Cropped K on Bike 2015-12-10 at 2.05.37 PM

Calm down. Yes, I ride with a helmet, as seen in gif below.

If there’s an age limit for obsessing over a new bike, I’ve probably overshot by…oh, let’s round it off to half a century. 

That didn’t stop me from developing a bike crush last summer. The object of my affection: “Abbey” from the Pure City line of Pure Fix Cycles. At the outset, let me say this is not a paid blog post. But it was sweet of you to let that thought cross your mind. Also hilarious. It would mean their marketing department targets the old lady demo. Are you drinking? To underscore the point, here’s a Pure City video demonstrating a style of biking for which I lack both the youth and the right underwear. Also, the mom in me screams, “Put your helmets on!”

In the tradition of 21st century romance, I found Abbey online. I wasn’t looking for a bike when I spotted her, hadn’t ridden in years, but it was bike love at first sight. I just knew we were meant to be together. In the parlance of Marie Kondo, that grand duchess of decluttering, I knew Abbey would “bring me joy.”

Maybe it was her cheery yellow paint job and minty-fresh turquoise tire walls.

Or the step-through design that promised, “Hey, Old Lady, with any luck you won’t crack your pelvis getting on and off.”

Or the comfy-looking leather seat that beckoned, “Come sit, Old Lady Fanny.” 

Have I mentioned I’m really old?

Abbey played hard to get until I whipped out my credit card. Things moved fast from there, and within two weeks she’d moved in with me. Well, into my garage. The single rough spot of our union was that Pure City demanded Abbey be assembled professionally to activate the warranty. Cheap, cranky old ladies don’t shell out when we have cheap, cranky old husbands with perfectly fine mechanical skills.

REduxbikesave

From mid-July through mid-November, Abbey and I cruised our neighborhood nearly every day. I was recreating the fun of bike riding as a kid and realized a huge part of that was riding upright. The only other bike I’d owned as an adult was a Peugeot 10-speed purchased in my twenties. It had those ridiculous curled-under handlebars. (Attention serious bikers about to lecture on aerodynamics: I don’t care. Really, I don’t. Save your breath for the uphill.)

Abbey and I tool around at a leisurely pace on paved trails in a nearby park and on residential streets with almost no traffic. She’s a three-speed, but we’re not about speed or how many miles we cover in a day. We are about the quiet joy of pedaling in the fresh air in an increasingly unquiet world. That and the irrepressible, childish pleasure of dinging the bell to warn pedestrians we’re about to pass.

great Bike w: snow

A friend gave me this oh-so-French-movie basket for Christmas. Now for the baguette.

As the days grow longer, I’ve begun estimating how soon Abbey and I can reasonably hope to ride again. With luck, gloves, hat, scarf and a warm jacket, we’re thinking April 1.

That’s right. A fool in bike love.

2-Otto-CorrectThe editorial crimes of Otto Correct, underboss of the Internet, are well documented by DamnYouAutoCorrect.

That’s not where we’re going.

Sure, I’ve had my share of beatdowns from Otto. Just the other day he nearly had me email a client to ask, “How did your meeting with the devil go?” Fortunately, at the last second I remembered to pat down Otto, proofing his pockets for insults, obscenities and inanities. Ha! The meeting was with Devin, Otto. D-e-v-i-n. I was right. You were wrong. Live with it.

My particular point is that while Otto’s edits can be embarrassing, he’s almost more dangerous for the way he derails our trains of thought and hijacks conversations.

Google chatting with an architect friend, I typed “What do you know about Eichler?” Otto butted in and replaced the name of Eichler, a developer of mid-century modern homes, with Euchre.

My friend instantly typed back: “Euchre? Isn’t that a card game?”

Faster than I could type nonononono, my friend jumped out of the chat window and Googled off, returning seconds later to report that Euchre is indeed a card game. Eager to be helpful, he also gave me the Wikipedia link and, oh yes, inquired why I was suddenly so interested in Euchre.

By then I was distracted by the semi-interesting coincidence that both Euchre and the card game Pinochle are spelled with a c-h that sounds like a k and was thinking about how long it’s been since I’ve heard of anyone playing Pinochle.

We never got back to Eichler.

Many of Otto’s suggestions seem to be pure whimsy. I was typing micro line—as in, very small fontwhen Otto butted in to suggest micro linen. Exactly what would micro linen be? Itsy napkins for doll houses? Yet there I was, pondering.

Is it not enough that links are compromising our ability to concentrate while reading online, tempting us to drill down like crazed wildcatters, convincing us a real gusher of insights is only one click away?

Certainly Otto has his uses. If he were to become, let’s say, disabled, who would correct me when I misspell? Yesterday he caught me typing “she has more moxy” and generously corrected with moxie. See, Otto, now THAT is helpful. But you could have made the fix without nudging me toward your “improvements” of more money or more poxy.

“She has more poxy?” Seriously, Otto?  

The other day I was browsing gmail emoji—could we pretend I didn’t admit that?—and was struck by this little number  , which reminded me of the way my dad greeted other drivers in North Dakota. keep 50%-fingerwave

Index finger lifted from the steering wheel. That was it. No turn of the head. Smile optional.

Driver’s Finger was a simple, dignified gesture. It was a manly alternative to waving, which tends to make other drivers think you’re alerting them to a problem, say, dragging a fire hydrant from their rear bumper.

I still see Driver’s Finger in rural areas. Maybe it’s used in cities and I just haven’t noticed. I can imagine situations in which the move could prove troublesome unless you’re up on your gang signs. (“Hell, yes, I shot him. Dude flashed me his index finger from the steering wheel and it was on.”)

At sports events a comically oversized index finger delivers a message: “Look, I’m waving a big piece of foam at you.” In contrast, Driver’s Finger never goes out of its way to draw attention to itself. It’s understood without screams or body spasms.

I have no idea how Driver’s Finger originated. Perhaps it dates back to when farm trucks and cars were harder to steer and keep on the road. This minimalist gesture was polite and safe. Whatever its beginnings, I like Driver’s Finger. It’s well-mannered. Never crude or overwrought like its neighbor, middle finger, aka The Finger.

I call Driver’s Finger a “manly alternative” because women drivers who recognized their friends in an oncoming vehicle, then as now, usually eschewed Driver’s Finger for a friendly smile accompanied by an upward tilt of the jaw. Also subtle but, well, ladylike. 50%-head+tilt

Both Driver’s Finger and Head Tilt + Smile are soft, noninvasive pleasantries. These gestures don’t demand we “get together soon.” They’re not invitations to “like my driving on Facebook.” All they do is recognize another driver as a human being—which may be anachronistic soon enough with driverless cars. Meanwhile, Driver’s Finger and Head Tilt + Smile express civility. That’s always worth pointing out, or in the case of Driver’s Finger, pointing up.