Grappling With Change: A Farewell to Summer and a Return to Arms

While I may have spent the last week in "Summer Recess," this so-called "recess" mostly involved work, as I set about gathering my metaphorical acorns for the coming autumn. However, even the most diligent squirrel takes time for recreation, and I'm pleased to report I did manage to engage in some leisure activity. With the summer days rapidly dwindling, I headed to a place where the nuts are not gathered metaphorically; rather, they are quite literally hoarded and stuffed into the crotches of mankinis. This place, of course, is the beach:

Still, even a visit to nature's wet, sandy futon can provide an opportunity to take care of some business. There are three things in this world of which you can never have enough: inner tubes; toilet paper; and, of course, socks. (Contrary to popular belief, you can have too much money and too much underwear.) Consequently, I took a moment to check in with the Sock Doc:

At this point, I know what you're thinking, and the answer to that question is: "Yes." They do have diabetic socks:

In any case, after a protracted and heated haggling session (though the Soc Doc is not a real doctor, this did not prevent him from giving me a prescription to go have coitus with myself after I suggested he include a free set of novelty sock garters with my purchase) I continued my seaside perambulations, and as luck would have it I walked right into the Kingsboro Arm Wresling Championships, sponsored by White Castle:

To say I was excited would be an understatement; in truth, my enthusiasm was over the top, for before me was a veritable "who's who" of local arm wrestling luminaries and their significant others:

Incidentally, I've become accustomed to being regarded with withering nonplussitude, so the seductive smile of the woman with the "celebutard" sunglasses and the giant soda was a pleasant surprise:

Still, I knew better than to engage her in conversation. However innocent my intentions, the thought that her professional arm-wrestling boyfriend might misinterpret them and react violently was enough to make me quake in my diabetic socks. Of course, it's possible that professional arm wrestlers spend so much time focusing on grappling with a single appendage that they've forgotten how to use the rest of their bodies and as such are defenseless in any situation that doesn't involve arm wrestling. It could be that he'd simply plant his elbow on the hood of a nearby Mitsubishi and demand that I come and "get some," and which point I could simply dispatch him with a good old-fashioned right hook. Then again, I couldn't dispatch a giant cup of soda with my right hook, let alone a grown man, so I wasn't about to test my theory. In any case, there wasn't much time for contemplation, since shortly thereafter the tournament began:

These were apparently the smaller, younger competitors who have not yet garnered acclaim, bodily mass, or tattoos. They also haven't garnered seductive girlfriends, so until they do they gain forearm strength in the way young men have for millennia. I was especially interested to note that not only was this particular arm wrestler wearing a shirt in the LiveStrong colourway, but he also looked not unlike a young Lance Armstrong:

It struck me then that, in a certain way, arm wrestling and professional cycling aren't all that different. While most people have arm-wrestled at some point in their lives, relatively few are aware of the world of professional arm wrestling. Moreover, to the uninitiated, it also looks a bit silly. The same is true of professional cycling. Granted, professional cycling is a bit more mainstream than professional arm wrestling, but had Lance Armstrong opted to become an arm wrestler instead of a cyclist things could have turned out a lot differently. (Certainly his surname would have given him a "leg up" in that particular arena, if you'll pardon the mixed limb metaphor.) Perhaps today the Tour of California would be the Tour of Brighton Beach and sponsored by White Castle, while Versus would be broadcasting the Professional Armwrestling Conference, complete with fawning Armstrong-centric commentary.

That said, it turns out arm wrestling doesn't languish in complete obscurity, for no less a personage than New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg made an appearance to congratulate and faux-wrestle with the winner:

It is an election year here in New York, and Bloomberg is wisely courting the "massive forearm" vote.

In all, it was an exciting moment, and I was torn between a desire to pull the sock from my right arm and challenge someone to an arm-wrestling match (I'm also producing a sock puppet theater piece based on the life of Raymond Poulidor--part of the reason the Sock Doc was so irritated with me is that I kept asking for something more "Gallic") and to press Bloomberg with questions about the new Sands Street bike lane, which is constantly menaced by drivers due to the age-old practice of car service double-parking:

Sadly, I didn't have time to do either, because I had a wedding to attend:

Of course, I wasn't invited, nor did I know the bride, or the groom, or any of the attendees, but this did not prevent me from crying disconsolately, shouting my heartfelt congratulations, or pelting them with Russian dumplings.

But the beauty of two people pledging their undying tolerance for each other was not the only source of my tears; I was also saddened by the knowledge that summer was nearly at an end. Indeed, the signs are all around us. For example, the bicycles are now donning their autumn scarves to protect them from chills:

("Freelocked"=free for the taking.)

Though it is possible I'm misinterpreting them and they're simply diabetic bandanas.

Another sign of autumn is when Rapha "drops" its new "Autumn/Winter range." And what autumnal range would be complete without something for cyclocross?

Yes, it's the "Rapha Cross Jersey," and it comes in a distinctive "colourway:"

Frankly, while I'm sure this is very nice, I'm not sure what makes it a cyclocross jersey. Firstly, most "serious" cyclocrossers wear skinsuits (or women's clothing if they're from the Land of Epic Burritos). Secondly, even "non-serious" cyclocrossers have no use for pockets since the races are so short. The only cyclocross-specific touch I see (besides the autumnal colourway) is the shoulder pad, though in conjunction with the "slimming appearance" that seems less cyclocross and more Huey Lewis:

But while the Cross Jersey isn't particularly crossy, I must admit that the "Gentleman's Cap" does indeed seem perfect for the "urban riding dandy:"

Perhaps next year Rapha can simply offer a cap designed for douchebags. They'd better hurry, too, since there's a helmet for douchebags already in the works. Not only that, but pending a commercially available douchebag hat young urbanites are already beginning to improvise:

This to me is an ominous sign that the tri-corner hat may be the latest thing in hipster headwear:

This is disturbing enough on its own, but in conjunction with the nascent folk instrument craze the implications are staggering. We may very well soon see streets full of young people wearing tri-corner hats, blowing on fifes, and beating snare drums. Williamsburg, Brooklyn will be transformed into Colonial Williamsburg. Worse yet, faux dive bars could begin serving Hamantashen along with PBR, and the last thing anybody should do is combine cheap beer and prune-based desserts.

Speaking of disturbing things that come in threes, a reader recently forwarded me this photo of a tri-nippled water bottle:

The only purpose I can see for this bottle is that it would allow you to drink simultaneously from it with two of your teammates, giving you all the appearance of a trio of whelps suckling at a bitch's teat. Either that, or it's some kind of "style exercise." If the latter, that's the kind of exercise that's sure to lead to increased forearm strength.

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