The other day I overheard a student exclaim to a friend, "Oh, I didn't see your bike, so I figured you weren't here!" She then reflectively referred to bikes as "our totem animals"--they sort of carry a bit of the personality, the spirit, of the folks who ride them.
Back at the beginning of October, I wrote a post called "Things I Want," and one of the things I wrote about was an actual bike of my own. I'd been riding Biffle's, and I was increasingly feeling that I needed a bike that was my bike--a bike that I could love and put stickers on, a bike that I could drive over a curb and not feel guilty about. Lo and behold, a week or so after that post went up, a bike arrived at our house. My parents commissioned Biffle to find and procure it for my birthday, even though my birthday wasn't until today. So for the last two months, I've been riding around on my very cool new bike: truly zippy, but upright, so that Maybelle's seat will fit on it. It's got a basket, and it's brown--with a funky brown leather seat!--so it's stylish in exactly the way that works with me.
The first day I went out on it, I was walking it across campus, and two college guys said, "Whoa, that is the best bike I've ever seen." I stopped and scrutinized them. They didn't look like people I knew. "Do you work at a bike shop?" I asked. "No," they said, "we can just tell that you have a totally awesome bike." I looked at them more closely, to see if maybe they were musicians, but they just looked too young. "That's exactly what my husband told me people would say about my bike," I said. I wondered, Could Biffle have paid them? "Well," they replied with seeming sincerity, "it's a great bike!"
And it is! So there you go. Thanks for the birthday totem, mom and dad!