4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Sports Maintenance

'Now, let's talk about derailleur adjustments," says a male ectomorph I'll call Henry. Henry uses the airline-stewardess "happy-to-serve-you-and-I'd-like-to-watch-you-die" dialect for public discourse. He is employed as a bicycle repairman, which is a job title from yesteryear. Nowadays, bike repairmen are hip, they have attitude, they work in stores that sell $2000 bicycles and $100 shorts; they are somebody. We seven, who are taking this six-and-a-half-hour class on bicycle maintenance, are nobody. We are privileged to be here on a too-early Sunday morning, privileged to hear the Word.

I am the most inept pupil of seven. I knew it was going to be like this. I knew it was going to be exactly like this.

Although some part of me has always understood I have -- how shall I put this? -- a certain disinclination when it comes to the general field of mechanics, I didn't realize how all-encompassing that disinclination was until I hit my teenage years. It was on that ground I encountered the puzzle of making-out-with-girl-while-slyly-placing-two-hands-on-the-backside-of-her-brassiere-in-order-to-undo-brassiere-hooks. Said mechanical problem was a necessary -- nay, a mandatory step one had to complete in order to proceed.

It was impossible for me. Unhooking brassieres became a curse. I could see the brassiere test rushing up at me from way down the railroad tracks, say, the first brush of fingers as we walked toward my car. The test-seeing caused great anxiety in itself. When unhooking time came I would fumble, and every fumble produced more anxiety, which produced droplets of sweat, which caused more fumbles, which begot great goblets of sweat, which inevitably led to manly sweat dripping onto girl's face and blouse. Fellas: females often find great goblets of male sweat to be unromantic.

At least that's what they told me on their way home. Very quickly I learned to say, "You take off your clothes, I'll take off mine, we'll meet in the middle of the bed."

Sadly, that life-saving technique didn't work with trucks, carpentry, plumbing, household repair, or any of the 10,000 fix-it problems a man is supposed to master. Worse, I've always been attracted to a life where competency in fix-it problems is number one. I lived in a cabin I built in Alaska. That was home base for 25 years. A mile walk in from the nearest dirt road, no water, no electricity. Absolutely absurd for me. My domestic arrangements were clumsy, uncomfortable, idiosyncratic (the cabin door opened inward as a welcoming gesture for ravenous black bears; not outward, as it did in every other Alaska cabin), and eternally half done.

Seemed okay to me.

Time passes. My mechanical abilities do not undergo transformation, but my knees do. Aforementioned body parts demand a bicycle. I figured if I was going to ride a bike, I should learn how to fix flats and maybe one or two other maintenance tricks. It seemed, as the deer said to the headlight, like a pretty good idea at the time.

Henry points to his carbon fiber bicycle frame, which is hanging on a bike stand, and says, "Let's say the current front derailleur is a triple-chain Shimano. The question is, can you replace the front derailleur with any Ultegra triple?"

I break in, "What's a derailleur?"

Henry, winces, answers in bicycle lingo at triple-time speed. I do not hear the word, "derailleur" at any point during his spiel. His last sentence is, "Make sure your adjustment screw position is correct and the guide plates are parallel to the chain."

I ask, "What's a derailleur?" Silence. "Show me." This is said in a hostile, "Give me what you know about derailleurs, fucker," tone of voice. I'm four hours into this, I'm hungry, I have a headache, I'm tired of Henry's bullshit, I want to get to the flat-tire stuff, and I want to get to it now.

Henry makes his airline-stewardess smile and says, "We'll get to that in a minute," and begins a new bicycle monologue.

This kicks off an interior conversation that goes like this: "Yes, Henry's a pompous windbag, but he knows more about bicycles than the seven of us put together. Henry has probably taught this class for years, and more than likely will bring everything together at the end. It is not for me to try and reorder the structure of his lecture. And, this is a perfect opportunity to practice patience. God knows I need it. I should fade into the background, let bicycle maintenance come to me. And while I'm at it, I could have a little compassion for Henry; his arrogance is probably a cover for a lifetime of bad feelings. Cut the lad some slack, it will be good for both of us."

I draw in a slow, calming breath, sit up in my chair, fix a steady gaze upon Henry's face, and say, "Show me the derailleur. NOW!"

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Greensky Bluegrass 20th Anniversary, Sam Smith Livestream from Abbey Road, Full Moon Halloween Hike

Events October 29-October 31, 2020
Next Article

Beating back fear of Tijuana, why I keep thinking about Mexico, a cross-border kidnapping

The normalcy of smuggling across the line, party people re-take TJ, deported but not angry

'Now, let's talk about derailleur adjustments," says a male ectomorph I'll call Henry. Henry uses the airline-stewardess "happy-to-serve-you-and-I'd-like-to-watch-you-die" dialect for public discourse. He is employed as a bicycle repairman, which is a job title from yesteryear. Nowadays, bike repairmen are hip, they have attitude, they work in stores that sell $2000 bicycles and $100 shorts; they are somebody. We seven, who are taking this six-and-a-half-hour class on bicycle maintenance, are nobody. We are privileged to be here on a too-early Sunday morning, privileged to hear the Word.

I am the most inept pupil of seven. I knew it was going to be like this. I knew it was going to be exactly like this.

Although some part of me has always understood I have -- how shall I put this? -- a certain disinclination when it comes to the general field of mechanics, I didn't realize how all-encompassing that disinclination was until I hit my teenage years. It was on that ground I encountered the puzzle of making-out-with-girl-while-slyly-placing-two-hands-on-the-backside-of-her-brassiere-in-order-to-undo-brassiere-hooks. Said mechanical problem was a necessary -- nay, a mandatory step one had to complete in order to proceed.

It was impossible for me. Unhooking brassieres became a curse. I could see the brassiere test rushing up at me from way down the railroad tracks, say, the first brush of fingers as we walked toward my car. The test-seeing caused great anxiety in itself. When unhooking time came I would fumble, and every fumble produced more anxiety, which produced droplets of sweat, which caused more fumbles, which begot great goblets of sweat, which inevitably led to manly sweat dripping onto girl's face and blouse. Fellas: females often find great goblets of male sweat to be unromantic.

At least that's what they told me on their way home. Very quickly I learned to say, "You take off your clothes, I'll take off mine, we'll meet in the middle of the bed."

Sadly, that life-saving technique didn't work with trucks, carpentry, plumbing, household repair, or any of the 10,000 fix-it problems a man is supposed to master. Worse, I've always been attracted to a life where competency in fix-it problems is number one. I lived in a cabin I built in Alaska. That was home base for 25 years. A mile walk in from the nearest dirt road, no water, no electricity. Absolutely absurd for me. My domestic arrangements were clumsy, uncomfortable, idiosyncratic (the cabin door opened inward as a welcoming gesture for ravenous black bears; not outward, as it did in every other Alaska cabin), and eternally half done.

Seemed okay to me.

Time passes. My mechanical abilities do not undergo transformation, but my knees do. Aforementioned body parts demand a bicycle. I figured if I was going to ride a bike, I should learn how to fix flats and maybe one or two other maintenance tricks. It seemed, as the deer said to the headlight, like a pretty good idea at the time.

Henry points to his carbon fiber bicycle frame, which is hanging on a bike stand, and says, "Let's say the current front derailleur is a triple-chain Shimano. The question is, can you replace the front derailleur with any Ultegra triple?"

I break in, "What's a derailleur?"

Henry, winces, answers in bicycle lingo at triple-time speed. I do not hear the word, "derailleur" at any point during his spiel. His last sentence is, "Make sure your adjustment screw position is correct and the guide plates are parallel to the chain."

I ask, "What's a derailleur?" Silence. "Show me." This is said in a hostile, "Give me what you know about derailleurs, fucker," tone of voice. I'm four hours into this, I'm hungry, I have a headache, I'm tired of Henry's bullshit, I want to get to the flat-tire stuff, and I want to get to it now.

Henry makes his airline-stewardess smile and says, "We'll get to that in a minute," and begins a new bicycle monologue.

This kicks off an interior conversation that goes like this: "Yes, Henry's a pompous windbag, but he knows more about bicycles than the seven of us put together. Henry has probably taught this class for years, and more than likely will bring everything together at the end. It is not for me to try and reorder the structure of his lecture. And, this is a perfect opportunity to practice patience. God knows I need it. I should fade into the background, let bicycle maintenance come to me. And while I'm at it, I could have a little compassion for Henry; his arrogance is probably a cover for a lifetime of bad feelings. Cut the lad some slack, it will be good for both of us."

I draw in a slow, calming breath, sit up in my chair, fix a steady gaze upon Henry's face, and say, "Show me the derailleur. NOW!"

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Cooler weather just an opening for Pelly's clam chowder

Northwest oysters, local fish, and a sourdough bread bowl in Carlsbad
Next Article

Ryan Bowers’ posthumous collaboration with Crhymes

“His fingers kept twitching. His sweaty head was a little shaky. His lips were moving, but no words were coming out.”
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close