Monday, July 6, 2015

Frostbukake Part 3: The Revolting Party Program

Such as it is.

Prelude: A word on bukake.
Google it if you want. After you read this.
Or.... not. (On both counts).
I had to. Hell...I had to google it after I actually used the word in a blog title. Yeah... It was pretty damn close to what I figured.
So, does it mean anything with regards to the things I write? Meh....Everything I write means something. Just not what you probably think. And honestly...I just didn't want to title a post "Frostbike." (yawn) So... "Frostbukake."
In case you weren't aware... I'm really quite funny.

I'm writing this from Emporia, Kansas. Tucked away in Java Cat coffee... hiding from the rain, ghosts and demons (who, incidentally, fucking love rain). Tomorrow I'll ride one gear 200 miles around the Flint Hills. I'm actually looking quite forward to it and to everything that goes along with it. I mean....It's either that or push something sharp through my hand. Whatever it takes to stay grounded, right?
I admit that when I first signed up for Dirty Kanza, I'd been seeking three things. Sun, sky, and....something. We'll see what tomorrow holds. While the sun and the sky prove to be elusive... I suspect I'll find enough something to crush and sustain me for a while. It's elating and destroying. Painful and wonderful. It always is.
How long, I wonder, until it cracks me wide open.

Chapter One: Can I Scream?
I came back from Frostbike with a head full of ideas and a chest full of things. All the things. It's what happens. What can I say? I'm a mess. You are too. But... maybe me a little more.
Fuck you, by the way.
Also... inspired by workshops on staffing and operations, I came back with the intent of dealing with a problem. Thankfully, the problem dealt with itself in the best possible way.
Staffing is hard, because everyone wants a job in a bike shop. They just don't all want to work in a bike shop. You have to like bikes as more than an accessory to whatever image you're currently cultivating for it to really stick. And the thing is... whining for more hours, but spending the hours you're given bouncing a ball against a door...or getting coffee... or doing crosswords... or unsuccessfully trying to look busy... instead of being busy... or trying to gain even the smallest amount of product knowledge....
it just isn't a metric that adds up. .

Alas...The hipster-millennial-dipshit plague is real.
So's the struggle.

When all the clean-cut fixie-kids suddenly morphed into 70's-hiker-dad...sans irony... trading in their jeggings for a pair of short shorts and a beard...the Universe let out a panged sigh.

When the swoopy haired emo kids and their praise-bands disguised as the absolute fucking worst iteration of punk ever suddenly tried to sell themselves as beer loving cycling dirtbags with open minds... the Universe threw up in its mouth a little. (A lot.)

Apparently, god's image is a muffintop. 
When a local gadfly of a bike shop owner appeared in a magazine, posing with a cargo bike and wearing (bootcut) "virgin denim" from a local denim-boutique and shoes belonging to someone else...his son dressed as a street urchin...and the caption to the photo included the word "hipster"...the universe laughed so hard that it shat itself. Srsly.

photo cred: Scott Crowder and 1808 magazine.
Kudos to Scott and Tina at 1808 for rolling with adversity and working with what they had. Honestly, I was game for anything... and was ready to wear whatever they told me too, however ridiculous. (Except for that fucking baseball hat.) Luckily Milo was there to take the focus away from the mulleted ferret-gorilla that is me. Kid is #totesadorbz. #forrealz
I deliberately chose that bike to pose with, incidentally. One, because it has absolutely zero hipster cache in this town... and two, because I've used it every day for the past three years... riding my son to school or dragging shit around town. Not literal shit. Just figurative shit. Literally.

And in case you're wondering what I'm gazing at in that picture...I'm looking toward a future where everyone rides their kids to school on cargo bikes, instead of driving their SUV less than a mile.
I'm also looking at a looming wave of melancholy that follows me everywhere... wondering how long until it breaks over my head.

Chapter Two: The Night Nothing Became Everything
Wherever I had intended to go, it didn't matter. At this point, I was just walking.
It was less about clearing my head...and more about just moving. Because if I went back to the hotel... or if I stopped... I didn't know where I was going to ultimately end up. But I had a strong feeling it would be on the ground. 
Yes... I was drunk. But that wasn't it. It was a behemoth wave of melancholy (the same one!)... as tall and heavy as the buildings I was randomly navigating. The kind of wave that hits you so hard you bleed internally.
So I just kept moving...hoping I could stay ahead of the mountain of whitewater closing in behind me.
Eh... Not so much.

What can I say? I'm a mess. ( said that, already)
When it finally spit me out, and I could see... (breathe)... I realized that I was where I had intended to go in the first place. Before the wave. 
One On One.
By this time I'd been held down enough and swallowed enough water that talking would be hard.
But... I gave myself a slap (a few)....walked around to the back door... hoisted it open and descended the stairs. Inside I found Geno, Brock, Aaron, Kat, Jeremy and others inside...already who knows how many shots in. I sighed sadly and plunged in, holding my hand out for a shot of... whatever.

By the time we got around to pulling bikes out for what Geno had initially broached as a "pub crawl" earlier in the evening, things were pretty far beyond messy. (We never made it to any pubs, that's for sure.) We didn't knock every bike in the basement over... but we tried. I had to pull Geno out of a pile of his own making. And once the bikes were successfully upstairs... suddenly extremely seasoned bicycle mechanics were struggling with pedal installation. Staring blankly into a 9/16th's hole like it was a math exam. Defaulting to the one problem on the exam that we could solve....Our empty shot glasses.

"Wait... wait... so we... I... we... I.... wait. (pause). We.... see... I....(pause)... we...(pause)... wait... (long pause while staring at floor)....shit...."

Imagine trying to reason with this. Go on. Imagine it.

At least one of Kat's eyes is open at this point. That's a good sign.

Why are we in the bathroom?
Because Geno had "something important" to tell us.

Put WHAT back where we found WHAT? I don't even know what's happening right now. Or where we even are.
Geno? Geno?! Fuck! Where are the lights? How do we even get out of here?

We were all kinds of falling apart. Meanwhile... Kat... was falling down. Struggling with the seven or so stairs that lead out of One on One. So I picked her up the way I pick up my kid when he's having a hard time. The way I still pick him up out of bed every morning. The way I've picked him up for ten years, and never want to end. Like a little spidermonkey in my arms.
Arms under her legs. Her head on my shoulder.
Once I got her up the stairs and out on the stoop, she smiled blindly up at me and tried to kiss my cheek. I laughingly obliged... then sent her off on the shoulders of Jeremy and Aaron.
Then Brock, Geno, myself and a fellow who's name I forget (I suck) finally locked up and took turns riding a Swobo Accomplice... the one bike we had successfully extricated... through town; skidding and sliding in the snow... moving roughly in the direction of the hotel. We entered, met a persuasive pizza delivery guy in the elevator...and decided that going to bed was a horrible idea. We needed pizza. Badly. But not before the "nameless one" rode the Accomplice down the escalator. Suffice to say, the hotel staff absolutely loved us.

Leaving the hotel, we ran into Cori Peplnpepeldngjgkdnajak... who honestly saved our goddamned lives. She accompanied us to the pizza place, held our hands as we struggled through interacting with the cashier, and helped me let Jen-o know that Geno was ok(ish) and would be home shortly.
(As if Jen-o hadn't been through that a million times before.)
She's also a detective and will find out what you're not telling her before you know what happened.
Cori is also now the Salsa ambassador for the Utah territories. Lucky duck.

I climbed in the bed and passed out, dreading the morning and what it would bring. And knowing it would come too soon.
I... just wanted to go back in time.

The next day was more workshops. I had to bolt at one point to go sit at the bar and stare at a wall. Apologies to everyone who tried to talk to me. It's that wave, you know?
At a point, it passed, and I could smile again. Laugh even.

Are you worthy?
(photocred: QBP)

As we watched karaoke that night, Tobie of North Central Cyclery and I sprawled our words across the industry, fatherhood, music and faith. He'd come to the latter through music... and I'd gone the opposite way, an apostate in every sense of the word. But however disparate our convictions...our roots were the same. And we spoke the same language.
I think, that if you can speak the same language, even if it's not in the same tongue, you can connect across some pretty deep chasms. Sometimes it's a flimsy rope bridge...tenuous and weak. But it can be more. And leaving your ground and walking out on the bridge, looking down... is just one of those things that everyone needs to do more of. Because what you see down there might knock the everliving shit out of who you think you are.
Like a giant wave.

Who knows... maybe it will even wash away all of the bullshit and make way for something new.

Next time.
The New Noise.

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