Wednesday, October 1, 2008

take me seriously, even in these pants, please

I'm a no-nonsense bicycle commuter. And by "no-nonsense" I really mean I have the non-motorized version of what you'd call "road rage," a quality that goes against my very nature (i.e., robotic tendencies and inability to feel emotions).

One of my best traits has always been my ability to be indifferent about damn near everything. It's easy to be this way when you assume everyone around you is a lot dumber than you. In America, that's unsurprisingly pretty effing easy. But when I get on the bike, all or a sudden I have an uncontrollable low tolerance for human error; I have bike rage.

If a driver cuts me off, as one did again this morning, I will make every effort, regardless of how it may affect my own safety, to catch up with this errant idiot and make sure he or she knows how angry I am. Most people are understandably shocked at my gall, but even more so, I think many wonder how the hell I managed to keep up with them after they narrowly swerved around me going 60 m.p.h.-plus on a city street. Answer: I'm magic.

But I'm also angry. Angry at ridiculous, inconsiderate drivers who don't understand the concept of a blind spot. I wonder how many people they've hit unknowingly...

And that's where I step in, er, pedal in, as it were. I catch up, knock on a window and let them in on the not-so-secret concept of "mirror, signal, blind spot." It's not our failed "illiquid asset," unlimited credit (and debt) based conundrum of an economy; it's basic driver's ed. Children can understand it, which is why when so many grown-ups fail to, it really ruffles my spoke nipples (that link is surprisingly SFW). It gets my derailleurs in a bunch, if you will. And so I do what needs to be done. I ready my arsenal of expletives, mix them with such phrases as "kind sir" and "ma'am" and let 'er rip.

While usually it's some jagbag on his BlackBerry in a Toyota Corolla whose morning I ruin world I enlighten, this morning I offered up some life lessons to an Asian deliveryman in a white kidnapper van. He messed with the wrong cyclist as he pulled out of his parallel parking spot just when I was coming up from behind him. A true near-death experience, I had to squeeze Baguette's janky old brakes as hard as I could to avoid hitting the van's big white ass. I couldn't swerve around him either, unless I wanted to get hit by the dump truck quickly accelerating on my left. Luckily, a red light allowed me the time needed to catch up with this fool and let him meet me, whose very life he almost snuffed out.

"Excuse me, sir!" I shouted as I rode up between him and the truck. Luckily his window was already open, which I found out when he exhaled a mouthful of menthol Pall Mall into my face.

"Wow. That's the second most awesome thing you've done today. The first was nearly hitting me back there."

At this point he looked at me, his furrowed eyebrows indicating that perhaps he didn't understand, a point I would soon realize.

I looked at the crosswalk light, which had a good 30 seconds left on it, then looked back. "Seriously, you need to watch where you're going. Check your mirrors or something before pulling out. You almost killed me."

He smiled briefly and replied, "No, I don't know!"

I looked back at the crosswalk signal -- 20 seconds. This language barrier was dire. How would I get my point across? I don't know any Asian languages! Then it dawned on me -- I do know how to mime.

I started mime-driving, then mime-cycling; I clapped to signal a collision then dragged my pointer finger across my throat before tilting my head left and making my face, mouth and tongue go limp to signal my death. Finally, as the light was ticking down to change, it all became clear. I knew what I had to do to teach this lesson!

What Would Uncle Joey Do?

Lo and behold, I thought my Dave Coulier-inspired motions might have worked! He nodded at me and waved as if he understood everything I had just said mimed. I smiled back, bid adieu and pedaled out into the intersection to get back on the far right side of the road. Two seconds later, my new friend sped past me, nearly bitch-slapping me with the van's oversized side-view mirrors. Ass.

So it didn't work. Besides the fact that my wild gesticulating probably made me look like a Happy Hands Club reject, the only cause I can attribute to this epic failure of intercultural communication was this morning's pants selection. I'm wearing trouser jeans and in order to avoid the deadly cuff-in-spoke debacle, a situation I fearfully remember from my past, I returned to the decade in which I grew up and executed quite a doozy of a tight-roll to each respective pant leg. In other words, I looked like a crazy person not to be taken seriously; a certain Scientologist; a no-holds-barred Grade A asshole.

Even my damn arms tried to get out of being associated with this outfit...

While admittedly, my cycling pegged-pants look is ridiculous, this underlines a constant qualm of mine in DC -- the notion that people will not take you seriously if you're not dressed like a douche. Granted I'm dressed a bit like a fifth grader circa 1989, but my argument about basic driver's ed skills was cohesive and factual correct. It should've been taken seriously. And sure, perhaps in this one instance language issues (i.e., something more substantial than clothing) got in the way. And OK, my Joey Gladstone impression was a little hard to was I going with this? Something about how I'm smarter than 95 percent of the population and yadda, yadda, yadda probably. Eh.

Outfit details: Top and pants -- Theory; Shoes -- K-Mart, bought for me by my grandma, who owns the same exact pair.

And P.S., actually, I'll tell you what -- I'm looking at the bottom half of that horrid photo above and, you know, I don't think I mind the tight-roll. Fashion is cyclical, after all. Wow! I think I done just lost my mind! *Shrug.*


Shannon said...

You can only wear pegged jeans if they're zipper jeans. Of course.

I-66 said...

If we can't aspire to be like Dave Coulier, who can we aspire to be?

Arjewtino said...

WHAT the hell are trouser jeans?

I once had a similar situation as you. But instead of being on a bike I was in a car. And instead of miming my displeasure I ran out of my car, chased him down to a red light, and banged on his window until he sped off.

I have issues.

LivitLuvit said...

Oh Uncle Joey! Enough cheese for a dozen large pizzas.

Great, now I'm hungry. Can we reminisce about Blossom instead?

Freewheel said...

I like the outfit except maybe the shoes.

As for unloading pent-up anger on an unsuspecting motorist, that's just a great way to start a day. For me, it sort of cleanses the palate before I walk into an office environment.

evers said...

i think you could of gotten by with a middle finger or two if youre good like that. one of your better looks, two up is the move...i find myself in this situation even without my peugeot.

Marissa said...


Wait. How does that work? The zip alleviates the need to peg. I own two pairs of zipper jeans at the moment.


Uncle Joey? HAVE MERCY!


Trouser jeans are wide-leg jeans, usually in a light-weight denim. Many times they have slash pockets and tab closures instead of buttons. They're supposed to be cleaner looking than normal jeans. I don't think dudes have 'em, though. And wow. You're case of road rage is admirable.


My boss knows all the words to the Blossom theme song. It's kind of frighteningly amazing.


Ah, the shoes might be my favorite part! And yes, releasing anger on strangers is fun, but teaching them a lesson is the true reward. Or, uh, failing to teach them a lesson. Dammit.


Snap! The double middle finger is always a go-to. It shows a person as good balance and really means it.

Freewheel said...

I've reconsidered the shoes. I like the fact that you don't have to worry about your shoelaces getting caught by your chain.

suicide_blond said...

i say..embrace the tight roll...

Matt said...

W'hell, Madeline,
Having grown up in Northern MN during the great "Footloose" weirdness, and having suffered under the obligitory fashion weirdnes that emited from Columbia Mall after that flim (or maybe it was 'Cocktail' or 'Say Anything' or... name yer - fashion - poison)
All'a I get to say is I'm so happy to have escaped any Northerm MN ideal of how I'm "supposed" to dress and ended up in the standard t-shirt and jeans with a pair of Chucks (though I've been wearing Chucks since '81, so I guess it's not 'ending up')... And as predictible as my day-to-day wardrobe is, I'm ok with that. I'm not opposed for a button-downer on occasion... I've got a pair of black Marten boots, if I need to 'fancy it up'...
And if I need to get more fancy than that allows? I ain't going!

It's been nice, being able to write (read: defend)about my lame-ass, stuck in a time-warp, fashion, Marlene. I hope you never get your cuff stuck in a chain again.

Your pal,
That Matt

Anonymous said...

I wish he hit you. Just what we need in the world, more stuck up bitches who think they're smarter and better than everyone around them. Maybe if he hit you, the dumb doctors and nurses at the hospital would ask you how they should treat you since they are probably part of the 95% of people dumber than you right? Bikes have the same laws as cars, I wish you real ended him so it would've been your fault for thinking you own the road. Have nice fucking day ma'am.

Marissa said...


Good point on the no laces getting caught in the spokes. I just like that they are the same as my grandma's.


You know I did!


I have no problem with jeans, T-shirts and Chucks. Hell, if you observe the tight roll, I basically just lost my entire ability to ever critique anyone's fashion sense ever again.


Actually, doctors and nurses are definitely in the 5 percent. It's people like you who are in the other 95 percent; people like you who can't pick up on obvious sarcasm, so that when people tell you you're smart and articulate, you probably believe them. That's rich!

(Are you following? I'm going to switch subjects now. Ready? OK.)

I realize bikes have the same laws as cars, which means I'm entitled to a FULL LANE on the road JUST LIKE A VEHICLE. If you had more smarts than you did unwarranted ill-will toward a stranger's life (i.e., mine) then maybe you'd have read the post a little closer and realized that was my entire point. The driver forgot to check his blind spot. I did nothing wrong.

(I'm going to wrap this reply to you up now. Did you get that? Or should I tell you again so you can follow along with everyone else who's not as much of a dumbass as you?)

Well, that's all the time I'll be wasting on you. Thanks for reading (sorta)! C u in hell!

:) Marissa

maryjanejeff said...

Is jagbag the new term for asshat, douche, jabroni, or the old insult of the day? You're much more hip and knowledgeable about that stuff than I. And on fashion too, I still haven't figured out if half my work pants are front pleated or not pleated, I just know that they are suitable for work and I could afford them when I needed them. The roll up jeans are fine, especially when the alternative is possibly getting them caught on the pedals.

I haven't had to put up with almost getting hit by bad drivers but I'm sorry that you did. The one near-car-on-bike accident I've been in in this area was totally my fault and on Richmond Highway. Never again do I cross that road on a bike, it still creeps me out just thinking about it. If I'm riding on the Mount Vernon path, I suck it up and drive to the marina for safety purposes.

I need to get to the Rock Creek Trail again sometime soon.