What do I call this story? I may have to let you choose. You can decide after reading it. Some possibilities: Hold It; 27 Minutes of Hell; Hold On But Don’t Let Go; Squeeze and Don’t Let Go; Push ‘Em Back, Push ‘Em Back, Waaaaay Back; When the Stars Misalign; Gotta Go Now; Peristalsis To The End—You’re My Friend; and so on…
I had just gotten back from Long Island for a great Father’s Day. I unloaded the car and checked on a few things, put the air conditioner on, got the mail, erased the junk phone messages, and got ready to for a Lyft car to take me to Dick’s Sporting goods to get my buddy, my bicycle.
While waiting for the Lyft car, I filled the five birdfeeders in the backyard. The car arrived and I rode in my first Mercedes Lyft car. I got to Dick’s and got someone to help me in the bicycle section. After several minutes of procedural yada yada, a young man wheels my bike over to me.
I immediately notice a problem, which surprisingly or not, he did not notice. Namely, the rear tire which was brought in for repair, is totally flat. So much for Dick’s bicycle repair.
Okay, in all fairness, here is how the bike got there. Flat tire, I go to Dick’s and buy “Slime” which is fix-a-flat for a bike tire. I take it home, use it, it works, but the tire is not completely full of air. It has held the air I put in it when I used the “Slime”, but I thought it was a matter of time before it leaked again. So, I brought it to Dick’s to be looked at. The repair person uses a compressor to add more air since with my bike pump, I couldn’t get more air in the tire.
He puts more air in and then lets it sit overnight to see if it holds. He calls me the next day, says it is okay, and I leave it there over the weekend and go to pick it up on Monday, today. And here we are. I have a bike with a flat tire. And by the way, there was no charge for the “repair.”
The repair person is not in the store now, nor will he be for a couple of days. I have them put air in the tire. It seems to hold for the moment.
So, let me just say that there are so many points in this story where choices were made, and judgements. There are always choices. I chose not to leave my bike there. My confidence in their judgement was little to none. I now made another choice. I should have used the bathroom there. My internal thinking was I am a ten or twelve minute ride home. I can wait, let me just get going. Sigh.
I leave, and two minutes into my ride, the tire is totally flat. It is not good to ride on a totally flat bike tire. I will destroy the aluminum wheel, which equals more bucks to repair. I must walk the bike home. Note that thunderstorms are predicted for later this afternoon. At just moments after I start to walk the bike, I am getting indications from my stomach and bowels, that I will have to poop pretty soon. Ah, let me mention the Miralax that I took at 7 a.m. this morning. I take it every day. Somedays it works better than others. Wouldn’t you know it? Today was one of those days. I also have to pee, getting close to the uncomfortable stage, not far from critical. I am looking good, am I not?
The internal dialogue is something like this. “You have to tell yourself it is going to be thirty minutes until we get home. You need to fool your body.” That is what I tell myself, even though I am hoping it is much shorter. I started out from Dick’s at seven minutes before three. It is now about three. The stomach or colon cramps and insistence come in waves. I am telling myself this is good for my pelvic floor muscles. I am trying not to laugh at all at the absurdity of the timing. I start to chuckle and immediately catch myself because I will be wearing my pee and my poop shortly if I don’t focus. Focus. Focus.
I look around and think about where I could possibly pee as on and off I am leaking a few drops. I decide there is no practical place to hide and pee. Besides, if I started to pee I would probably poop myself at the same time. I just bear down and pull those muscles in harder. I cross a side street. I am starting to sweat profusely partly from the heat and partly from the intense concentration involved in controlling my bodily functions. I am getting desperate and decide to hell with my tire rim, I need to speed this up. Ah, mark this as not such a good choice in the list of choices made.
I ride the equivalent of fifteen seconds, maybe three pedals around, and I have problems. With the bike. The inner tube of the back tire has come out, come loose, and wrapped itself around the rear gears. It is partly torn and leaking the green slime all over the place. I can not wheel the bike the way it is now as the rear wheel is no longer turning. Getting on the bike was not, repeat, not, a good idea. Even though I was desperate. I cannot wheel the bike until I untangle the rear tube. Shit. Don’t say that word.
I must work fast. I rip the tube where it is already torn and manage after several minutes, tense minutes mind you, precious and very valuable minutes, tick tock, tick tock, I manage to rip the tube apart, get it out from around the gears, get it off the brake where it has also gotten stuck, and can now continue, with the tire flapping around and basically the aluminum wheel rolling on the ground. Onward, onward Christian soldier. Onward.
Hold, squeeze. Do not notice the discarded trash along the way that looks like a diaper that I could use right about now. Don’t worry about the splotch of green slime on my sunglasses because I have nothing to wipe it with and can’t take the time anyway. Seconds count. Look on the bright side. Really? Yes, really. It is not downpouring rain at the moment. Okay, that is good. The slime although it splattered all over, only got my glasses, not my clothes nor my shoes, and just a little on my half gloves that have palm cushioning that I wear to keep my hands from getting fatigued. Walk faster Neal.
I am walking as fast as I can without breaking into a jog. Oh no, no jogging. No can do. Just keep the pace. Keep walking. I am getting close. Tell myself twenty more minutes. It is really five or ten. Oh my. It is really critical. I do not want shit dripping down my leg(s) into my socks and my water shoes that I am wearing. As it is I am leaking from the front end but my t-shirt is very long and covers in front and back. Squeeze and think of something. What? No, do not think of the bathroom yet. Think of how strong you are. Think of working those pelvic and anal muscles. Think wait. Think wait. Wait. Wait. Hold. Hold. Almost there.
Cross at the light. Two blocks to go. Are you kidding me Neal?? What are you doing? A plastic license plate frame is lying in the street near my driveway. I stop to pick it up. Are you crazy? I get up the driveway, open the garage, put the bike in and I am trying to get my gloves off. Are you crazy? Get inside and poop. Go. Go. Gloves are not easy to get off. They are off, helmet off. Close garage door. Get front door unlocked. Get in. And………………..
You can draw your own conclusions. Yes I made it or no I didn’t.
Twenty-two minutes after three. Twenty-nine minutes in all. Twenty-seven of them from hell.
Only now can I laugh. Ahh, the foibles of aging. The foibles of life. It is fun. I get a kick out of it all. Yes, I do. It gives me a real boot sometimes.
Neal Harvey…good day.