Quantum Physics: A Walk in the Park
I had a couple of interesting encounters on yesterday's picturesque (and picaresque) amble along the Charles, into The Old Cambridge Historic District, to Mount Auburn Cemetery. Although it generally annoys me to see living people when I visit the cemetery I was grateful to a grizzled old birdwatcher at Mt. Auburn for making sure I saw the magnificent Great Blue Heron in residence in Halcyon Lake (although I think she told me more so that I wouldn’t disturb the bird than for any other reason). The little people, as my 70-something doppleganger Michael calls birds and other little animals, were out in force, and some big, ugly ones, too. There was a huge flock of very excitable wild turkeys that kept showing up like a mob of zombies. If I had had my blunderbuss handy I’d have had Thanksgiving early.
But my favorite encounter of the evening perambulation -- by far -- came after I’d just crossed under the Eliot Bridge and was standing to the side of the bend of the gravel path there to answer a text. Some spandex-covered assclown comes flying down the path on his Huffy with his feet up on the handlebars. Now, this wasn’t someone on a racing bike (this portion of the Dr. Paul Dudley White Bike Path is a bit rough for racing bikes), and if I’m to be totally honest he was probably on his way to the gay cruising grounds (known locally as The Disenchanted Forest) about a mile and a half down the path. He definitely fit that demographic, age-wise and style-wise. Don’t ask me how I know. That’s another story for another time.
So anyway. To recap: flying downhill on a bike with his feet up on the handlebars at a bend in a gravel path.
All of which was annoying. So annoying. I mean, in a flash, that part of my brain just lit up. It’s like a fire alarm -- sirens, flashing lights, the whole nine yards. In a flash, I see this clown’s whole existence crystallized before me. Someone this annoying, well, it’s Stage 4. He had to go out and buy all that Spandex (probably at the Goodwill, but whatever). He had to get to the point, after countless hours taking selfies in his used spandex, where he thought, yeah, I’m ready to take this to the people. He had to get on that bike, and not just ride that bike, but, like, “trick-ride” it. Everything that went into that moment. It’s just. I can’t. When you’re nine years old and you do something like this, people can be like “what were you thinking, Christopher?” When you’re fifty, the best-case scenario is that people politely ignore you. Because no one cares at that point what you were thinking, or what you are thinking, or what you think about anything. Because nothing someone who thought whatever it is you’re up to was a good idea could know what a good idea is, period, ever. It’s over. You are not contributing anything at this point.
And I would have ignored him, too. But of course, the second he passes me he wipes out spectacularly, as such people do so, so very often, sometimes several times a day, unable to negotiate the bend in the path. Truth is, it was almost like my thought upon seeing him come down the path had been made manifest somehow, prompting me to wonder (briefly) if maybe I had suddenly developed what could be a very useful super power. I thought, hmm, note to self: must explore this further. And I was just going to go on with my day. I mean, nothing to see here. It was like watching 2+2=4. I learned that when I was a toddler. This cat must’ve skipped that day of childhood. Apparently everything just snowballed from there.
But then some part of me was like, he’s hunched over under his bike holding his knee and rocking back and forth and sucking his teeth, so you should probably feign polite concern. So I was like, “you ok?” But I asked it like you’d ask a kid who had done something stupid and ended up hunched over under his bike holding his knee and rocking back and forth, sucking his teeth.
He flashed me the fiery eye.
“Yeah!” he snapped, scrabbling to his feet, obviously still smarting from his little tumble. “But you probably shouldn’t be standing there like that!”
I can’t tell you how much I loved this moment. Bias confirmation orgasm right on the spot. And now I could laugh.
Here, he’s the one flying downhill on a bike with his feet up on the handlebars at a bend in a gravel path, and somehow I’m the one responsible for standing off to the side when he wipes out. Maybe he’s smarter than I gave him credit for. All the sudden we’d gone from 2+2=4 to