Monday, 27 February 2012

I Want To Ride My Bicycle

            I have a confession to make. I do not know how to ride a bicycle.
Now that the gasps of shock and mockery have subsided, allow me to explain. Yes it’s true, in my nearly 27 years on this planet I have somehow avoided learning to ride. I have traveled by three, four and five wheels but never two. Somehow I managed to avoid that classic childhood moment of figuring out that secret balance or whatever it is that one needs to ride a bike. And when I say I somehow avoided it, I mean that I might have tried once without training wheels found it very hard and so vowed to ‘never learn this stupid thing, because who needs to ride a bike anyway.’
            More often than not when I reveal this fact to somebody I am greeted with a wide-eyed look of bewilderment, followed with some sort of query as to how this can be. Which I always find somewhat amusing as it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to me. Bikes and bike riding just never figured into my life. People are aghast that this most basic of skills has eluded me all these years.
            I suppose that I can sort of relate to this level of shock. Indeed I find myself filled with similar feelings when someone informs me that they have never seen ‘The Godfather’ or eaten some good slow cooked pork belly. Some of you might find that comparison ridiculous, but for me it makes perfect sense because those are things that to me seem like fundamentals for anyone going through life. Fundamentals may seem about strong of a word but I think that just goes to show that everyone has a different take on life and how it should be lived.
            Each and every person leads a different life and it’s when commonalities are found that we find connections to others. And it’s through those connections that we are able to build a fuller and richer existence. It is with that thought in mind that I have now determined to learn the art of the bicycle. Now and then I do find myself thinking that ‘yes, it is a travesty that I can’t ride.’ Especially when I consider the culture of the city in which I have grown up and live. Vancouver is striving to be a green city and is blessed with some of the most beautiful scenery to be found. Not to mention the glory that is the Seawall. A wonderful feature of the city that I have never been able to fully enjoy as walking the entire length is a time consuming yet rewarding task. It also makes perfect sense for me to take up cycling as I do not own a car and grow weary of public transport.
            Many of you have heard me profess my intent to learn how to ride before so this might seem like a load of hogwash. But with the warmer weather fast approaching I think I am long overdue and I do relish the chance at proving the naysayers wrong. I have gained a dedicated teacher who thinks it silly that I have no riding ability and is determined to see me ride, even providing a loner bicycle. Perhaps one of the strongest points in favor of this teacher is that she actually rides on a regular basis.
            Many of the peanut-gallery who have expressed shock in the past over my apparent shocking inability, do absolutely no riding of their own. This fact always strikes me as mildly hypocritical. Being mocked and jeered for never learning a skill that my detractors themselves never use seems unfair. Yes, they may have already gained this skill and I have always been told that one never forgets (it’s like riding a bike) but they never use it. I on the other hand am almost always willing to sit down and re-watch The Godfather and am constantly on the look out for my next chance at a decadent pork belly dinner.
            I have no idea how long the learning process will be. It might only be an afternoon or a couple of days or perhaps weeks due to the impending falls and subsequent scraped knees and childlike whimpering – I don’t bounce the same way I used to. But the process starts this week.
            It is now one month till my 27th birthday and although I have no doubt it should not take me that long to learn, I have chosen that day (weather depending) to make my debut. And so, loyal readers, I propose to you that on that day you join me for a tour of the aforementioned Seawall. This call goes out especially to those of you who in the past have scoffed at my lack of ability and yet cannot yourselves remember the last time you went for a ride.
            Finally I will add that if indeed I am successful and do achieve my goal of a birthday ride – of course to be followed by champagne and balloons – that those of you out there should follow my lead and take the time to enjoy one of those things that somebody has once expressed shock you have not done. And should it be watching The Godfather or any other such essential cinematic work I will gladly join you. I’ll even bring the refreshments and to me that sounds like an offer you can’t refuse.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Valentines Shmalentines

            Love is in the air. Romance is flowing along with plenty of wine. Couples everywhere are rejoicing while single folks are pretending not to care while weeping in there frozen dinners for one. Somewhere a sadistic little toddler is sniping people with arrows and cash registers are exploding at every florist, chocolatier and card shop. It must be Valentine’s Day. Which in my opinion is the worst of the non-holiday event days.
            Other similar non-holiday events are St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween. The major difference with these days is that both of them are used as excuses for unnecessary partying and mass consumption of alcohol. Not to mention the less than conservative attire to be worn, particularly on Halloween. Where as this day of love is not used as an excuse to have fun, but instead is a day of forced guilt and affection. A day when we are told how to act and what sort of mood to be in and what to buy, all under the guise that it’s about love.
            Now I don’t want you to think that I’m am anti-love or have some sort of hate-on for Valentine’s Day. It is indeed quite the opposite. I’m all for love and romance, especially of the hopeless kind – you know grand gestures and magical moments and all that other mushy stuff. It’s just that on this day it is forced upon us. To me the idea of a romantic obligation seems like a bit of an oxymoron.
            Also wrapped up in this notion of obliged romance is that it’s all on the men. Over the last few days everywhere I turn I see warning signs to men not to forget the big day. Open the funny pages and all the male characters are fretting because they have to find the perfect gift for their girlfriends/wives/sweethearts. All the while the women are adding more pressure with hits and jabs, while waiting to be swept off their feet.
            It’s not just in the comics where this idea prevails. Flip through the rest of the paper and you can find many other articles telling guys what the perfect gift is and what women really want for Valentine’s Day. And it’s not limited to the print media either. I must have seen half a dozen TV ‘news’ stories in the last week with lead-ins along the lines of  “Well Valentine’s is just around the corner and one local resident is helping out all those guys who haven’t got a clue what to get” or “OK fellas, not sure what to get your special lady, well here is dating advice columnist such and such to tell you what to do and how to do it.”
            I just don’t see how bombarding someone with the notion that if they don’t shell out big for V-Day they’re a lousy partner. I fail to see the romance in a man showing up, gift in hand and saying “Here Sweetie. I got you this and I know you’ll like it because I read all the advice columns, articles, wish lists and even the consumer report on most popular Valentine’s gifts for women…so…sex please”.
            Again I feel I should mention that I am not anti-love or romance, I’m just not a fan of a large build up and emphasis on a single day. I’m also not saying that you shouldn’t do something nice for that special someone today. In fact I think you should, but don’t let it be because you feel obliged. Do it because of the caring and love you may have for one another.
            I also feel that by going to all the trouble of some elaborate dog and pony show to display your love on this single day it diminishes all the other days. It’s as if by going all out on V-day you can slack off all year. But why does it have to be today? Why not three days from now? Or three weeks? What’s wrong with showing up with flowers and making dinner just because it’s a Wednesday or meeting your guy/gal at the end of a day to walk home with them or what have you?
            It just seems to me that if you have a special someone why wait for one day to be outlandish. Why not spread it around all the time and not force each other into spending huge amounts of cash and effort into one day. Anyway I’ve got to go because the stores will be closing soon and I just realized I don’t have the perfect gift yet…Oh God, Oh God, I’m screwed what am I to do. I should have listened more to all those advice columns. Looks like I’ll be sleeping on the couch. Happy Valentine’s Day.