Stitches, Bikes and Thieves
(sung to the tune of “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” by Cher)
I am showing off my projectile photoshopping skills again. Such a braggart. I actually have images of me sailing and posing on the hood of my car and on my bike but I wanted to make these images special.
A few weeks ago I was on Matt Dineen’s radio show and he talked about his bicycle being stolen so I promised to write this post:
I used to live on a little slip of land, south of a city, called Blahty-blah beach which was like 5 houses and a single road wide. I think the population was in the hundreds. I rented the second floor of a tiny cottage and it had really low ceilings (not an issue for a short person) and faux beams of styrofoam which were painted and grooved to look like wood. It meant they didn’t hurt when people hit their head on them. Tall people only got sorta hurt and had faux concussions so it was manageable and tall people still came over. The cottage was on a slant, italicized, which made me feel at home since I often feel like an italic, and so my little bureau with wheels often ended up on the other side of my bedroom. Driving to work one day I was stopped at a red light and a woman approaching from a steep road at a right angle to the main road slid down the hill and into the passenger side of my little Hyundai and totaled it. Inexplicably, as people will behave when there is a dollar involved, she tried to claim that it was a 50-50 fault accident. I guess my half of perceived fault was being stopped at the traffic light in her path. Yeah–that didn’t fly but her bitchy aggressive assertive insurance person tried to make it stick and the police thought it hilarious so we all had a good laugh.
My roommate had a friend who was on a sailboat racing team and he asked me to join one day because they were short one person to make the regulation team quantity and there I was. I knew nothing about sailing but that didn’t matter–they merely wanted somewhat light enough (I was at about 100 pounds then so i was certainly light enough to be the light person) to ride the bow and scout for marks without upsetting the balance. They also wanted to be the only team with a female member as I later found out. So they’d pick me up every Wednesday after work at the dock down the road and off we’d go into the sunset. Our boat was custom-built for racing (fancy!) so we had an 18 minute handicap which meant that we had to win a race by 19 minutes in order to actually win it. Any boat crossing the finish within 18 minutes after us would actually be the winner. Our boat was the Animal House boat as it was stocked with beer and the rule (which the captain made so as to pretend we were there to drink second, and race first) was that we had to wait till we were half a mile out from the dock to open the first beer. We were conscientious about this. We used the bathroom below deck a lot. Had I not been female-ish-ly on the team they might not have bothered climbing down the stairs.
As we passed the other serious, hard-working and uniformly dressed teams (who all very blonde-ly, blue-eyed-ly, and preppy-ly looked like they were on a photo shoot for Eddie Bauer – the opposite of our general collective aesthetic), our captain, Dick, loved to raise his beer and gloat. We were the misfits. I liked being the only female and pretending to sail even though I knew I got the gig only because I was underweight and female. I like pretend.
Anyway-things got crazy with the totaled car thing and it took 6 months for the loan company to find the title (actually, I found it by way of an aggressive campaign of calling every bank in the state and asking them to look in their dead files for a perhaps incorrectly-delivered title, as perhaps haplessly dropped off by the “runner” person employed by the dealership who registers cars and etc for dealers, but that’s a long and now-hilarious story) and this meant I still had to make payments on that long-gone Hyundai and couldn’t buy another car, so I started riding my bike to work and changing into a suit in the bathroom. I felt like Superwoman and Office Barbie all in one, though it kinda sucked, being winter. This was one of those *real world* jobs with the suits and the officious meetings and the orderings-arounds, so I began riding my bike everywhere and it became both mode of transport and favorite pastime. *Someone* had stolen my basket so I had to ride home from the grocery store (uphill, no, really) with a bag of groceries or my dry-cleaning cradled in one arm. But I was doing it and having fun so I got really into biking.
Then one weekend some friends and I decided to participate in a 2 day 150-mile bike ride to benefit MS which went from Boston to Rhode Island and back. My friends Chica and Otra Chica put their bikes on a rack on the roof of Chica’s car and drove out the two miles from where they lived to my italic cottage the night before we were due (at 5 am) to report to the starting place (where we started). When they pulled into the driveway we brought their overnight bags up first and had a beer and then went down to take the bikes off the roof and Otra Chica’s bike was missing! There was no time to rent a bike as it was now 9 pm and we had to leave at dawn but I had another old bike in the non-italic basement laundry room so we decided Otra Chica would ride that one.
After the weekend of the race I made it my sole mission to get the stolen bike back. Since Otra Chica had borrowed it she had to buy it from the owner and that hurt — writing a check for a bike never ridden. After work each night I walked around the neighborhood and asked the local kids who might have stolen a bike. They all gave each other the knowing side-eye so it was clear that this little slip of land had a known rascal/bicycle thief.
One day one of the local boys and his sister showed up at my cottage (oh — and we had a real live seal living on the dock behind us! I called him Stewball; after that old Peter, Paul and Mary Song (Oh Stewball was a racehorr-rrse, and I wish he were mine…. he never drank water, her only drank wine…). He was only there in the mornings and evenings, and we never actually saw him drink wine. In between I suspected he went to work, just like me!) and gave me the name of the thief who I will call Jason Colonic. It seemed that Jason stole little kids’ big wheels, big kids bikes, random toys, and anything he could get his hands on so he was a known entity on that island. He reputedly had the kind of parents who were in denial and freaked out if anyone questioned their little angel, as was conformed when I finally got hold of the little “rascal”. I bet he’s in jail now. Totally. I called the police who laughed because they knew all about JasonPalabro (partly his real name, and partly sorta not) and knew of his “angelic and oft-wrongly-accused” ways and his angel-bearing parents. They said they could do nothing, even though Jason had bragged about stealing the bike from the roof rack to said helpful neighborhood kid with his said sister.
I pondered, stewed, analyzed, and plotted. I patrolled the little working class seaside neighborhood most nights after work, without a plan, passing the house where the guy let his pet rabbit hang out on the front lawn with his bird who, every time you heard the phone ring from inside the house, would yell, “Bob! Telephone! Telephone!” while the bunny hopped about, and the house with all the cars on the lawn and the one with all the Harelys (which spellcheck wants to change to “Harelips”). It was a scenic little ‘hood and though I was on a serious mission, I enjoyed the sunset whilst I patrolled and strolled, imaginary Detective Badge and Secret Spy Decoder Ring cleverly hidden on my person.
Then one day I was driving down the main road to the dock to catch the boat for the sailboat race (I was late, so I drove the 6 blocks) and I passed a kid on a bike that fit the description (I had never actually seen the kid, or the bike, pre-theft, but sometimes you just *know*) and I looked in my rear view mirror and at that same moment the kid looked over his shoulder with what looked like fear, and started riding faster so I just knew he was the famous Jason who’d been terrorizing the neighborhood, reportedly since shortly after birth. So, though I was late for my race, I pulled a u-turn and chased him.
Off the main road were a bunch of side streets, all dead ends where the land met the sea, and I chased the little shit angel up and down every street. He’d cut through backyards but I’d find him on the next one as I drove rather madly in my Eggplant. I had bought a little very-used 1982 Chevy Chevette Scooter for $300 because I sometimes needed to get places in the rain and was tired of waiting for the insurance company to find my title and reimburse me for the totaled car. We called it The Eggplant because it looked like one as it had once been that funny purpley-maroon but was now faded and the interior was mustardy color and all beat up–just like an eggplant; inside and out. It shifted hard–like a truck. Like the trucks I have rented (and parallel parked on moving days in Boston, I might proudly add) and loved.
I ran into the little shit angel at one point on his front yard and when he ran into the house to hide; I stood on his front lawn and yelled, “Jason Palabro, I know it’s you and I know that’s my bike, and I am not giving up till I get it back. I have already called the police and they will be here any minute. Give yourself up NOW”, as imaginary SWAT team assembled and my Secret Spy decoder Ring beeped crazily.
The little shit angel jumped on the bike (he was 16, a little old to be stealing Bigwheels from the 2 year-olds in the neighborhood), and rode back out to the main road. I followed him closely on his heels, and as he was riding on the sidewalk, I drove the eggplant up over the curb (adrenaline) and drove close enough so that one of my front tires nudged him gently off the bike and onto the ground. Seriously–it was just the gentlest tap. No thieves were injured in this caper. Ok, actually I sorta hit him and knocked him off the bike (adrenaline).
I then jumped out and he started yammering that he didn’t steal it, he had merely bought it for $50 from a friend and didn’t know it was stolen, it was just lying somewhere, his mother gave it to him, his dog ate it, and so on, to which I exhibited a non-sympathetic, faux sympathetic response but did offer to reimburse his $50 should he bring his friend to me (alive) to collaborate his tale. I ordered him to put the bike in the trunk of The Eggplant and ran home to lock it in the laundry room and then zipped back down to the dock just in time to see the sailboat leaving without me. But they came back for me, and we won the race. Although, during the race I got hit by the boom thingie (we cleaned the wound with Budweiser) which seemed to greatly please the captain as, at every boat we passed he’d point to his beer and the bloody rag tied around my head and yell, “Hey losers–we are kicking your asses, suckers, and we have an injury.” Those were the days.
I heard it was a fabulous victory party at the yacht club later; I was busy getting stitches in my face.
The moral of the story: No deed goes unrewarded.
This is a giant cat. it’s a really big, gigantic cat. It is so real, not like my photoshopping. You can tell. Cher got an Oscar and she ran to Giant cat’s house to show him right away. This is a test.