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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Other Bicycle Misadventure

At 18, I was keeping body and soul together by living in at a foster home, helping with housework, cooking, shopping, laundry, yard work, the mountains of paperwork involved in fostering minors for Los Angeles County, and general mischief. It was a place with all kinds of dynamics for potential disaster and disgrace. The parents were a regular Joe Iowan displaced to southern California and his extremely unusual French Moroccan wife. They had two young adopted children, although they were in their early 50s. Gary was 5 and Arlette was 3. There was Limes, 18. And 8 adolescent males ranging from 15 to nearly 18. There were more intrigues, attractions, connections and fallings-out than one can imagine. And these "parents" were oblivious. They'd go off for long weekends or mini-vacations, leaving Limes in charge. Come on, it was 1971. What do you think went on when an 18-year-old was left as the "adult"? Ours was known as the party house.

None of the fostered young men owned a car. A couple owned bicycles. On a warm afternoon, I asked if I could use one of the bikes to take Arlette for a ride. She was an adorable child. If one were a doll designer, one would want the face to look like Arlette's. I'm ashamed today to say I thought it was OK to put a 3-year-old on the handlebars of a bicycle and pedal her up and down a blacktop alley. Helmets weren't yet heard of, at least by me. She giggled and we chatted and I took her up and down the alley for probably half an hour.

The German Shepherd showed himself after we'd been at it for awhile. I'm not a big fan of dogs, and particularly not big dogs. It began to lope along just behind us to the right and I didn't care much for that. I said nothing to Arlette, but I was a little concerned because he kept steady pace with us and seemed aggressive. He wasn't going away. At the point in the alley where I was the farthest away from home, two other huge dogs joined the Shepherd and started circling us. They took turns snapping at the back tire. I was having trouble landing on what I should do.

I pedaled hard toward home, thinking I'd holler out for some of the guys to help us. Drew near the House of Mirth where some dozen people lived . . . nobody in the yard! Kept pedaling fast and hard, back and forth, yelling at those miserable dogs as much as they were snarling at us. Arlette didn't seem to notice anything. The dogs were leaping into the air just at the back tire, snapping . . . . pack animals seem to get more excited as the chase progresses. Not that I'm a dog psychologist.

On my umpteenth zoom toward the house, there were suddenly a number of home dudes in the yard. I screamed out my plight and caused a little commotion. Young men scrambled everywhere, whooping like warriors, picking up rocks, a broom, a rake and a chair to shake or throw at the dogs. I hoped no one would hit Arlette or me. But one of the guys seemed to keep his head - this was Ex. I saw him gesture to one of the others, "come with me". They stepped out into the alley and I aimed toward them, slowing the bike. From their perspective we had to look pretty frightening - moving bicycle, frightened child, frightened chick and a maelstrom of mangy curs. Ex executed a pretty nifty yank of Arlette off the handlebars and swiftly handed her to the other young man.

Relief hit me pretty hard as I watched the home dude carry Arlette inside. My feet were on the ground steadying the bike, but my knees were knocking. I saw Ex turn back toward me after handing Arlette off. The noise from the dogs was deafening and I could smell them. The world kind of stopped for a moment and that's when that German Shepherd took a flying leap ~ the animal bit me sufficiently to remove a piece of my 501s and my glutes. Ex executed another pretty swift move, just as the pack of my protectors descended on the pack of dogs. He yanked off his T-shirt and wrapped it around the middle of me so my humiliation could not be seen by the others. He went with me to the emergency room and sat in the hallway while I was stitched up.

I married him 7 years later and had a child with him 19 years later. He was in my life 32 years - by far the longest of anyone I've ever known. Our divorce was ugly, but I have to give him this: he was a good man to have around in a pinch.

In my ears right now: Judy Collins ~ Who Knows Where the Time Goes. I owned that album when the dog bit me.

Something that charmed me today: the picture above that looks like a huge dog is about to devour a child . . . . is actually a beloved family pet trying to get to the bubbles the child is blowing.


  1. Wow, what a story! That probably kept you off the bike for awhile (like, forever??).

  2. NOW you know why I say "I'm not a cyclist"! From Tiny Tears to a chunk of my derriere being chewed off, I didn't have my best experiences on a bicycle. But I know about them and about those of you who love them. I GET the passion of it. Mine just doesn't happen to be for the bike.