A collection of essays, outdoor adventure stories, ruminations, wordplay, parental angst, and blatant omphaloskepsis, generated in all seasons and for many reasons at 64.8 degrees north latitude

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Pooping unicorns

This morning, a friend (who may or may not have been feeling a trace grouchy about the prevailing meteorological conditions) asked me for advice on how to be happy in the rain.  He didn’t specify, but I have my suspicions that he was referring to a very special subset of precipitational joy: biking in the rain. 
Upon receipt of his missive, I was lucky enough to spend the following hour in intense study of this very subject, during which time I mentally threw together a list of Super Helpful Advice.
Given the source, all items on this list should probably be assiduously and vigorously ignored.
1)      Thermoregulation. 
This is first because it’s the most important thing.  Really.
Being too cold is miserable.  Being a hot sack of homo-sapiens-raingear-sweat is also less than desirable.  Being soaking wet, on the other hand, doesn’t necessarily suck. 
Wait… you do occasionally shower, right?  Right?
2)      Fenders. 
See photographic evidence.  Being wet is okay, so long as the wetness is the dewy sky-sprinkling of pure and joyous rain-prisms.  The gritty road-poop of wheel-spun crud is less splendid, unless you’re an insanely cheerful five-year-old, specially bred for that purpose.
3)      Clothes that are not utterly gross when wet (see #1). 
If it’s too hot to pedal in full raingear, or any raingear at all, you should be wearing something minimalist that approximates swimwear: say, Teva sandals, a nylon tank top and lightweight nylon shorts with a liner.  Nah, you don’t need boxers.  And you definitely do not need panties.  No one of either gender ever needs panties, unless the word is used in an ironic context -- in which case you all need them. Biking across town in a stars and stripes bikini is also an acceptable strategy, and has been successfully road-tested by one of my family members.  I’m not divulging which one, but I trust your powers of imagination.
4)      Change of clothes for when you get there.
I’m making the bold assumption that “there” is somewhere that does not appreciate drippy, gritty, slightly steaming people.  A shower at your destination is a nice bonus, but if not, you too can be the person sponging off your children with paper towels in a public restroom.
5)      Raingear. 
Yeah, this is kind of far down the list.  Most people think of this first, not, like, fifth.  However, the truth is that raingear is hot and awkward and inevitably a bit leaky, in an up-the-sleeves-and –down-the-neck kind of way. It’s what you use when it’s too cold to bike in your swimwear, and too hot to be snowing (which is a different blog post; ask again in September).   It’s worth investing in a rain jacket that is lightweight, at least a bit breathable (see #1), fully waterproof, and long enough to cover your butt in the back (see #2).  As for rain pants, just get the bombproof cheap kind that make you look like some kind of obsessive fisherman.  Then when they get torn or covered in chain oil, you’ll just look like a more authentic obsessive fisherman.  My kids even bike in their colorful little rubber boots, with their home-sewed rainpants pulled down over the tops.  It won’t look cute when you do it.
6)      Umbrellas. 
If you are not biking, not hiking, and in fact not moving or using your hands in any way, and if you are located somewhere with no wind, no trees, and no other people around (or, at least, only people who like being repeatedly poked in the eye), then an umbrella might be extremely handy.  Or so I hear.  I do not own an umbrella.
So there you have it: Rainy Day Happiness! 
Of course, some of you may have noticed that this list is missing a crucial element, which we should probably call “Zero [0]*: Being batshit crazy.”  When biking in the rain, it is crucial to persuade yourself, your companions, your children, and all the people passing you in weatherproof vehicles, that you are having a seriously splendiferous time.  [My spell-checker just accepted “splendiferous”, which makes me think that I may be more sane than I thought I was.]
This morning, I told the kids that there would probably be a rainbow any minute, and they should watch for it.  And then a ginormous rainbow appeared.  Seriously.  I mean, I’d have a photo, if I were at all competent as a blogger.  Anyhow, I told them it had been pooped out by magical unicorns, and they lectured me about the electromagnetic spectrum, and then we all sang “Roy G. Biv”, by They Might Be Giants. 
Because, well, obviously.

* There are many ways in which being a Zero [0] makes me happy.  Results may vary. 

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