Tuesday, 22 May 2018


            After I got home from the food bank on Saturday I had about half an hour to chill before taking my bike to wait in front of Bike Pirates for the shop to open. I finished my cold coffee, did a bit of writing and then left. I was there half an hour early because I really don’t like having to be on their waiting list.
I was the first one there, propped my bike against a tree and began reading my book. Some people looked at me funny for standing there and reading but their reaction wasn’t negative. Some of them looked like they thought I was going to ask them for change but then they were puzzled by the book.
The second person to arrive was a very amicable Australian guy who chatted with me briefly and wanted to know if anyone besides me was ahead of him. He said he was going for a coffee and actually offered to bring me back one. That was nice and I thanked him but declined his offer, explaining that I live nearby. When I thought about it afterwards though my explanation didn’t make much sense. What would be the relevance of living nearby? I guess I meant that I could go home and get something, but really the truth was that I’d just had a coffee and didn’t want one. If I had wanted one, living nearby would not have kept me from accepting his offer.
A couple more guys came and then more and more until there were at least twenty. We all kind of remembered the order, although there wasn’t much of an ordered line-up. It was more like a gauntlet through which pedestrians had to pass made of people with bicycles. It was quite a contrast to two days before when there were just two of us waiting when Bike Pirates opened at noon.
The fourth guy to arrive was looking at his phone and asked how to spell “disdain”. I told him it was d-i-s-t-a-i-n. He wondered if “distain” was an adjective. I told him that “distain” is a noun but “distainful” would be an adjective. He wondered what it means if you say, “He looked at him with distain”. This set off a discussion as several people joined in with their opinion. I told him it’s like a kind of contempt in reaction to something someone has done but it doesn’t have to be because it can come from a sense of superiority over someone. I found out later that I was right about the meaning but not the spelling.
Dave arrived about ten minutes late and explained that he’d woken up late. He went inside but as some of us grabbed our bikes he told us, Not yet!” and closed the gate. About five minutes later he let the first four of us in. Den was already there, so I assume he’d been waiting in the alley for David to arrive.
I put my bike on stand #3 and I knew that I’d have to remove my back wheel before anything else and I didn’t need any help to do that. Then I had to unravel the spoke that had snapped on Thursday and which I couldn’t remove and so had just wrapped it around my axel.
While I was working I heard a woman shouting angrily at David at the front of the store. She said that everything she’d bought at Bike Pirates the last time she was there failed and she wanted her money back. David tried to explain to her that she hadn’t paid for anything but had rather made a donation. She said she wanted to talk to someone else because she didn’t understand anything David was saying. I think she was referring to the fact that David has a pretty extreme lisp, but I’ve never had any problem understanding him, so I think she was just trying to be an asshole or being one without trying or perhaps she was mentally ill. She said she wanted to talk to the owner and David tried to explain that there is no owner. At the next stand, the Australian guy commented to Den, “You guys are saints!” Den told him that he’s dealt with that person before and she’s an idiot.
I had to remove my gear wheel in order to get the spoke out and then I put my rim on the truing wheel. I mentioned to Den how just a few hours after he’d helped me true my rim on Thursday the spoke had snapped and he got a little defensive. He told me that the only volunteer there that is an actual mechanic is David and he passed me over to him to help me change my spoke and true my wheel. Once I’d found the right size spoke and did the little basket weave manoeuvre from where it hooked in the centre then under and over to where it screwed into the rim, then it had to be trued. David got me to tighten or loosen the spokes but they didn’t need a lot to get the wheel back in true.
I asked David if there was a connection between my wheel suddenly going out of balance on Thursday and the spoke breaking. He assured me that the two things were coincidences.
I inquired about something I saw online about balancing a wheel while it’s still on the bike. I had thought that it meant centring the wheel in the frame by truing but he said they just mean truing. One wouldn’t balance the wheel that way. He explained that a truing wheel is just a more accurate version of the wheel being on the bike.
I once again struggled with getting my tube and tire back on together. David came along after a while and showed me that I should put only the nozzle of the tube in first, then put only one edge of the tire into the rim, slip the tube in and then the rest of the tire.
Then when David saw me having problems balancing the tire he told me to always get the tire in the slots as far as possible, then to fully tighten the right side and to only try to tighten the left side after balancing the wheel. That seemed to work.
My next problem was to get my back brakes balanced. A young and pretty man of Indian descent with a high voice and who seemed quite knowledgeable about bikes came to help me with that. After wrestling with it for a while he, like Den had done on Thursday, concluded that the springs were too weak on my brakes and I needed a new set. David came along though and said that all I needed was a new cable and a new housing. I took his advice and found that he was very right. The high voiced guy guided me through installing the cable and housing and afterwards my brakes were balanced easily and worked like a charm.
I took my velo for a test drive but almost immediately my chain jammed in high gear between the gear wheel and the frame. My volunteer helped me adjust the height by having me loosen the “H” with a screwdriver but he said that I should also clean all the guck that’s accumulated on the pulley wheels from dirty chain oil. I did that and then took another test drive. Everything seemed fine.
At the stand next to mine there were a couple of women that looked like they might be a couple but then again I got the impression that the shorter one with the makeup and braids was flirting with me. Maybe she was just being friendly. They were there because the taller woman had borrowed her friend’s bike once a couple of years ago without asking and had gotten into an accident that wrecked her bike. After two years she’d finally taken her friend to Bike Pirates to get a bike for her to fix up. They had been there for a couple of hours before the short woman concluded that the Supercycle from Canadian Tire that they were working on was going to be too slow so she changed her mind about taking it and left.
I was at Bike Pirates for three and a half hours. I paid $1 for the spoke, $5 for the brake cable and housing and then gave a $14 donation.
When I got home I had a late lunch and a late siesta. I ended up sleeping about an hour longer than usual for an afternoon nap. It was about three quarters of an hour before it being time to make dinner when I got up. For dinner I made fried eggs but was out of olive oil so I used flax oil. I checked online while the eggs were being made and found out that one is not supposed to cook with flax oil because the heat renders harmful some of its parts. I didn’t die or get sick but I guess I’ll only use flax oil for salads and such from now on. 

I was just about to take my eggs out of the frying pan when there was a knock on my door. I took the pan off the stove and went to answer it. It was the landlord and his wife, who’d come for the rent two weeks after the last time he’d missed me. He told me that he was going to put a mailbox in the hall so he wouldn’t miss my rent payment but I’d have to pay by cheque or money orders from now on. I told him that cheques and money orders cost extra money so I wasn’t going to do that. We argued for a while until his wife suggested an email transfer. Raja claimed a couple of tenants already pay that way. I said I’d do it if there’d be no charge. His wife said that I could deduct any service charge from my rent, so I took her email. Anything to not have to see the landlord as much, but I expressed concern that if he’s not coming for the rent then he won’t come to take out the garbage. He claimed that in the summer they would come once a week to avoid maggots but in the winter two weeks is enough. I said the garbage bin overflows but he insists it doesn’t. I know it does because I live here and see it, but we’d be arguing all night and my eggs were getting cold. I paid my rent and told them to slip the receipt under my door. 
I had a beer with my eggs and toast and watched the third and fourth episode of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.
Episode three introduced a new character that would have fit right in with the Big Bang Theory. Dobie meets Zelda Gilroy after Thalia, in one of her many schemes to turn Dobie into a financially worthwhile romantic investment, decides on a future career for him. He has just read her a poem that he wrote for her and she asks, “How long have you been writing poetry?” “All my life!” “When are you going to stop? Name me one rich poet! You can’t because there aren’t any. That’s why you’ve got to give up poetry! It’s either poetry or me! Think it over!” He decides to pick her and then she tells him that he’s going to be a doctor. She makes him start science classes at their high school. He takes them and begins to fail miserably. One day while he is trying to dissect a frog he begins to complain out loud, “Why did I ever get mixed up in this whole grizzly mess? Why? Why? Why?” Then he turns to Zelda, the young woman next to him at the lab table and adds, “And as for you, you don’t make things any easier! A whole month I’ve been sitting next to you and I haven’t heard one word out of you! Not one single word! Not even hello! You just sit there doing everything right and giving me a big freeze! For Pete’s sake say something! Speak to me! Say anything!” She looks up from her work and says in a clinical voice, “I love you.” “I beg your pardon?” “That’s right, I love you.” “Zelda, I am of course flattered …” “Now don’t get a swelled head. You’re nothing so special. You’re dumb as a post, you’re pigeon toed and you’ll be bald before you’re thirty.” “Is that so? You’re not exactly a traffic stopper yourself!” “Yeah, we’re a couple of dogs all right. But still, we’re not too repulsive. Anyway, what’s the difference? We’re victims of propinquity.” “What’s that?” “Nearness, closeness …” Then she cited a Harvard study that proved that 87% of married couples fall in love because of propinquity. “You put a boy and girl close to each other long enough and it’s bound to happen. It’s a scientific fact.” “No offence Zelda, but I don’t love you!” “You will. You’re Gillis and I’m Gilroy. Don’t forget that they seat students alphabetically in science classes. You’ll be sitting next to me all this year and next, and then when we go on to medical school, eight more years of propinquity. Don’t fight it Dobie, you can’t beat science.” Dobie fails his next test and Thalia won’t date him unless he does well. Zelda offers to do his homework for him and that goes well but then he gets a zero after she coaches him on the next test. She explains that she’d deliberately given him the wrong answers because she’d read a poem that he’d written to Thalia and left inside his homework, plus he’d lied to her about not being able to study with her because he had a job and she’d seen him in the malt shop with Thalia. Dobie admits he had it coming but decides to give up science classes. He storms out of the lab, shouting, “If I can’t have Thalia, at least I’ll have Shelley and Keats!” At the end we find him in front of the Rodin statue in the park, quoting Shelley, “Out of the day and night / a joy has taken flight.”
Zelda was played by Sheila Kuehl, who later became and still is a politician. She was the first openly gay California legislator.
In the fourth episode suddenly Dobie has an older brother who is away at college. David is smart and smooth with women. He comes home and gives Dobie romantic advice. There’s a new girl in town but Dobie can’t get in her good graces so David says they’ll have to try the Lombardie approach, named after the Italian exchange student whom Italy refuses to take back. The approach appeals to a trait inherent in all women: weltzshmerz. “You know everything don’t you?” “Well if a guy doesn’t know everything by the time he’s twenty he might as well throw in the towel! You invent a past for yourself, trouble, hardship, poverty, misery!” “I’ve got all that now!” “Well then what you need is an older woman in your life!” “What older woman?” “The mysterious Mrs. X!”
The next day Dobie approaches Felicia, the girl he wants to get to know and begins to tell her about his troubles with the mysterious older woman, Mrs X. He tells her she is very much like that older woman and Felicia likes that. “What’s her name?” “Let’s just refer to her as Mrs X.” “She’s married?” “Are you shocked?” “Of course not! I read a lot!” “She’s taken every penny I have! When will it stop?” Felicia invites Dobie to the malt shop and says she’ll pay. Dobie says he’ll have to go to the park and think about it. Felicia watches him from the classroom window. An attractive older woman approaches Dobie in the park and asks him for change for a quarter. Felicia sees Dobie giving the woman money and assumes she is Mrs X. She is also their new math teacher. Felicia is rich and she begins spending money on Dobie because she feels sorry for him and probably because he is fascinating because she thinks he’s in the thralls of an older woman. There are box seats at the ball game, rides in her convertible, picnics in the country and so on. The math teacher keeps Dobie after class to help him improve his work which means Felicia has to cancel their drive in the country. She storms into Dobie’s father’s grocery store and tells him about the older woman. Mr Gillis goes to confront Mrs Adams. They have a conversation that each thinks is about something else. He’s talking about what he thinks is a romance between her and Dobie while she’s talking about Dobie’s education. He’s telling her to leave him alone and she says she won’t because he needs her but if he gives his son love then Dobie won’t need her. He agrees and leaves, then tells Dobie that he got him out of his mess but if it ever happens again he’ll take an axe handle to him.

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