Friday, September 25, 2015

Thong Fever: Interbike Part One.

As I sat sipping incredibly delicious coffee on the outside patio of Mon Ami Gabi... beneath a facade of Eifel Tower... enjoying the sky and eavesdropping...and watching a parade of people as good as anything I'd seen in the real Paris.. (but of a very different breed)... I saw it happen.
And while it wasn't surprising, given where I was... I was still caught off guard.
I saw her first. A striking young woman in her early thirties at most. With long electric blue hair. Skinny and svelte... of indeterminate, but exotic and beautiful ethnicity. As she boldly sauntered her way down the teeming sidewalk, my eyes and the eyes of many were very much drawn to her.
I saw him next. A tall, paunchy schlub of a man. Mid 50's. Unlike the meatheads and methheads and eurpoeans and elderly and families... he was notable only for his blandness. Head down... walking with a defeated and deflated shuffle. Unlike her, who confidently sized up everyone she passed....his eyes engaged no one. One foot in front of the other seemed as much engagement as he could take.
As they passed, ten feet from where I sat, I heard the girl say something, but couldn't make it out. Two words at most.
The man continued on, but his gait slowed. He proceeded ten feet, head still down, losing momentum until he stopped... and continued to stare at the sidewalk in front of him. He stayed this way for a good ten seconds, the wheels in his head obviously turning. And then... slowly... he turned his head and looked back.
There she was. Standing twenty feet away. Arms crossed. A coy but assured side-smile on her face.
He slowly about-faced... and walked toward her. And without missing a beat, she slipped her arm through his... and they headed down the sidewalk together. Together... toward... somewhere.

And...while I knew her game. And I knew his plight. I still had a momentary pang, wishing there was someone across the table from me. Someone to touch their foot against mine. Someone to smile at me. Someone I could saunter down the sidewalk with...arm in arm. Together... toward... somewhere.

It was 8:30am in the morning.

At least I had this rugged lad to snuggle with for the week.

AND NOW.... A TRUE STORY

Dear ____________
I have this nagging and troubling feeling that I not only saw you at Cross Vegas, but that I also talked to you. And the fact is... that I had imbibed enough beer and whiskey at this point, that my very soul was drunk. So I feel it necessary to apologize, humbly and profusely, for anything and everything that I must have said. (Unless...it was witty and charming: a happenstance that bends the very physics that govern this universe.) Because none of it could have been worth any of the time you very politely gave me. Hence the wary half-smile you flashed me as you walked (very) briskly past me the next day. It's possible, of course, that I am mistaken...and that the glimmers of conversation I remember with you are merely splinters of Interbike whiskey-dreams... fueled by passing greetings, internet friendships, industry schmingling, and... did I mention... whiskey? If indeed, I am mistaken, and I did not, in fact, accost you with insane drunkety-jabber...then once again, please let me humbly apologize for even broaching it, and possibly discomfiting you even more. But if I did...sigh... then do please forgive me for being even a small part of the drunken-man-plague that is Interbike.
Please.
I...hope things are well with you... and look forward to apologizing next year.
Sincerely,

Watts

So....Did it happen?
Maybe? I honestly don't know. But I do know that I felt a slight hitch of inquietude when I saw ________ walk by the next day, as a sudden flash of small and disjointed memories flickering through my head. And she very much did give me a wary half-smile as she passed by. I could have been mistaken, of course. Maybe it was a warm and friendly smile. A "Hey...good to see you last night" smile. But...well...  I've never been one to assume that I'm being given anything but "stranger danger" looks by anyone.
Rightly so...
Because no girl wants a man sobbing into their shoulder about "the ghosts."
Fuck. Me.


And to clarify... I wasn't untoward or licentious... that much I DO know. That's not a place I go. But I suspect that I wasn't engaging in the ways I would prefer to be remembered. With anyone.
Disappoint, all the way around.

Thus it begineth...
BRAINLESS WONDER

There was no beer on the Swagman bus. But there was tequila... and whiskey... and beer. (Yes. I know what I just said.) The beer was ensconced in our backpacks. And in my body. And when the red cup in my hand was filled with brown juice... sigh...
I blame Joanna.
Joanna's awesomeness is inversely proportionate to my photographic ineptness.
So you know she rules.
How the hell I managed to get the bottle and the cup and myself into CrossVegas is still a mystery, as they were very much sizing people up and checking bags. And my Mission Workshop bag had multiple cans and bottles in its many pockets. But...I just confidently sauntered up, like my blue haired lady...opened ONE compartment...(the one that did not contain said beers and brown)... and walked in. Twice.

I remember stumbling down a hill toward the Raleigh VIP area... and the rest is blurry. If not... black.


Endless Shanna and I discussed this as we lunched with Chris and Dar at a neighborhood restaurant before heading to the airport on Sunday. Getting blackout drunk and how we may or may not behave during this time. And who is it that inhabits our body and mind during such times?

It's this guy... ennit?
Yith... yith it ith.

We came up with nothing... save for the sincere hope that we aren't just drooling and jibbering fools during such times. That, maybe... we're even everything we always wanted to be? Maybe?
Sigh... who am I kidding.
I'm a mess.
But unlike other times, where I've shut down... face resting against a brick wall between parked cars... this time I was a drunkernaut of goodwill and social ineptitude.


Nick and Spencer of Le Ritte still love me, though.

And Brian still thinks I'm worthy.


And Dax was at least as destroyed as me.

And...I took this?

Joyful Reunion.
Hodala!

Hodala!

I absolutely remember talking to John. Thanking him profusely for the ride he gave me to CrossVegas last year. A thing I hadn't done yet. Which chagrined me, because I really did appreciate it. We laughed about being unable to find his truck in the garage... and the shitshow that ensued post-race... and about all being shatavists in our own right. (I actually have no idea what we laughed about, but at least he's smiling in that picture, so I must not have said anything too acerbic.)
And I remember talking to Britton. Twice. At least. Each time being the first for me. There is no fucking telling what I said... but I wouldn't be surprised if I'm quietly and unceremoniously removed from his blogroll.

"How do you know this guy again, Brit?"
"I honestly have no clue. But if we don't survive this.... I love you."


And then... as ritual dictates... I caught a ride with Spencer and a motley assortment of friends, including Anna Schwinn, Dan Green, Nick and... I don't know.
And then I was home.
Yeah. That's what I call Rumor Boutique. Home.

THONG FEVER
(late edit: The title is taken from a song that I previously couldn't find to include. I've since found it. Maybe when you're done reading, make you're way up here and give it a listen. Maybe.
https://soundcloud.com/blast-of-silence-records/m-o-t-o-thong-fever )

I'd fucked up this year. Waited too long to book my room. By the time I was on top of it, all of the on strip hotels were ludicrously expensive. So I waited and watched. The ones within my price range were Hojos and Comfort Inn's. I even considered a hostel. You know... because I'm a teenager. But this one place kept popping up... and the price kept dropping. And finally... I booked a room at Rumor.
I had misgivings... but it was fine. The room was clean. The shower was nice. The decor was... a thing.

Their picture.
My picture.
Can you spot the differences?
That's right... mine is blurry. Good eye.


It was just under three miles from Mandalay Bay.. a distance that can destroy when you're walking to and from the show each day... in addition to however far you walk IN the show. But.. it was cheap enough that I could fly my Nature Boy out and still come out way ahead. And since I was very much solo... having a bike to ramble about town seemed perfect. 

I'll tell you more about that next time. But for the moment... let's talk about socks. 
I started seeing pictures of this year's socks before I even knew what I was looking at. Outrage was exploding before I could even unpack my bike and ride it to breakfast.  I watched it unfold... considered weighing in. And just sat on it. Because fuck... I was in Vegas for Interbike. Engaging people on the internet was the last thing I wanted to do. I wanted to go ride bikes in the desert and see my friends. Not count likes and parry commentary.
But here we are. 
This... was the sock that Save Our Soles opted for this year.



I guess it did't register. My first thought when I saw this was "They can do this on a sock? Well how come my simple fucking logo always manages to look wonky?"
I shrugged that it wasn't a sock I'd ever wear... never considering the implications to the industry, save that it was just one more example of how boring and tasteless it still is. And that I can surround myself with all of the cool people I want... and listen to Lady Sinatra absolutely destroy it with them.. I can seek out all the cool brands I want. The ones that I think are doing good things. But that in the end... it's all still a fucking Limp Bizkit song. A Kardashian sister. A Trump combover. A 13.1 sticker. A wicking Izod shirt on a paunchy married middle aged man who doesn't get the hint when the pretty tattooed girl in the booth tells him to stop staring at her chest and fuck off.
I took it for granted. Maybe in part because I walked by this billboard twice a day for seven days.

Temptation at Luxor.
Ask Stevil why he doesn't get in the water at Luxor anymore.

And because I've never minded sex or skin. If anything... I'm drawn to it like a moth. And I was seeing skin everywhere. Skin on socks wasn't on my mind.
And maybe it still isn't. Because maybe there are bigger battles. And better examples.
But...maybe not. Maybe something as mundane as a sock really is a great barometer for how low we've sunk as an industry.


Or maybe...it's just a fucking sock.
But here's the thing. Whatever it is....taking it for granted isn't ok.

And when a woman raises her voice and tries to tell you something.. even if you don't agree....
You fucking listen.

Whether she's telling you that the systems of rampant sexism that you have in place are not ok and will not be tolerated.... and that No means No.

Or whether she's telling you to "stop being a fucking pussy."

You listen.
And if you don't.... you're a cock.



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