Thursday, October 03, 2002

We can put to rest the debate on the sanity of the lady in the park near Central and Auburn here in Rockford. I went on my bike ride to Pecatonica, but it was cut short when I got a flat tire. On the walk back home I got back on the Mel Anderson path and it was raining. And as I came underneath the Central St. bridge, walking along the banks of Kent Creek, I thought of the swing set lady because I'd just written about her earlier in the day. Lo and behold, there she is, on the swing set, same metronomic consistency, except this time she is doing it with one arm, and holding the other arm cocked as if it's injured. Just on the grass, at the edge of the wood-shaving ground of the playground, is a laundry basket filled with plastic bags and stuff I could not identify. She's not wearing the pink tank top, but biker shorts and a long-sleeved top.

I wanted to talk to her, but as I approached she stared at me and scowled. She's got short curly hair and looks to be in her 50s. She looks like a lady I met on the Appalachian Trail in 2000, Beverly Dillworth. Both women all tendon and bone, sinewy, lithe. Dillworth's touched-ness the janitor size set of keys she carried around and her propensity to wash an ungodly amount of clothes and rags each time she came into camp and hang them everywhere. Oh, and she washed the clothes in a large, shiny aluminum bowl. Both women also have scrunch-faced southern inbred faces.

Does their ugliness beget rejection from the world at large? Or ignorance? Or some awful backwoods upbringing? Rape? Pain? What is the significance of the swing set? Has the woman been swinging since I seen her last? I've written enough about this woman. I'm tempted to leave right now and go to the park and see if she's there.

So, yeah, crazy me decided to take a bike ride in the rain. I was going to go all the way to Pecatonica and back, a 40-mile round trip journey. But I got a flat tire on the southwest side of Rockford, which, if it would have happened to me at night would have certainly resulted in me getting mugged and my bike stolen. With my ball cap, rain jacket and daypack on waist, honky me stands out in da hood. I noticed the flat tire when I almost wiped out turning a corner off of Pierpont, mere feet away from the moss covered water storage tank, the willow trees and the place where the other day I almost hit the drunk guy carrying the bottle of Wild Irish Rose. I'm thinking it's that guy's smashed bottle caused the flat.

But after I get the flat I walk the bike back up Pierpont and stop at an open garage door for a towing company/auto shop. I ask if they can inflate my tire and a young guy, my age, walking with a cane, all long curly hair, goatee, t-shirt, tall and lanky, is very kind and helps me, even though he's very busy and brothers keep coming up to him: "You got a used starter for a 96 Taurus? Dealer wants me to pay $400 for a new one. I can't afford that #$#&." He's like the young guru of the shop. I wanted to ask him about the cane, but didn't think it appropriate. He tried to pump up my tube, but the tube kept bursting out from under the rim and tire. He does his best, but sends me on my way still walking my bike in the rain. About a mile later I get to a gas station, one where the clerks are stationed behind bulletproof glass, and ask for change for the air machine. It turns out to be one of those air pumps that you put the nozzle on the tire and it pumps air. There is no trigger to control the release of air. And as I pump the tube again breaks free from the tire and rim and I can't get the pump off in time -- POW!! -- the tube explodes with gunshot sound. Now I'm set. I'm walking the rest of the way home.

John Panek called yesterday and apologized for the blow off. He seemed perturbed that it upset me so. Said we aren't dating, so what's the big deal? He's real busy with work. This is his first experiences as a school teacher, and he's got mid-terms going right now. Lots of grading and at home work. He seems like the type not used to being so occupied. That explains getting blown off. Said this is a bad time for him. I can understand busy-ness. I know now where I stand in the Panek hierarchy.

This morning the new upstairs neighbor, Eric's, alarm went off and kept going and going. This has happened three out of the last four mornings. So this morning I just pounded our ceiling once. That was enough to disturb his slumber, and the alarm was turned off. Esther said her brother Carl is the same way. Guy can sleep through a hurricane. Easy prey in the wilderness. I remember in college there was this guy in the dorms who was like that. He had four alarm clocks to ensure he got up in time for classes. One time he went home for the weekend and forgot to turn off his alarms... The RA had to come with his master key, but not before the whole floor was awake, at 7 a.m., on a Saturday. God, did he catch hell for that.

This morning should play out like this: breakfast, workout at YMCA, phone calls to jail and Beloit Daily News, go get a new tube for my bike, followed by sloth and laziness until my trip to jail.

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