Vetting The Fred
I don’t mean to sound bitter, cold, or cruel, but I am, so that’s how it comes out.
– Bill Hicks
That famous quote from the Greatest Comedian Of All Timeâ„¢ has resonated with me for many years. It became my silent mantra, as I don’t suffer fools gladly and sometimes don’t make much effort to conceal the fact. Lately, I’ve been trying harder to be more accepting of those who seem sent to test me, to try my patience, to see how far I need to be pushed before reaching breaking point and just coming out with an expletive-laden rant (or more likely just two words that have the same impact with much less output). But you know what? Fuck that.
When it comes to the riding group, the same principles apply: it doesn’t matter if our abilities are the same, because if I have to sit next to you and make mind-numbing, inane small talk for more than five minutes… well, this ain’t gonna work. Now, our tight-knit bunch has been refined over the nearly eight years I’ve been living in my adopted home city. There are some who drift in and out, but they are still a part of the group. Even if we don’t see them for months or years, they will easily slip back into the fold like a well-lubed sex doll (and if they find that kind of talk offensive, they’re slipping right out again). Sometimes, new recruits are either invited along or somehow just appear unannounced, possibly thinking that this is some kind of weird love-in where all are welcomed with an awkward hug and a patronising smile. We’re not the fucking church, ok?
So, what to do if this guy turns up? He’s been invited, so that’s ok, not his fault. You give him the once over, and alarm bells begin to ring: tri bike replete with aero bars, no socks, jogging shoes (combined with clipless pedals), a peaked helmet and board shorts over hairy legs. Well, you give him the benefit of the doubt, and introduce yourself. You afford him a chance, even as the sirens and flashing lights in your head are rapidly materialising into an angry migraine. Maybe he’ll break the ice with a fart joke or possess a stroke of such magnificent souplesse that he drops your ass on the first hill and you quickly disregard the myriad Rule violations. Who’s not to say that this day he just forgot all his riding gear, his real bike is in the shop getting a new Gruppo fitted, and he’s been on a week-long binge of hookers and blow and hasn’t had the time, inclination or requisite brain function to shave the ol’ guns. Reasonable excuses, one would think.
If it turns out that yeah, he can hang, but no, he doesn’t possess any bunch etiquette, but yes, he’s a decent chap, although no, he may not own an appropriate bike or cleated shoes and he’s not likely to shave/lose the visor/boardies of his own accord, yet hints at a similarly warped sense of humour and at least a couple of vices. A perplexing dilemma that gnaws away at you for the next week, until ride time rolls around again. What do I do? What do we do?
What would you do? Tolerate, integrate or expatriate?