SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH ALIENS 

The sun bounced back today, driving last week’s storms to New Jersey. The thermometer SKYROCKETED up near 50! I bundled myself, hung a scarf around my neck, put on my gloves and threw my bike in the back of “Bob,” my tan minivan, for a ride at Lum’s Pond. 

Stopping on the way to pump up my front tire, in the process I washed off the driver’s-side wing mirror and the little circular blind-spot mirror, which were both distorted by the schnog I’ve spat at speeds too low to sweep it into my slipstream. Blind-spot mirror, I discovered when I bought mine, is “espejo del punto ciego” in Spanish. Like the song says: “Spanish is the Loving Tongue,” and here was a phrase that rolls off the tongue like something Fernando Lamas would purr. After a few nights writing and rewriting “Mi Espejo del Punto Ciego,” though, I gave up, deciding the audience for my efforts would be, well, me. 

At the gas station, I pulled up next to the air pump and unloaded my bike. Just then this guy pulls up in a hatchback hollering “Señor, señor…aire!” 

Yeah, air—so what? I hadn’t started the machine, so I paused, figuring he might have some pressing need—like maybe he was suffocating? He looked to be a healthy 30-something though. All he wore was a tee-shirt, shorts, flip flops and the requisite Yankees hat. 

An ILLEGAL! Stealing air to make drugs! Or maybe he’d rape me. 

But no, he pulls out this little red box with a meter, that he plugs into his cigarette lighter. Then  he jumps out, hooks the rig to my front tire, which he starts pumping up. I’m feeling the tire, and when it’s rock hard I tell him bastante, but he puts in a little more. Then he pumps up the back one, too, just “un poguito.” 

By this time I’m laughing my nalgas off, and I ask him if he speaks any English. He says “mas o menos,” and I give him my card and tell him I’m an English teacher, and to please call me for a couple of lecciones. The only card I’ve got, though, is the silly one with Santana and Santa Claus, and I make a note to restock my wallet with a few that feature a photo of sober Crabby in his sport coat, in case I run into any more helpful Mexicans. 

Which I actually did last weekend, when I passed a lady whose car was stopped in the middle of the road. I parked in a church lot and recruited a big young dude who was washing his car to come help me push her up the hill. We were going pretty slow until I felt a huge thrust and realized two Mexicans had joined us. At that point I played the old dude card and stopped to catch my breath. When I got to the top of the hill, the lady had somehow driven off, the car washer was gone, and of course the illegals had fled the scene. 

Sneaky devils. 

Today I ended up doing Tai Chi on the dock at Lums Pond, since my tire is totaled and didn’t hold the air. Monday I’ll either take it to the bike shop in Newark, or down to the Korean guy in Dover, who will do a better job in half the time, for half the price. 

           

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