Bicycle Perspectives

Today is Monday. I have spent the entire night trying not to sway side to side and disturb my snoozing neighbours. And you get your own bed! It varies from day to day, but there are about five of us that rest our tiresome tires in the snug and supportive dividers. On windy nights like the last, however, sleep changes into an awkward game of flexing your axles to stay on your side of the rack.

“Aaaaaaand here we are. Sorry Maaike. I can’t get up. I’m trying. I think my metal is bending. Maaike, do you think you could give me a push?” Inconsiderate bum.

I wake up with the sun on my back, ready to saddle up and face the frenzied zoom-zoom rush hour where our companions jaunt like zombies on horseback. Seeing Mine come out of her apartment, I allow the wind to shake me around, trying to exhibit my utmost excitement. Finally! She is coming this way to shake off this pig-tail rubber chain and allow me to get my gears grinding. I think I’m getting old and stiff.

And then it hits me again… today is Monday. I immediately regret showing any enthusiasm as I see her rattle her keys, as though she is waving a bone to a dog. I lean back against Maaike, hoping to crack an irreparable nail and pull a melodramatic “not today, honey! I’m too ill.” Harrowing memories of rush hour Mondays start to flow back into my inner tubes and I whimper to the thought of the endless traps Death sets out in these chaotic, feverish days and I wish I could deflate and I wish I could take off on my own to escape the tyranny of Death. Death is such a dick.

Before I can protest we whiz off into the morning to face the phases of asphalt I’ll have to endure. I have done this a million times, and still cannot get used to the tickling transition from concrete to cobblestone. As usual, the journey is surprisingly calm. At first the old rubbery soles of my shoes kiss the ground delicately, freely, so as to avoid any unwanted friction. I fool myself into thinking that Death won’t find us today, that although it is lurking around any corner, Mine will steer my handles in the right direction. But fooling oneself is as futile as boasting an old, gritty frame amongst my kind. From the tiled and craggy squares to the fluid pavement those devilish tram rails discontinue, to the inexhaustible cobbles that delineate this city. Mine and I encountered Death twice in these adrenaline-filled ten-plus-two minutes.

Exhibit A: After my short-lived two minutes of misconceived relief, it begins to rain. Usually I keep my chin up and keep on keeping on, but this time my meditations are abruptly interrupted by Mine’s rookie attempt of trying to cross over tram rails. My leg is stuck, and I can’t get it out. My leg is stuck, and there is a tram coming. My leg is stuck, and Mine is just cursing. My leg is stuck and “DING!” My leg hurts and we are alive.

Exhibit B: There it is—that incessant blah-blah and obnoxious giggle which hides behind some device, about an arm’s length long, which holds a phone. The poor red ones… they are forced to choose a life at the mercy of endlessly abusive companions. Mine is clearly enraged after exhibit A, and loses her patience “RIIIIIING RIIIIING!” The laughter continues, and when these blasphemous fools turn around to see what the commotion is, they swerve directly in our direction like drunken buffoons. Hello Death, there you are again.

You see, Death to you is not necessarily as omnipresent as it is in our lives. You don’t arise from a slumber to find yourself dodging bullets without even having eaten a proper breakfast… at the least. Neither do you worry that, when you are waiting for your companion to finish a night of wild partying at the Milky Way, Death will sneak up on you and dismember a precious limb. Have you ever had a conversation with a newfound acquaintance, when suddenly Death decides to push them into a canal—left to drown—mid conversation? I think not. But so it goes, this is something as fatalistic as the fact that your kind can bear children and we can reincarnate. The only way of knowing, of truly gaining insight into our lives is to be one of us. What is it like to be a bat?