Thursday, April 29, 2010

Way Too Cool For This Block

The sun is out. Warmth abounds, drawing people out of their homes and into their yards. The clouds have gone, and I am reminded of the short story by Ray Bradbury entitled "All Summer in a Day," where the rains cease once every seven years, allowing the sun to shine for one hour. Neighbors are meeting in the street to chat, kids are riding bikes, and cars slow down as the people in them wave or shout hellos.

I am walking my daughter's bike to the garage, trying not to grumble about her carelessness at leaving it out in the yard. The bike, not yet hers for one complete day, is a lime green BMX style ride with funky black detailing, lots of shiny chrome, and foot pegs. I never had such a bike growing up, and so the urge to know how one feels underneath me is too great to resist. I swing my leg over the seat, drop down onto my butt, then head up the driveway and onto the street. I ride straight and fast up the road a bit before leaning from side to side to make large, swooping circles on the asphalt.
"Nice bike!" Shouts my neighbor as he runs past me. He is chasing his fiesty five-year-old daughter as she teeters on her tiny little pink bike, her red hair blowing behind her.
"Way to go Bella!" I offer encouragement, happy to see her braving the world without training wheels for the first time.
On our rock-star (for real) neighbor's front lawn there is a small gathering of people, so I head over to hear the latest neighborhood scuttlebutt. I brake to a halt, making myself a part of the circle. I sit low on the bike, dropping one foot to the ground and draping one arm lazily across my lap, striking a cool and casual pose. The circle erupts with a wave of laughter.
"Dude, sweet ride, I'm so jealous." This from the rock star, a motorcycle owner, as his wife snaps a photo of me with her phone.
"Yeah, I guess. I'm just out here trickin' with her, to see how she rides." I shrug my shoulders, indifferent to his praise. This brings another round of chuckles, and I am suddenly feeling quite heady and full of myself.
Jokes aside, a real conversation ensues. We discuss the Apple Ipad, our kids, workouts that work us out, bad movies, weird neighbors that should have moved away long ago, and health care reform (just kidding on that last one). I am feeling pretty good; I don't typically converse with the neighbors without Elizabeth around, and especially over the past several months. 
The wind picks up, and I feel a chill below my belt-line.

I look down. My underwear stares back. So much for being cool.

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