First, I need to refute Stuie’s slanderous comment in the “Planning Part I” post. Let it be known that my driver’s license photo is not ugly…
…but that reminds me of something…
…a dream that I’ve had. It was a homely dream, but it was fond of good peanut butter cookies, so stay with me.
Three years ago, I spent my summer working at the little deli-café Penny’s Kitchen in my hometown. I was a waitress that year. One sunny, skybluepink afternoon, a slow day, I stood, daydreaming at the cash register behind the counter drinking a blueberry, chai smoothie and staring through the huge, storefront windows out into the street.
Three bicyclers rolled up in front of the restaurant, two guys and a female. They looked hardcore with their flashy, neon spandex and bike wagons and shiny helmets. I wanted a shiny helmet, then, too. They came in and took off their Oakleys. It became apparent that the trio had received much sun. They appeared to be in their mid-thirties. They looked young.
They carried small bags and headed for the bathrooms. They finished in the potty then found a table near an outlet and plugged in various chargers and pulled out computers. Once settled, they approached the cash register.
The two guys ordered first. They spoke in southern accents. The one guy that maybe looked like Jack London (I’m only guessing, as I don’t know what Jack London looks like) ordered coffee, a turkey club, and a peanut butter cookie. The other guy, perhaps Jack London’s scruffy, stocky side kick, bought a water, a turkey pesto, and a peanut butter cookie. They returned to their table. The female lingered, rigorously investigating the pastry case, cocking her dirty-haired ginger head.
I asked, “You guys bike a long way?”
“Oh, about fifty miles today,” she replied gruffly.
“Whoa. Long distance trip, eh? Where you guys start from?”
“Nashville.” And she said that very prettily. She was very pretty in a way. “How do your peanut butter cookies compare to your Danishes? I’d rather have a Danish than an average peanut butter cookie.”
I said that the peanut butter cookies were very good. That was the truth.
“I’ll have two , then, and I’ll have a pastrami sandwich.” I stared into her eyes, or, rather, the mono-brow above her eyes—a mono-brow that, not only functioned to eliminate the glare in her eyes, it seemed to dampen sound and improve the surrounding air quality. “With a side of ranch.”
“That’ll be nine dollars and seven cents. So you guys just decided to bike from Nashville to northern Michigan? That’s awesome.”
She smiled a sweet smile. Her mouth looked like a rusty, mangled saw blade. She nodded and paid, and I thanked her. While I put in the order for the food, she took another, quick glance at the pastry case. She bent to get a better view of the pies on the bottom shelf. It was likely that she and Babar had similar trouble finding pants that fit. Maybe, this was a product of her biking.
She went to her table. I wondered why the Beach Boys didn’t sing about Redwood-legged, barrel-shaped bicyclers from Nashville in “California Girls.”
I brought the biker gang their food. They ate, and each bought another peanut butter cookie for the road. And they rode on.
I was daydreaming again. I wondered what had attracted me to a girl that may not have had the looks to solicit the fare to cross the Halfpenny Bridge. It wasn’t a physical attraction, I decided, as I munched on a peanut butter cookie. She had swag. And it wasn’t just the troglodyte, Jack London and his side kick had swag, too. Hell, biker Jack London probably looked like a Klingon. Just looks, though. They were all ragged and foreign and beautiful. They were a part of an unknown America brought to me by bicycle, a wild-haggard America, a noble-vagabond America. And, then, I realized the dream.
That story may or may not have been based on a true story. That is how dreams go, but, I hope it reoccurs. I hope that home-ly American beauty dream returns. It probably won’t come to me when I walk around in my cap and gown on May 8th, when I watch the season finale of House, when I down California rolls in San Diego. It’ll come back, though, when I’m struggling over the purple mountains of the west, when I’m riding past tired miles of fields of grain. I will have it, again, when our spacious, highway sky is darkened by rainfall.