This post is sponsored by totally justified paranoia and excessive fantasies of gratuitous violence. Since my bike was unjustly ripped from my life–which you can read more about here if that’s something you want to do–I find myself more suspicious of the people around me than is perhaps healthy. I saw a child on a bicycle and strongly considered asking him if he’d seen anything funny a few nights ago. Maybe it was the innocent glimmer in his eyes. Maybe it was the grating sound of his youthful giggle. Maybe it was his comically large front teeth that reminded me of my awkwardly proportioned childhood. No matter the reason, I didn’t trust this little bastard, and I desperately wanted to use the full weight of my status as “adult” to interrogate him to learn the truth behind all the disgusting criminal activity of this bite-sized Al Capone.
But I didn’t. Because jail is scary. However, I’ve been having a lot of thoughts like that since the theft of my dear, dear bikey–yes, she had a name. I’m not as trusting as I once was, and I wasn’t that trusting to begin with. I’ve lost my natural happy-go-lucky disposition which has instead been replaced by a dour curmudgeon that I just don’t recognize. I used to be such a ray of sunshine, such a peach, but now I’ve transformed into a paranoid, bitter wretch.
Every bike has become mine. I see someone riding down the road, and my first impulse is to hurl my body at theirs and take back what was taken from me. I see bikes locked at gas stations, grocery stores, my own campus, and I see them first as rows upon rows of my own, but the image fades, and all that is left are lines of unfamiliar chains and tires. If my life were a romance movie, this would be the part where I’m walking around town in the rain why sad music plays to convince the audience that they should be sad too. I haven’t walked up to a bike shop and put my hand against the window, but I’ve seriously considered it.
This isn’t the first time I’ve had something important stolen from me. When I was young, someone stole my Gameboy, but I was convinced I had only lost it. For weeks I wanted to check under a dresser that was too heavy for my frail child-body to move, so I’d ask my dad or brother to help. They knew it wasn’t under there. Then, when I was a slightly older child, my backpack was stolen from the back seat of my brother’s car–his was too, but this self-pitying story is about me. I remember walking around in the bushes near the public library where the theft had happened because I was convinced that, upon seeing that a child’s backpack was full of textbooks, notebooks with illegible handwriting, and some broken pencils, the thief would discard it. I later started to believe that the thief had been some strange collector of underfunded elementary school textbooks because that’s about all they could have taken that was worth anything. Sometimes, I still picture a room lined with oversized books with peeling spines and “boobies” carved into the cover, and in the center of this room is a man convulsing on a pile of stolen notebooks.
I’m mostly back at work now. I’m writing a loose outline of what I want the semester to look like, planning for the next 16 weeks of my life. But in the background, I hear them, the students. And they’ve all got bikes. If only they knew that three stories above them was a brooding and bitter teacher, scowling down at them and their innocent disregard for how lucky they are to not have had their precious bikes stolen. If I were in a tower, I’d be obligated to wear a cloak and call myself a supervillain with a strange bike-related theme. Instead, I’m still annoyed and browsing Craigslist because I have the slim hope that my bike will turn up there, and then I can find the culprit and bludgeon them until they can win a Sylvester Stallone lookalike contest.