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Sunday, November 6, 2016

Gladys Has Some "Work" Done...

"Thirty-nine and holding, a-holdin' onto everything I can...."
                                                                            Jerry Lee Lewis

There comes a time in a woman's life when she experiences a mid-life crisis of sorts.
Perhaps "crisis" is too strong a word; "conspiracy" might be a better one: when her mirror conspires against her and her clothing sends back mixed messages. The mirror works its subtleties (Hey, I'm just the messenger here...): a new crop of wrinkles...the older ones more deeply furrowed. And the chin, a new, pendulous look, the skin decidedly dewlapping under her jaw, the corners of her eyes present like river deltas seen from the International Space Station. And is that a trace of mustachio sprouting from the ridges of her philtrum? Her clothes just don't fit like they used to: it's a wrestling match each time she puts on her jeans which for some time now she hasn't been able to "slip" on. Come buttoning time her waistline protests the strangling snugness; her fingers protest the extra stress. At the shopping mall she no longer notices the occasional male shopper fix her with a stare, his eyes linger flatteringly a bit longer than they should. Now even window display manikins are more ogled than she.

Thus her decision: time to cinch things up a bit, mortar over a wrinkle or two, shore up the sagging anatomy, punch down that swelling muffin top, subject herself to a blast or two from the laser. She's not about to go through the next ten or twenty years looking like she's aged ten or twenty years. And so she goes where she needs to go; does what she needs to do; has some "work done...."

Gladys turns forty this year, and the old dame has been around the Loop a time or two. Who knows how much mileage her old frame chocked up before she started hauling me around the Valley. She's had her share of humiliation, too. Age discrimination, I guess you'd call the time she was parked roadside while I talked with a neighbor and a wannabe Tour de Francer pedaled by, looked at her and sneered, "Nice ride." Those forty years have taken their toll on my Valley companion. One clear morning a while back, I wheeled Gladys out of the garage and discovered her rear tire was flat. The tire would not take air, so I removed the wheel, pried the tire from the rim, and using the skills learned in my youth (like swimming, you never forget), yanked the tube, and by refilling it, located a small tear by the valve stem. I purchased a patch kit from Freddie's, fashioned a patch and cemented it over the rip. But to no avail: the tube would not hold air.

Where problems mechanical are involved, there comes a time (to quote the famed Yankee catcher Yogi Berra, "And I've had a lot of 'em"), when you realize you are way out of your league; your tools just scoff at you. Such was the case with Gladys's condition. The rear wheel itself was a disaster. A couple of spokes were missing. One spoke had snapped and wound itself around the axle like a spring. The remaining spokes were loose. A bike physician said finding a replacement wheel for a three-speed girl's 1976 Columbia Tourist III would be near to impossible. The wheel would have to be reconstructed. Only a complete face lift could repair Gladys's rear end.

Gladys was a "rescue" bike. I paid fifty dollars for her. Wheel reconstruction would cost $105, the Dr. said. Did I want to pay double her cost to get her healthy again? It didn't take moment's pause for my decision. We have a history, Gladys and I. I wasn't about to let a few extra dollars spoil our decades-old relationship. After all, you can't put a price on nostalgia.

Presently Gladys is recuperating in the garage, awaiting her reconstructed rear wheel. Any "Get Well" wishes or "Speedy Recovery" sentiments on her behalf may be sent to her C/O The Ripple.

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  2. Glad you got 'er fixed up! Is the wheel on yet? :-)

    1. I haven't installed Gladys's rear end yet. She wouldn't like to venture out in this weather anyway. Thanks for your referral to the bike doctor and for transporting her vital parts. TMJ