The Indignity of Commuting by Bicycle: Off-Peak Hours

Everybody's number comes up eventually, and at some point we must roll up our sleeves, gird our loins, repeat a bunch of other similar clichés, and plunge our arms elbow-deep into the rancid pudding of responsibility. For some, it's jury duty. For others, it's a military tour of duty in a hostile country. And for me, it was a visit to Williamsburg, that neighborhood in Brooklyn which in a little over a decade has been transformed from a semi-obscure bastion of Orthodox Jewry to an international symbol of the excesses of the "hipster" generation.

It's impossible to overstate the significance of Williamsburg in the so-called "hipster" culture. In this context it is a modern-day Library of Alexandria that contains "vintage" vinyl and used pants instead of scrolls, and just as the Library of Alexandria was once the apotheosis of all knowledge and thought, so does Williamsburg represents the sum total of all of humanity's trend-mongering and fashion victimhood from the dawn of time until our present day.

Of course, it's human nature to fear that which we don't understand. Certainly a simple farmer or goat herder or ziggurat superintendent or whatever regular people did for money back then would have, upon entering the Library of Alexandria, cowered and trembled amid all those scrolls and philosophers and learned warrior-librarians and "epic" ziggurat card catalogs of stone. Similarly, I fear each trip to Williamsburg like it will be my last, and this is probably because I am but a humble bike blogger who leads a parochial life of almost laughable mundanity. Anybody who follows my Twitter knows what I'm talking about:
Though my life isn't just egg "curation;" there's also egg consumption:

That was a really fun day.

Yesterday however I had to attend to various important business matters [read: I was out of eggs] in various parts of the city--among these being Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the earthly manifestation of all my fears. While I'm used to being "awheel" during the morning and evening hours of rush as well as on the weekends, I'm less accustomed to flitting about the city during mid-day on weekdays, when those with non-traditional work schedules as well as members of the creative class [read: the unemployed] are the dominant presence on the city's bike lanes and thoroughfares--and waterways, as it turns out, for as I crossed the Manhattan Bridge I noticed a brace of "fixies of the sea:"

By "fixies of the sea" I of course mean personal watercraft:

I don't know what sort of people have the time, money, and genetic resistance to toxic chemicals it would require to spend Wednesday afternoon jet-skiing or wave-running or aqua-Rollerblading or whatever it's called on the "Big Skanky" (fun factoid: a Honda Civic will run on water from the East River with absolutely no modification) but I'll just assume they were Russian oligarchs. (Anybody engaged in puzzlingly lavish recreational behavior is a Russian oligarch.)

I wasn't even in Manhattan yet and already I was tempted to turn fender and retreat to the comfort and security of my top-notch egg-boiling facilities, though bravely I pressed on. It's a good thing I did, too, because I got to witness the rare and spectacular "Beautiful Godzilla Rollback:"

The "Beautiful Godzilla Rollback" is a variation of the traditional "shoal," and it occurs when a Beautiful Godzilla rolls so far into an intersection that she is actually forced to propel herself backwards with her high heels in retreat. I took the above photo as the Rollback was in process and just a few moments after she was almost hit by a yellow cab. Notice how she uses her purple velvet Inigo Montoya boots to push herself backwards and out of the way of oncoming traffic:

(Somewhere a New York Times style reporter is wetting his or her pants.)

The beauty of the "Beautiful Godzilla Rollback" lies in the fact that it is one of the few instances in which a Beautiful Godzilla will do anything even remotely defensive, or in any way act to preserve her own life. It's like those rare instances when a cat tries to jump on something and misses--even though it could have been hurt, you're secretly pleased, since cats are always so damn smug about their agility.

Incidentally, you may also have noticed a pair of Bike Lane Hikers in the background:

Bike Lane Hiking is the hottest fitness craze in New York City right now--it's even more popular than indoor rock climbing. All over the city people are abandoning the sidewalks in droves and heeding the call of those inviting lime green bike lanes. Apparently they think the new cycling infrastructure in New York is actually an extension of the Appalachian Trail, except instead of hiking boots Bike Lane Hikers wear buttery-soft leather loafers and driving mocs. I guess certain people, when they see something new, immediately think, "Hey, I should walk on that!" Hopefully when that first freeze hits they all go test the pond in Central Park and never return.

Once I completed my business in Manhattan, I took a deep breath and pointed my bicycle towards Williamsburg, though the Nü-Freds of Manhattan were not going to let me leave the island without a good "shoaling:"

Notice he's riding a "Zen" bike and is "palping" some kind of "epic" spoke lighting system:

I'm not sure what's so "Zen" about cutting off a fellow cyclist and then forcing him to navigate around you because you've failed to notice that the light has changed, but then again I'm just a simple egg-boiler naive in the ways of the world.

And here's Williamsburg. Looks peaceful, doesn't it? Well, I'm sure the trenches of World War I looked peaceful from the cockpit of a biplane too:

As I made my way along Williamsburg's Jugular, Bedford Avenue, I encountered a fire engine turning onto the avenue from a side street. The driver was taking the turn slowly as there was minimal clearance between the fire engine's front bumper and the car parked on the left side of the street:

Perhaps I'm getting old, or perhaps egg-boiling has trained me in the art of patience, but I really didn't mind waiting the extra second or two for the fireman to complete his turn. This was not true of the cyclist ahead of me, however, who scrambled crablike onto the sidewalk:

Now, I would have thought nothing of it had he dismounted the bicycle and "portaged" it, or even if he'd simply hopped the curb. However, the between-the-legs crab-scurry belies an urgency that borders on panic. I didn't ask him how he takes his eggs, but I'd peg him for a scrambler.

With some time to spare before my next engagement, I stopped in a coffee-and-muffin-purveying establishment, where I bore witness to an egregious breach of bicycle etiquette:

The bicycle with the white fork is my Scattante--or what remains of it--and as I sipped my coffee-themed drink I watched as the woman with the macramé hat leaned her bicycle against mine and simply left it there:

Not only had she failed to lock it, but she also clearly failed to take into account that the owner of the bedraggled Scattante might need to leave before she did. What if I had had an egg on the boil and needed to return to it? Was I supposed to move her bicycle for her? Was I supposed to let it fall to the pavement? Was I supposed to find her, tug on her on her macramé hat to get her attention, and ask, "Excuse me, Ma'am, but can you move your bicycle?" Why should her bicycle suddenly become my problem?

Fortunately, none of these scenarios came to pass, as she did leave before I did--though I was soon forced to contemplate another even more distressing indignity:

Yes, that is indeed a man wearing black nail polish and eating a bagel:

Black nail polish on man hands is creepy enough, but when juxtaposed with a bagel it somehow seems perverse. It's like when a movie supervillain pets a cat, or like when a priest touches a baby. Black nail polish seems much better suited to gripping a bent fork in a greasy spoon somewhere with shaky hands and eating a big disgusting plate of hangover food. Perhaps you don't even remember how the nail polish got there, or why you're wearing black lace garters and runny eyeliner. Eating a bagel at a muffin shop seems like something you'd do a few weeks later after some quality time with the nail polish remover and a clean bill of health from the free clinic.

Speaking of sex acts and muffins, my neighbor had a compelling sticker on her laptop:

While the camera integrated into my mobular telephone did not capture it legibly, it says: "The Most Expensive Meal You'll Ever Eat Is My Pussy." This may or may not be true--I've had some pretty expensive meals in my day--though I certainly will allow that there's no such thing as a free lunch.

After leaving the muffin shop, I continued along Bedford Avenue, where a non-hipster wearing headphones and riding a hybrid bicycle rounded a corner and salmoned right at me. While he managed to avoid me, he was successful in coldcocking a pedestrian right behind me. Here she is regaining her senses as the moronic salmon continues on his way:

I suppose I could have chided him, but hopefully nature will take its course.

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