I love a blog post that builds to a dramatic conclusion– that moment where the hero (me) says the perfect thing to the jerk at the gas station or when I finally summon the courage to ask for another breadstick, even though they’re slathered in butter and I’m surrounded by skinny people who won’t touch ’em.
This isn’t one of those blog posts.
There will be no crescendo of righteousness or perfect final quip, but it will be the truth and the truth is that I don’t always have a snarky retort. Sometimes I just have silence and whatever look is on my face in the moment.
That’s what I had Sunday morning when I picked out a bike for spin class. I’d brought along a piece of bona fide literature, but dumped it as soon as I saw the People magazine with that guy from Glee on it. My nose buried in Cory Monteith’s pain, I didn’t see one of the gym regulars come up beside me– too close– and start talking to me. Sort of.
“That’s my bike,” I heard her say, while I was still reading about Cory’s Canadian childhood and the odds he beat to end up on a hit show. She stepped even closer and repeated. “That’s my bike. I’m always on that bike.”
First I stared at her, then I stared at the 15 empty bikes in the room. Then I went back to People.
“That didn’t even phase you, did it?” She never stopped staring at me.
I looked up again and couldn’t think of a single thing to say. Had she asked me directly to move, there would be something to negotiate, and honestly, I would have done it. Because I get it. I get routine and claiming shit at the gym and feeling attached to stuff that doesn’t actually belong to you. It was important to her– clearly– and not to me; I picked that bike only because it was close to the exit.
I didn’t know what to do with her statements about “her” bike, and the class was starting in one minute. It would have taken at least that long to unhook my shoes from “her” bike, move my unread copy of Crime and Punishment, and establish some intimacy with a new bike.
Wasn’t gonna happen.
Throwing her hands up, she chose the bike right next to me. I guess it was the next best thing to being on her beloved LifeCycle. All through class I could hear sighs and grunts that seemed to suggest that her class experience was ruined because lousy me had stolen her bike. I never looked over at her, because I was scared of engaging.
When the class was over, I wiped down “her” bike and left the room. I watched her adjust her black sweatband with a huff of negative energy as I turned the corner.
The story would be better if I had sent her Zen-like blessings of love and peace throughout class or if I rolled out a zinger like some sassy sitcom star– you know, whatever today’s version of “Kiss My Grits” is. Maybe I could have come up with some life lesson about serenity in the face of other people’s “stuff” or some manifestation of will to power. But none of that happened.
I was silent and that’s the whole story.