. Confused, I stare at the empty space. Spying a bike a few meters away, I think, "Oh, there it is. I could swear I locked it here, though.'
I walk over to the pedalled stranger: not mine. I look back to where I was standing. I walk back to the empty space. Still nothing. I feel odd and disembodied, the pieces falling together in my head. I look down the street and then up, as if I'll see the fiend himself riding off on my purloined bike.
I realize that he or she has left me a memento -- my lock, now twisted and misshapen. If I find the bastard who stole my bike, I'll club him with it. I start my lonely walk home. Oh, but the heart is a strange and fickle organ.
In the afternoon, I go to Cyclemania to look at some new machines. The owner is unshaven and his fingernails are dirty, but he handles his bikes with a rough care that shows his affinity for them. He asks if I want to test drive one. I stammer a reply in the negative, not ready to forget my stolen beauty.
But then I decide to try the green cruiser, uneasily settling onto the remarkably comfortable seat. We glide up and down the Danforth like Fred and Ginger, and I'm charmed. The owner throws in some extras, like a kickstand, splash guards and a bell. My old bike never had splash guards or a bell. I fly home as if on the wings of doves.
Where my old bike was "courier chic' and I it's roughrider, this new one is Old World gentlemanly. Thinner tires make the ride smoother. The ability to sit upright and not hunched over turns my perspective outward.
I feel renewed, if perhaps a little whorish.