It’s funny, but I was talking about bicycling this week, but let me wander to that conversation the long way...
Mary Lou, Annie (ML’s teenage daughter), and I took a drive to Akron to see the M. C. Escher exhibit. We’ve been looking forward to this for a while, and imagine our dismay when we got there and a man met us at the door to tell us the museum is closed on Mondays. Arragggghhhh!!! (I have plans to go back to the museum tomorrow, so maybe I can tell you about the exhibit in a later post.)
I thought about writing about our misadventures for the day because it all seemed really funny at the time, but less funny when I tried writing about it. There was the part where we drove the wrong way on a one-way street, for which ML claims we share 50/50 responsibility since she was driving and I was a faulty navigator. We also saw a water tower rising above the tree line through mist and rain which looked like a UFO coming in for a landing with a sign “Space Available” in the foreground. Maybe you just had to be there?
Anyway, since it was raining and cold and there wasn’t much else to do, we took the scenic route home, which led us past the polo fields, and that’s where we get to “bicycle” because I used to ride my bike to the polo field when I was a teenager, and it was especially fun for me to remember my 16-yr-old self with Annie in the car. I can’t imagine her riding her bike 20 miles round trip, up and down very steep hills, no matter how cute the guys were on the other end of the journey.
ML pointed out that I’ve always had a thing for men in tights. Yeah, Mikhail Baryshnikov set my heart aflutter at that age too. Maybe ML is right? I could write about the relative merits of uniforms and my interest in the corresponding sports, but seems like I got in enough trouble recently for talking about Harold’s swimsuit, even though nothing sexy happened in the Bahamas. Nothing sexy happened at the polo field either. I’m just saying that my teenaged self was so motivated by the sight of men in tights on ponies I rode my bike 20 difficult miles. Oh, and maybe the cucumber sandwiches too. They treated people very well at the polo field.
Cleveland isn't noted for snobby, highfaluting activities like polo. We’re better known for defunct steel mills and a burning river, but there’s a lot of money around here too. Of course I never had any of that money, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy some of its afterglow. I packed my best clothes and sunhat onto my bike and showed up with a bright smile and impeccable manners. I learned to pack an umbrella too. Not for potential rain. It was a modern parasol to protect my ever-so-white skin that was only protected at polo. Nobody there needed to know that everything about my presentation was a lie, and I was a poor kid raised in the wild woods. I learned to avoid conversations about attending public school and ate another cucumber sandwich while my favorite old guy explained the finer points of polo strategy, and the rich boys in tights smacked the ball around, or maybe each other, and my innocent lusts were satisfied.
When all was said and done, I changed back into my shorts and t-shirt, packed up the nice clothes, got back on my bike, and started riding home. A long, long ride home, which seemed to be entirely uphill.
Would it have been better to write about bicycling to church? I did that too. The door was never locked, and I used to play hymns on the piano. I liked to pray in the sanctuary by myself and see stained glass in the evening sun. Yeah, forgive us our sins for lusting after men in tights!
This is old art again. I’ve been in my archives searching for the muse of my younger self. This was a self portrait I did in college based on a photo my roommate took of me. I posted an illustration of a tricycle a couple weeks ago, and painting a bike seemed redundant. Besides, this picture reminds me of the false front I presented at the polo field. Or is it really a false front? Part of me is the girl in the picture… with skinned knees :)