Tuesday, November 29, 2005

the new bike

Dad called tonight, to tell me that Gramps is through the procedure.

"They put two stents in through his leg and his groin. Can you believe they thread tiny pieces of metal through your grandfather's beat-up arteries, all the way from his ankle to his heart?"

"I read an article about stents today. Bypass specialists everywhere are worried about the technology. It's supposed to be a billion-dollar market in 5 years."

"Your grandfather is okay; he's still in the hospital, but they moved him out of the ICU."

"Yes, I'm glad to hear that. Thank you for calling me and telling me that."

"You should call him."

"Ok, I'll do that soon. Let me know when he's home and I'll call him."

"Well, son, how's your bike?"

"It's pretty good! The seat gel has dried up a bit, so it's like sitting on a rock and pedaling. I'll probably get a new saddle before long, but right now my main concern is replacing the handlebar stem. The one that's on there is too long, and doesn't rise at all. With such a long crossbar I can't reach the handlebars comfortably, and the seat's not as high up as I'd like. The drivetrain and shifters are top-notch, though, and the thing pedals like a dream. The chain's a bit rusty, so I'll probably have that replaced when I get around to having it tuned."

"I just paid two hundred dollars to have it tuned."

"Two hundred bucks??? Well, they didn't replace the chain, the grips they installed are crap, and the front rim needs to be trued. The brakes are terrible, but they'll serve for a while. And about half the hosing needs to be replaced."

"That's an eight hundred dollar bike, you know. Worth every penny when I bought it."

"You got it from Costco, dad. And you never rode it. And you wouldn't let me ride it."

"They have top of the line bikes there. And you're riding it now, aren't you?"

"Costco sells bulk, dad. My Giant was a nicer bike and cheaper, too."

"I knew a guy who built his own bikes. In fact, he did pretty well building bikes, if I recall. I think he turned it into a nice little business."

"Right on. I wish I could do that."

"Yeah, his name's Doc. He decided he wanted to be a woman shortly after I met him."


"Went through the hormone treatment, surgeries, everything. He used to be this male Adonis, blonde hair, blue eyes, 6-6, everything. A guy. Now he's, well, gorgeous."

"Shouldn't you refer to Doc as 'she'? You know, now that she's had all that done to her, gone through it all and everything?"

"Well, I knew him initially as a 'he' and it's hard for me to just switch over."

"Isn't it a matter of respect? Like, this person needed to change their life in a drastic and difficult way to be happy, so shouldn't you respect their happiness at least and refer to them the way they want to be referred?"

"Oh, I can't respect him. He left a wife and two kids to do this. Just left 'em like that. I can't respect anyone who does that to their family. Anyway, I've had personal experiences with transvestites, so this isn't some preconditioned response."

"But still--"

"Look, I went out with a guy--this transvestite--and I didn't know she was a he until we were into some heavy petting. I freaked out. You don't do that to someone, fool them like that. So I don't like homosexuals and I don't like transvestites and if I don't want to deal with them then I'm not gonna do it. They can go live and I'm not saying anything bad, but I've had my bad experiences and I don't have to respect Doc's decision."

Sweat trails a thin line of irony from my ear to the end of my chin, and drips off onto the floor. I don't say anything.

"Anyway, he used to make bikes, but he apparently decided to go full-bore with this whole life change thing and he quit the bike business. But he got pretty wealthy building them while he was doing that."

I still don't know what to say.

"So you're gonna call grandpa soon, right? And wouldya do me a favor and call your two sisters to tell them the news. I have your number memorized, son, but theirs I don't know, and I'm driving so I can't get my book out."

"Yeah, dad, I'll call 'em."

"I still don't know what's wrong with the plasma, did you mess it up more when you were looking at it on Thanksgiving?"

"No, dad."

"The good news is I might make it through this winter. I just paid three thousand bucks to the credit cards, personal cards, and this child support thing is almost off my shoulders. Things are going to be tight this Christmas; good thing I've got you taken care of with the bike and your sister with her engine. It's just your other sister I'm worried about. Do you know what she wants?"

No mention of the woman's kitchen, and no bother mentioning the fact that he'll probably buy himself a new television before January.

"No, dad. I can't afford to participate in Christmas this year, so I haven't asked anyone what they want."

Pointed silence while I don't ask my father what he wants for Christmas.

"All right, son. Well enjoy that bike. Call your sisters."

"Let me know when grandpa gets out of the hospital."

"I will, son. You should call your grandparents."

"Ok, dad. I have to go finish my dishes--this is the first time I've done them in six weeks."

"How long?!"

"Thanks for letting me know about grandpa. Love you, dad."

"All right. Love you too, son."

Currently Listening:
By The Black Keys


Sudiegirl said...

Hey mon...I'm sorry your dad wasn't listening to you and that he had bad experiences with transvestites.

However, good job on standing up for yourself re: Christmas.

Best of luck to your grandfather, and thanks for stopping by my site!

who understands family insanity (and inanity) quite well.

carson said...

this is (mostly) fiction. but thanks anyway!