Due to a foot injury that has been stubbornly slow to heal, I have had to relinquish my favorite outdoor physical activity: running. Instead, after a few weeks of total rest, my good friend and devoted personal trainer Rob stopped by to give my long-dormant bicycle a once over. Rob is what you might call a bike expert – given that he lives in the city and it’s his chosen (and only) form of transportation. My old Schwinn, under utilized and weather beaten almost beyond recognition, was as good as new after a few minutes of Rob’s McGuyver treatment: brake repair, a little oil and a cleaning, and Ms. Boop was road ready.
Last evening after I returned home from the office, I set out on my second sojourn. My route thus far has been a seven mile course to my old neighborhood and back, ridden at a decidedly relaxed pace. There is some trial and error involved in selecting the right path. Last night I learned that one busy avenue has a handy stretch of bike runs that travel far to the side of traffic, increasing rider safety and allowing me to indulge in the beloved neighborhood voyeurism that is one of the hallmarks of my personality.
These one hour rides provide much time for observation and quiet reflection. I am learning to cherish them as much as I ever did my runs. However, as was the case with the thrice weekly jogs, sometimes unwanted attention or distraction breaks my stride. It seems that a certain subsection of the world’s menfolk interpret an active lady in sportswear as a potential romantic partner, even as she drips in sweat and stops for no conversation. Most of these “gentleman” confine their attentions to a simple honk of the horn or wolf whistle, easy brushed off or avoided by turning up the volume on my iPod.
But for obvious reasons, I do not wear headphones while melding with the street traffic. I try to be a good citizen and observe all the same rules that guide automobiles. I stop at stop signs, use the turn lanes and brake for red lights. As I sat at a long light at the crosswalk of a busy intersection on my way back home, I encountered some suitors who were a little extra obnoxious.
A group of young gentlemen, who could not have been more than 13 or 14 years old, were congregating at the nearby bus stop, trying their luck with a range of ladies that struck their fancy. Most of these “women” were proximate to their own age. Of course that is to be expected. Boys will always be boys, right? But as I waited for the green light, stuck in thoughtful reverie, it suddenly became apparent that these kids actually had the audacity to notice old, sweaty me.
And let’s just say that their use of suggestive language was not the stuff of which a nun might approve. I did my best to tune them out, really I did. Initially, I felt rather flattered (Oh come on boys! Me?). However, as their overtures became increasingly crass, I felt my old Italian temper start to flare up.
And then it happened…
Before I could stop the words from coming out of my mouth, there they were: “Shut up you little assholes! I am old enough to be your mother!”
No. She. Didn’t.
Yes. She. Did.
With two sentences, Becky Boop lowered herself from potentially hot cougar to old, ill-humored and crabby. But the worst crime of all, I say the worst, is that I resorted to the most stereotypical of language, the vernacular of the Mrs. Ropers of the world. While it may in fact be true that I was old enough to be the boys’ mother (had I given birth at 18), why did my cool points betray me by loudly declaring so?
Suddenly the young men didn’t find me so sexy anymore. Blissfully, the light finally turned green and I pedaled away with burning cheeks, the former catcalls having now turned snide laughter.
Moral of the story? The red lights of city streets are clearly way too long.