October 25, 2007


Some demon possessed me this morning in freezing cold and blinding fog to skip the train and ride my bike to work. I woke up shivering with my windows dripping mist, ran around the house going "brr brr brr" while drinking my tea and making my lunch, and somehow conceived the notion that I'd be warmer and more awake if I were pedaling.

I can say with authority that I am awake -- after four miles of nervously checking my blinkers and brakes and watching every car on the road for signs of trying to right-hook me -- but the simple fact is that moving rapidly through 37-degree air is not an activity to make one warm. I spent my red lights reflecting on this while trying to reverse the numbing effects of frosty brake levers on ungloved hands. It turns out that bare metal in near-freezing air with lots of wind and condensation is actually kind of cold.

But I will let you in on the secret, that I was sorry to get to work and see the fog lifting and the world becoming normal again. There was something lovely about putting on my five layers of sweaters and coats and scarves (and if only there had been gloves) and riding through the silent alienating whiteness with my bike headlight casting a weird wobbling lighthouse glow on the streets and cars and mist. I rode past the spot on Interstate Avenue where a biker got killed on Monday, not so much because I wanted to ride there but because it happened right on my normal route to work. There's a ghost bike chained on the corner and surrounded by pictures and flowers and little red bike blinkers, and that is possibly the only context in human existence in which a flashing LED is a tasteful addition to a memorial site.

Here is your macabre Scattergory for this gloomy morning: exceptional circumstances in which tacky things become posthumously tasteful. I am starting the timer now and you have all day. Go!

Posted by dianna at October 25, 2007 10:33 AM

I'm jealous. Not of the cyclist, that is sad. Of the weather. We've been having a heatwave here, and I'm thinking come on, it's late October. Enough is enough. I love summer and sun, but it's a hell of a lot easier to get my work done when it's rainy and foggy outside.

I can't address the tacky contest. I own and sometimes wear an electric blue faux-snakeskin skirt, so I have to admit I don't really believe in the concept of tacky. Would I wear this to a funeral? Maybe. Not a snake funeral though.

Posted by: didofoot at October 25, 2007 11:10 AM

My grandfather loved gardening and used to talk about doing vermiculture, in the years before he realized that my grandmother was unopposable when she took a position. Anyway, after his funeral, when we were all walking away through the cemetary, my brother found a worm wandering around in the gutter and ran back to "give" it to my grandfather.

I don't know that this actually counts in your category, because worms aren't generally considered especially tacky, and I personally thought it was unbelievably tasteless to give a worm to a dead person as a sign of affection (I mean, seeing as my grandfather would soon have plenty of worms). But the rest of my family, grandmother included, thought it was not only tasteful but endearingly sincere and meaningful. So I certainly think it falls under the category of "exceptional circumstances in which tasteless things are taken as posthumously tasteful." And if we were playing for points, I would be prepared to argue this.

Are we playing for points?

Posted by: lisa at October 25, 2007 12:01 PM

We are playing for points, and you're leading by a lot of them as of now. I agree completely that while worms aren't inherently tacky, giving one to a, er, postliving individual would ordinarily be the height of bad taste. But, in this particular case, appropriate and heartfelt.

Still really weird, though.

Posted by: Dianna at October 25, 2007 12:22 PM