Sunday, October 09, 2005

Area Woman Plunges into Really Bad Mood after Day of Inclement Weather

Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines. But not right now.

The day started out with the usual threat of dampness, a threat that doesn’t always pan out; so I was not dissuaded from riding my bike to my Saturday morning class. But by the end of the day we were smackered with a deluge the like of which we hadn’t seen since…. the previous week. Only this one, not flukey in nature like the last, was bitterly cold. And when I say bitterly, I know all you Canadians out there are laughing at me, but look: if it were “bitter” by your standards, the rain would be snow, and we don’t snow here. So shut up and let me tell my story without interruption. (I know exactly what you people are like, I didn’t live three years in Ottawa for nothing.)

Planning to lose the radio-active wind-breaker immediately upon arrival, I installed a sporty but stylish wide-wale curdoroy jacket underneath it. But that isn’t all I wore. A pair of jet black jeans, upgraded by a rayon burgundy top, a hit of bling, and my most excellent Italian leather shoes. And yes, in case you’re wondering, when it comes to me and shoes, the term ‘excellent’ does include the concept ‘sensible’. Ever since since 9-11, the litmus test of shoes for me has been, “Could I make it down 98 flights of stairs in 17 minutes in these?” But even before 9-11, you never would’ve seen me in anything higher off the ground than a bottlecap.

The last time I wore high heels was to a costume party when I was four. I hadn’t made it as far as the front door when I fell down and hobbled crying to my mother, outraged and dragging the offending so-called shoe off my insulted achilles all the way home, which was two houses down. (In those days you could send a four-year-old out alone to a house two doors down -- even in the outskirts of our nation’s ravaged capitol, where we were living at the time.) Some girls would have to learn the ‘dumb shoes’ lesson over and over again for decades, but not me. I got it the first time, and that was the end of that.

By the time I got home in the late afternoon, my treasured shoes were drenched through. My shoulders were so tight from hunching against the cold that I looked like I’d dropped out of a bell tower in France. My jeans were so wet that the pumping action of my knees had moulded permanent little knee pouches in them. Had I not nabbed the extra, waterproof jacket that I stuffed into my bike basket on my way out of the garage, my torso would have been as saturated as the rest of me, and my way-cute little Italian leather mini-backpack would have been ruined.

My head throbbed from the added pressure of a fleece headband stuffed underneath my helmet and the ice water pounding in through the openings in the top for the 45 minute duration of my extra-slow ride. At least I assume that’s what gave me a headache. If I were an Italian person, just thinking about such an ordeal would give me a headache; actually undergoing it would warrant a trip to the hospital. Or at least the insane asylum. (I’ve spent enough years in Italy that I think I can talk.)

I was grateful on this occasion to be wearing some sturdy green leather gardening gloves I’d picked up at a sale table for $3.00 -- much as I’d rather have been wearing a pair of Italian leather gloves lined with rabbit fur And when I say rabbit, I don’t mean clubbed-to-death-on-an-ice-floe infant mink, ok? So don’t start with me, you vegetable-brained Oregonians. I’m talking about wantonly reproducing rabbits that patently refuse to employ any birth control whatsoever (someone run and tell the Pope that at least somebody’s listening) and if they weren’t being made into apparel we’d be having to share our apartments with them.

You know, that’s the thing about living in Oregon. Much as I love it, I never aspired to be Miss Cordura. I tire so of the mountain backpacker look around here. Nylon this, goretex that. One can be completely free of any inclination to ever climb a mountain, yet be forced to dress like one just peaked Mount Olympus. I like a wool knee-length coat with tortoise shell buttons. But around here a garment like that wouldn’t have time to dry out between wears. And forget riding a bicycle in it. You’ll get drenched enough just stepping around the corner for a cup of tea. And when I say tea, I don’t mean coffee. In these parts you hear nothing but coffee, coffee, coffee. As if it’s the only beverage known to humankind. All they do in this place is go out for coffee. Coffee gunked up with god-knows what else. Flavorings. “M’am? Do you want that caramel-flavored or cranberry-flavored?” Ugh!

How about coffee-flavored? How’s that? Could you put some coffee flavoring in my coffee? Would that be too much trouble? The final camel was when I’d been lured into a Starbucks (by some unfortunate wretch who didn’t know any better) and I looked up at the wall menu and saw “Cranberry-mint Java Latte Shake.” Or the like. I don’t remember exactly the name – it has mercifully left me. But I almost hurled on the spot. That was it. I’m boycotting the entire coffee industry for as long as I’m standing on American soil.

Americans always think “The more, the better.” You go to an Italian restaurant in the States and you order pasta al pesto and you think you’re going to get pasta with pesto in it (hence the name, right?); and it turns out they decide to mix pasta alle vongole and pasta al carciofo and pasta al prosciutto all together into one dish with the pesto, and your poor taste buds are so confused they don’t know what hit them. Someone has thrown you a surprise party and you didn't invite most of these guests, who have no business even being in the same room together, and now they’re having a riot in your mouth.

Alright, I got off the topic a little this time, but getting back to bicycling, I must say I feel more discouraged after this last ride than I felt after getting squashed by a passing auto the week before. Increasingly, I find myself indulging in secret fantasies about public transportation. And I know better. I’ve tried that. It’s the same as going by bike, only without the exercise. And if it’s not going to save me any time, why do it? I’d still have to fit the exercise in somewhere else. Boo, hiss.


At 4:18 AM, Anonymous Martin said...

Hi! Very interesting blog. I'll add it to my favorites..
Good Luck!


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