July 16th, 2005

Coffee Squirrel

Lula's (not so) Big Adventure or That Darn Bike

Or How I Spent my Friday Night:

I was on my way home from work. I got off the bus after the first transfer. I was waiting for my third bus and thinking of food. I walked across the street to Sibley Plaza at West 7th and Maynard and went to the Hacienda. They sell Peruvian food, Mexican food, Salvadoran food and...wait for it: Gyros. I got two Veggie Gyros and walked out in the muggy heat and realized what being so orally fixated has cost me: I left my bike on the second bus! And it was long gone. This is at 7p.

I called the Metro Transit help line. I spoke to a guy who had the bus driver paged. Can you describe the bike? Yes. An Iron Horse Outlaw. It's sky blue. Yes, the driver has it. You may have to go Monday to the Lost and Found to get it. That is not going to happen as I'm not even in Saint Paul during business hours. Okay. I arrange, after some haggling, to meet the bus driver on his way into downtown on one of his runs.

I go home at 7:40 or so. I eat. I listen to Eric bitch about yet another one of his high school friends who hasn't talked to him since he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. I don't think folks are afraid of catching what Eric has. We both agree that people are afraid of unhappy people. That person is not smiling! And they're *touching* you! Kill him! Kick him! They wipe off the blood. They're all better now that there aren't any sad people around.

Anyway, I spent half an hour at home. I go out and catch another bus to try to meet the bus on its way from the Airport on West 7th and Randolph at ten to nine. Two number 54 buses pass. Neither has my bike. I get on a 74 and ask him to get in touch with dispatch. He reluctantly does. He says: "Your story checks out and he's got your bike". Good, thinks I, but it wasn't a "story". He continues: "The bus that had your bike was going the other direction -- to the airport." "But they told me to meet it coming *from* the airport!" He shrugs. "You can meet it downtown at 10p and get it before the bus goes to the garage for the night." I have no choice. I agree.

I don't know if you've seen downtown Saint Paul at night. It closes at 6p. Then the freaks come out. I sing to myself. Arias my voice teacher taught me: "Seben crudele, mi fai languirre" or something like that. I sing a reggae song Eric sings to himself: "Bury my body, Lord, I don't care where. My soul wants to be with Jah". There is no place to go to the restroom. No place to sit. I was around. I have nearly 40 minutes to kill. I walk up to 4th and Minnesota and see a sign for Benjamin's. I see myself enjoying a White Russian and relaxing in the dark. I'm on my way. A portly guy with mutton chops in a minivan asks how I am. He looks, for you pop culture whores, like Bob from "That 70's Show". Except dipped in chocolate. I consider telling him my woes about my bike. I look at him and decide against it: "I'm...okay. Thanks."

I get to Benjamin's. Doors are locked. I find one further down that is open. I enter a lobby of sorts. I look around. It's so quiet. I go to Benjamin's. I open the door. No one is inside. It's creepy. I'm hoping for a restroom. I walk a few more feet inside. There are no lights but the emergency kind. I walk out. I look through the window of the lobby and see Black "Bob" (not to be confused with rapper Black Rob) smoking a cigarette. This creeps me out more. I couldn't seriously believe he paid to park so he could come back and try to hit on me. That doesn't happen. The parking had to be free. Or he was one of my insane minions wanting to chat about his delusions. Either way, I wasn't up for it. I go back into the empty bar expecting to be abducted by the Devil's Rejects or something (by the by: I have a pass for two to see this Rob Zombie movie for free. I wouldn't pay to see it. I won't be able to go because it's on a weekday and I won't be back in time. E-mail me if you want it: lula_cache@yahoo.com). I come back out. "Bob" is gone. I stay in the air-conditioned building and walk down a different hall. There's a desk with an old man planted behind it. I ask him if there's a restroom. No. I try to call Eric to tell him I'll be late. I only have 35 cents. I need 15 cents. I try to call collect. When did I have my phone disallow collect calls? I have no more cash. Just my card. I walk around the building. I keep feeling around in my pockets and another quarter appears. I call Eric and tell him I have to wait 'till ten and won't get home until after 11p. He's fine.

10p arrives. The bus driver is beaming at me. He has ridden around with my bike for three and a half hours. I thank him profusely and remove it from the rack with one hand to impress him. Then I ride the bike to the stop for the bus that will get me home. It's a 74. It's the same 74 that took me downtown. With the same driver. I thanked him for calling dispatch. I grinned: "I *got* it!" He said: "Good for you!"

I think after all that, my bike needs a name. How about E. Edward Grey. I could pretend I'm riding James Spader to work every morning. Oh, yeah! Mr. Grey. Or: I could change genders and call her Tallulah. I like the name and Jodie Foster played a Tallulah in "Bugsy Malone", a musical, child-gangster movie I've been trying to find the soundtrack for. Even at 12 Jodie was preternaturally alluring. Or I could call my bike Macha, my favorite of the Morrigan trifecta. I'll name her/him Monday morning.

I got home. I put my bike in the basement. I joined Eric in bed and asked how the pain was. He said it was better. But it's non-existent when he walks. Well, says I, you can't walk all night. I immediately wanted to snatch the words back because I know he would just to annoy me. I could see him walking back and forth, smoking and smiling.

"You know, if your lung collapses, they won't let you smoke in the hospital." I tell him.

"You'll have to sneak me some cigarettes."
"Uh, no. I won't."

"Then," he says "I'll just have to march up and down the halls of the hospital yelling: No cigarettes? No peace! No cigarettes? No peace!"

I can't help but laugh. Tee, hee. So. Yet again, I have him agree to at least talk to someone Monday if it doesn't go completely away. We go to sleep with the air-conditioner humming in our ears. I have an odd dream about Chad Lowe. Not sure what's going on there...

Anyway, I wake up late this morning. I felt good. I felt like things will work out. Even if they don't and Eric decides to go out of this world a la Nic Cage in "Leaving Las Vegas", at least we've got the paperwork in order. No cigarettes? No peace. Later.

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