Saturday, July 17, 2004

"My wife has burned the scrambled eggs. The dog just bit my leg ...."

It all started when Rick wanted to to go kayaking on Wednesday. I haven't been in a kayak since the late 1980s, primarily because I associate kayaks with PAIN. The capital letters are no joke. While I enjoy the occasional leisurely afternoon in a two-person canoe, I can't seem to get the kayak motion right without every muscle in my shoulders and upper back seizing up and reacting as if someone has clubbed them with a sledgehammer. My last experience with a kayak involved a 12-mile trip down the Charles River and into Boston Harbor. My shoulders went into spasm during the first hundred yards or so. I finished the trip. I also bit a hole in my life vest.

As it happened, we didn't go kayaking, first of all because I agreed to try it for an hour or so, but the only rental place we could find charged a lot of money and rented the boats for a whole day. Whether or not we could make this arrangement worth its own while became moot when Rick stepped outside and discovered that the temperature had dropped by about 15 degrees Fahrenheit from what he expected. We decided that it was, after all, a better day for bicycling than for boating.

Now, when we had the old Colt, we started out with a rooftop bike rack. A few years back, this bike rack gave its life for the bikes on the day I drove into the garage without remembering that the rack was loaded. (Rick doesn't blame this on me at all. Each of us had come close to this same kind of disaster three or four times previously. The rack's number just happened to come up while I was at the wheel.) After that, we just started opening up the hatchback, putting the back seat down, and tossing the bikes into the rear. Unfortunately, the Colt is deceased, the trunk of the Mazda is the wrong size and shape for the task, and we really don't want to beat up the long-suffering Prizm any more right now.

So, Rick dug around in the basement until he found the old bumper rack that we picked up long ago at a garage sale and had occasionally used to transport bikes on the back of the Mazda. He rigged up the rack and the bikes, and then started to back the car out of the garage. Unfortunately, our driveway slants slightly where it meets the street, and Rick started to hear a scraping noise as the bikes brushed the asphalt. He immediately slammed on the brakes to avoid injuring the bikes. Figuring that he'd need to fully rearrange the bike and racks, he pulled up the parking brake lever -- and then we heard a huge CLUNK as the brake mechanism gave way.

"And it would be okay ... on any other day."

Did I mention that all of this happened on Rick's 48th birthday?

Okay, we finally made it all work. We made an appointment for the Mazda to be repaired, rode the bikes through two miles of car-exhaust-choked Kalamazoo streets (ick!) to the Kal-Haven Trail, and then did enjoy a twelve-mile round trip among the flowers, birds, and butterflies of the Kal-Haven before braving the bumpy streets again on the way home. We celebrated further with a nice dinner in a new Indian restaurant, and continued the festivities the next day by seeing Fahrenheit 9/11 once more with Joyce and Pam. Sometimes it helps to think of a birthday as a season rather than a single day, I think; it definitely leaves room for a do-over.

(Lyrics to On Any Other Day by Stewart Copeland)


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