The Good Morning People
to go: 1,950.01
The Good Morning People
were out in full force yesterday.
"I just want to SLAP
them," I grumbled, as David and I paused for a
dried-fruit-and-bottled-water break at the stone boat on Bay Farm
Island. We had been riding for less than an hour, and already I'd
deflected four "Hi how are
yous," a handful of "Beautiful
day, isn't its?" and half a
dozen "Good Mornings."
"Look," David said.
"When you're out in public on a sunny morning, wearing buttercup
yellow" -- and here he waved a hand at our jackets -- "people are going
to want to be friendly. It's only natural."
He's got a point.
Dressed in our matching
yellow jackets and our Tootsie Pop red helmets, we do convey a
sort of goofy good cheer that other people apparently find
irresistible. Joggers, dog-walkers, stroller-pushers, fellow
bicyclists: they all seem compelled to hail us when we pass each other
on the trail.
I doubt that we would be
eliciting the same friendly reaction if we were dressed in camouflage
and his-and-her "Kill 'Em All And Let God Sort It Out" T-shirts.
David always responds
cheerfully to the Good Morning People. Yesterday, for instance, we were
getting ready to pass a group of senior citizens as they power-walked
along the shoreline. David called out, as he always does, in his
sonorous Radio Announcer Voice. ("Two
bicycles coming: we're going to pass you on your left hand side.")
One of the women turned around, as we approached, and playfully said,
"What's the password?"
shouted. It earned a big laugh from everybody within earshot.
From everybody but ME,
that is. I just sort of nodded grimly, at nobody in particular, and
I can't help it. The
Good Morning People annoy the hell out of me. Not because I'm crabby
and curmudgeonly and antisocial by nature ... although I am,
more often than not. And not because saying 'hello' interrupts some
critically-important flow of concentration ... although it does,
more often than not. Bike-riding is the perfect sport for people who
enjoy spending a lot of time inside their own head. If I'm, say,
composing a *FootNotes* entry in my head as I'm topping the crest of
the million-dollar bike bridge, the last thing in the world I'm going
to want to do is stop in mid-thought-process and exchange mindless
pleasantries with strangers.
But that's not why I
hate The Good Morning People, either. Mostly I hate The Good
Morning People because they catch me out of breath,
more often than not.
I'll be doing battle
with a stiff wind -- beet-red, chugging along in SERIOUS
that my heart doesn't explode before I have to upshift again --
all of a sudden another cyclist will appear out of nowhere, cruising
along effortlessly in the other direction, singing out a jaunty "Good
morning!" If I attempt to say
anything at that moment -- if I so much as open my
mouth -- the only
sound you'll hear is the sound of two lungs collapsing. I can't risk
that kind of embarrassment, especially in front of a superior
cyclist. So I just keep my head down and pretend I didn't hear them. Or
else I'll be coasting down the side of the Moraga Hill, still huffing
and puffing from the effort of the ascent, thanking god for downhills
and 13% Spandex/Lycra, when I'll suddenly encounter a couple of
elderly dog-walkers at the bottom of the hill, eager to tell me to "Have
a nice day!" Half the time it's
all I can do to simply remain vertical until my upper respiratory
system is functioning normally again. An actual verbal response is out
of the question.
I don't care if they see
me sweat. I just don't want them to see me HYPERVENTILATE.
Still, I suppose that
it wouldn't kill me to at least make an effort to be nicer to people.
David is working very hard to teach me the rules of the cycling road --
always call out when you're passing someone, always carry a spare tube,
never turn a blind corner, never tell somebody that their dog looks
like a toupee with feet (even if it does). A lot of what I'm
from him, I'm learning by example. If he can be unfailingly courteous
and considerate of people we encounter on the trail, maybe *I*
Or maybe I can just
start running over them.
throw a rock