“What do you mean you got hit by a car?”
My cute intern was standing in front of me, seventeen stitches in her left knee.
“It just sort of…bumped me…while I was riding my bike to work.”
She didn’t want to go home – probably because she needed the hours – but I insisted. After some finagling with my boss, I handed her a stack of paperwork and promised to pay her regular wage.
“I have one other problem. I can’t ride home.” She signaled to her still-oozing knee. “Would you mind riding my bike to your place and I’ll have my sister pick it up tomorrow?”
Like I was going to say no. It didn’t matter that I was wearing a short cotton sundress and kitten heels. I’m an athlete (and anyone who says dancers aren’t should be slapped). I could figure it out. So what if I hadn’t ridden a bike in a decade? You aren’t supposed to forget how.
After work, I walked the bike half-a-block to the path that followed Lake Michigan’s coast. Hiking up my dress, I tried to climb on without giving anyone a shot of my unmentionables. I was especially worried because there was a slew of shirtless gentlemen warming up for a sand volleyball game.
My dress draped nicely, and I began pedaling slowly. I was a little shaky, but blamed it on my shoes. All was going well – for about fifteen feet – when the path curved slightly. How do you turn a bike? I didn’t figure it out before the stairs were looming in front of me.
I’m not exactly sure how it all happened (probably a result of head trauma), but I went down the first step without a problem, over the handle bars on the second, and was under the bike by time I got to the bottom.
“Holy $%@&! Are you okay?” Asked the bronzed-God standing over me. “That was like the worst fall I’ve ever seen.”
Jumping to my feet and smoothing down my dress, I reached for my laptop bag that managed to sail over my head and land beside me. “Oh yeah. I’m fine.”
“You know you’re bleeding right?”
My left knee had a giant gash and blood was already trickling down to my freshly-pedicured foot. “Um-hmm.” I turned my back to him, trying to locate one of my shoes. It was half-buried under the wreckage.
Volleyball-man followed me. “Here let me get that for you,” he said as he snagged the bike and carried it up the stairs.
Crap. He was being polite. I gave him a quick and very tremulous smile. “Thanks, I can take it from here.”
“Are you sure?” He didn’t relinquish his grip on the handle bars. “Do you even know how to ride it”
Forcing a little giggle, I told him the story of my intern and how I ended up with the bike. “But I haven’t ridden one since I was a little kid.”
One of his friends yelled at him to hurry up, and I saw a flicker of indecision on his face. “Well…you should probably walk it home.”
Boy, was I grateful chivalry is dead. I don’t think I could have handled the additional embarrassment of having him help me back to my apartment.
My ego flared. “No. I’ll ride it. It will be good practice.”
“But you’re bleeding.”
He watched as I climbed on the bike and pedaled away. I managed a quick backwards glance (fearful of crashing again), and saw that he was still watching my progress.
I got home without another incident, and spent the rest of the day nursing my wounds, which included a sore wrist, bruised shoulder, and sliced knee.
The next day when the sister came to pick up the bike, she said, “Man. She really messed this up.”
I just nodded and pushed her and the bike out the door.
For some reason I’ve never ridden a bike again, and have zero desire to try. Anyone blame me?