I was sitting at the kitchen table when Max came in and sat down.
He eyed my Spandex top, black stretch pants and sneakers. “Going to the gym?” he asked.
“Would I dress like this if I weren’t?” I ate my cup of yogurt drizzled with fruit and flaxseed powder. “You should think about joining, too.”
He looked me in the eye. “I exercise!”
“Pushing a supermarket cart through the produce aisles at Walmart is not exercise. Why don’t you take Otto’s bike for a spin?”
I scraped the last bit of yogurt from the cup. “Pushing a supermarket cart through the produce aisles at Walmart is not exercise. Why don’t you take Otto’s bike for a spin?”
He rolled his eyes. “Oh, please! A spin?”
I shot him an exasperated look. “Then what are we going to do with the bike?”
“Well,” he said, “we could spray it gold and put in on a pedestal.”
“Or I could melt it down and make spoons! We could call them ‘Otto Spoons’ for eating vegan delicacies!”
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
“No. You’re being ridiculous if you think I’m taking it out for a spin.”
“Think about your heart, your paunch.”
He looked thoughtful. “If it’s going to make you happy, I’ll give it a spin, maybe even a twirl.”
He bought spandex bike shorts, a shirt with a bright green stripe in back, bike shoes and socks, a helmet and gloves with short cut fingers. The next day, he modeled them for me.
“Max, you look ready to take part in the Tour de France!”
“With the money I spent on this outfit, I could have bought a nice French wine.”
“You did the right thing! Good luck on your first outing.”
“I’m not going until you get the timer and a checkered flag!”
“The checkered flag is for the end of the race. And you’re only going around the block.”
“I don’t care. This is my exercise and I’m going to do it like a champion. I want a checkered flag. This is how I spin. This is how I twirl.”
“Whatever it takes, Max, dear.” I got the kitchen timer and tied a checkered napkin to a stick. “Ready! Set! Go!”
One and a half hours later – no Max. I was worried. Finally, he came through the front door walking the bike. Both were splattered with a gray substance.
“What happened?” I asked.
“It started off fine. Then my foot slipped off the pedal and I lost control. In order to avoid hitting a woman crossing the street with a baby stroller, I went up on the sidewalk. Unfortunately, workmen were laying fresh cement and I rode through it. Not only did I splatter cement all over me, but all over the workmen. They hurled expletives at me. I will not translate from the Spanish, but let’s say they involved insults to my mother’s honor. When I stopped at a red light, I slipped from the seat and hit the middle bar. That brought stars to my eyes. As if that weren’t enough, my spin got worse. A group of teenagers on skate boards followed me chanting, “Go, grandpa, go!” and then broke out into the Spanish version of “Old Man River!” I’m never getting on that thing again! That’s my last spin. That bike is possessed by Otto. It’s the Devil’s vehicle. I haven’t been this embarrassed since my vegetable Leaning Tower of Pisa fell over at JoJo Three Fingers’ 60th birthday party! That bike needs to be smudged by a shaman!”
“Why don’t we just give it away?”
“Sylvia, you have flashes of true brilliance! Can we donate it to a vegan charity?”
We compromised and put it into the bodega under a tarp. “Just in case Otto comes back and wants to ride it!” I said.
Perish the thought!