Saturday, January 11, 2014

Jungleland



She looks how I imagine a buffalo might look with a shaved face and glasses. She has a nasty expression and she is tapping her spoon 3.6 feet from my right ear. The waiter approaches and she grabs his arm, despite the steaming entrees he's holding for table six.

"NO ICE!"

She barks tapping the spoon on her cup. There are three cubes floating in the glass, as he confirms her command. She releases his arm and table six gets their food. Another man in arms reach of my left ear, is nervously crinkling fortune cookies, while he waits for a take out order. He is performing a symphony of sighs and tisks, in between nanosecond time checks.

I begin writing a book in my head about a serial killer, who's victims are Cretans that ruin his dining experiences. She is victim one, found in her yard posed like Al Jolson on one knee, hands out stretched "Mammy" style. Her eyes were tooth picked open, she had three egg roles in her mouth and was found in the early stages of rigor. The police department is stumped.

Even as I surmise, that I am projecting my anger, I cannot stop planning the death of Mr. Cookie. I just awoke from a trauma nap twenty minutes ago. The kind of tormented sleep, only a soul shaking defeat can deliver. Dark fever dreams full of symbols and icons from my greatest hits album. I sip one of the best iced teas in town, as I begin interrogating myself internally about the days events. I am trying to piece together the wreckage into a recognizable form. This will be analyzed for the forth time today; once on the shortcut out of lunch, once on the drive home, and once in retelling to my wife. I now will perform it in a duet, with my abusive inner dialogue....by far my favorite version.

Was it the Mexican food the night before, with the eight pounds of chips, ten different salsa samples and two beers?
Was it the room with the wet carpet, mold lab and suspect bed spread?
Was it the lack of focus on diet and riding the last two weeks?
Was it the elevated hyper-state I could not stabilize, for the last two days?

Oh why must I choose? They are all so good. It's like deciding which child should die, and I'm no Meryl Streep. I decide to let them all live on repeat, in my festering subconscious.

(Earlier today, at the Tour de Felasco 50 mile Eco ride)
 I am having some issues with a mild cough. I take two hits from the inhaler on the car ride from the hotel and a couple more as I unload gear. I'm starting to notice that I'm really not improving, but my Olympic level denial is working overtime, so I ignore it. A few miles in on the first climb, even at the VERY slow pace we are maintaining, so two stragglers can catch us, I am not feeling spry.

About ten miles in, at the base of some of the tougher rooty climbs, I begin coughing for real. I tell some riders behind me to come around, while I  try to pace through, and regulate my breathing. The next set of climbs has some traffic on it, I can't ride the pace I want and the main event takes the stage.

"LADIES AND GENTLEMAN, ARE YOU READY? PLEASE WELCOME TO THE STAGE...
ASTHMAAA ATTTACK! ACK ACK!"

The lights dim, the white noise erupts and I cannot turn one more pedal. My group is gone, I am off my bike and my head is balanced inside my helmet, on my saddle. Rider after rider asks if I am alright, by far my favorite thing about attacks; the question and answer round. I recover and relapse and manage to get moving again when I see my friend Zak, waiting beside the trail. He knows the look, he's a lifetime member of the lung club, and falls in behind me. There are blurry montages of roots and riders and a brutal climb, where Chris was fixing Chad's chain at the top. Zak passes the baton to Chad, and he nurses me through the next ten miles, to the second sag stop. I assure Chad I am OK and tell him to go, which he reluctantly does. I am thankful for my friends, but in my humiliated state, I am good company for no one. I get short cut info from a worried looking volunteer, who asks me three times to get in the "Yellow Truck of Shame". I crawl five miles to the lunch stop, and then take the green arrowed "Route of Tears" back to my car.

I am finishing up my solo dinner. Bison head is neck deep in a feeding orgy, showing no signs of pleasure or nourishment. She taps her glass to let the waiter know he is once again derelict in his duties. I finish my meal, which was the only good thing that has happened today. Tea to go. Check and tip. I slip into the wet reflective stream of lights and faceless cars.

I pull into my garage. The house is empty. Springsteen's "Jungleland" comes on, so I shut the car off and sip tea to a song you might hear on the radio, once or twice in a lifetime. Bruce knows the pain of a real death waltz, and what it's like to reach for a moment, and wind up wounded. Suddenly it's all just water colors, on a wall in my head, set to a tune by The Boss.

It's hard to be thankful at times like these, but we never tell the stories of the perfect rides. These are the days you put in your quiver, for the ride that used to be tough, but doesn't seem that bad now. A shit day on a mountain bike, is still better than what ninety percent of the world is doing with their time.

See you next year Felasco..... you Motherfucker.


W.B.Z.N.    

5 comments:

Grumpy Old Man said...

Is it just me or am I always the one to start talking to you when the attack starts. Seems like we did this dance before?

Juancho said...

Man oh man. San Felasco can tear that shithouse down to the foundation can't it?

nicol said...

Regardless of your state and circumstances, you still found the little things to be thankful for. Bruce, lemonade, the fact you rode your bike. And you got to witness some of the the worst of humanity and remember what you never want to be like. God, ice cubes?

Human Wrecking Ball said...

David-you do seem to ask a lot of questions when the attacks happen. I assume out of concern.
Juancho-Felasco was fine, the shitty hotel room took down the shithouse. I rode 45 miles Sunday, with no trouble...yes I am still pissed.
Nick-Ya that lady was a peach.
thx all.

Fat Lad said...

Still did more than the bloke on the sofa watching the football...