17 February 2008

SPROING! / Later That Same Day

Sprout faster, you cotyledonous bastard! Spring comes not when
the calendar says it does, but when I'm damn good and ready to
get on my bike and speed it into existence.


It's spring, goddamnit. It is because I have proclaimed it so. The fact that I laid in my driveway and installed a new bike rack on my car yesterday (just like this one) without either getting soaked to the bone or freezing my treats off is my proof. Today the forecast calls for sun - real sun, not that half-assed ice-cold "mock" sun that you get in the winter - so I'm planning on spending my entire day on my bike, wind in my teeth, pollen in my hair, manufacturing vitamin D until the cows roost.

Speaking of which, there was an article in the Seattle Times recently on the impact of living in unrelenting dankness. I think it was called, "Winter Dankness: Sucky, Or Really Truly Sucky?" or something to that effect. It was 'duh' sort of proposition. Of course living in dankness can't be good for you unless you're a salamander or porpoise or some other sort of critter who can't retain bodily fluids unless partially submerged at all times. (Or a Scandinavian, for instance. -Ed.) The interesting-yet-shocking point that the article brought up was that we (meaning Pac Northwesterners or "Mossbacks") have a notable increase in or susceptibility to diabetes, heart attacks, and multiple sclerosis. The Times points the finger at vitamin D3. There's just no way the tiny amount of solar radiation we get between October and March is enough to maintain a healthy level. Since I don't drink milk, I don't have a real good source of D3, so I figured I'd just go out and buy some and start taking it and see what happened.

What happened was SPROING! It was as though spring bloomed full-force within the very garden walls of my being. People who know me well claimed that I had positively annoying amounts of energy. I don't know about the annoying part as I believe that I'm pretty annoying to most people most of the time, what with my constant baying and hooting and "raise the roof" gestures in otherwise serene-to-languid settings as, say, the workplace and, say, mortuaries. But I can tell you that I got that feeling that I only get when the sun comes out - specifically when I'm hiking in the sun. I'm talking like toddler-esque amounts of joy.

Sure, it could be placebo effect. Or it could be that I'm finally experiencing Garcia Effect for the taste of winter.

Look, I'd love to stay and chat but the sun just came streaming through the front win-

(EPILOGUE: The author's chair was found empty, as was his bottle of vitamin D3. His bike was nowhere to be found. -Ed.)



I had a heck of a bike ride. Tested out the new bike rack by taking our bikes down to Myrtle Edwards Park which is about 8 miles south of here, and is also a place where a portion of my proposed bike commute to and from work will pass. Since the bike route maps of Seattle are incomplete in places, I thought I'd start at Myrtle Edwards and find my way going north to the Hiram Chittenden Locks. From there I figure I can pretty much by guess and by golly it the rest of the way home. The one-way distance from my workplace to my home on my proposed route is about ten miles. I did about that much today (I think) going from Myrtle Edwards to the Locks and back. Or maybe it was only six. It felt like thirty. The important thing is that I learned that it's mostly uphill with one vertiginous downhill block and slippery wooden bridge just before you get to the locks. I'd better grow and extra lung.

After our ride, Teresa and I went and purchased many more (necessary) doo-dads and knick-knacks for our bikes (rear view mirror so I can see if my sweet, sweet Muffin has fallen too far behind; panniers and a trunk for my laptop and work clothes). Then we came home and treated ourselves to a cigar in the sunshine whilst reclining in our camp chairs in the back yard. She entertained herself with some thirty-pound novel and I read The New Yorker.

Which brings me to the subject of nicknames. There's a rambling article about nicknames by David Owen that's definitely worth reading, should you happen upon the latest issue of the NYker at the dentist or bail bondsman's office. Owen suggests that we give nicknames for different reasons. We give them to teachers and other adults when we're young to limit their terrible authority. We give them to our peers out of affection that lends us the ability to see something in them that those who christened them never saw.

When I was in high school, all my friends had nicknames: Bilm, Pro, Rocky, Little Rock (Rocky's brother), Cork, Megaton, Oatface, Nielsaroni Face, Big D (alternately Big Dez), Bish, Looter, Mack, Bills, Lizard, DKR (alternately Dra Kay Ra, acronymous for Daniel Kenton Reasoner), and Hercle Ivy. (Hercle Ivy even gave nicknames to his family: sister Jive, mother Jive Senior, and The Bear.) I simply went by T, the least colorful of all nicknames. Perhaps it was because I was enigmatic in some way since I was the only kid I knew who didn't live at home. I also often carried a "bag of tricks" with me to class which at any given time contained a length of jute rope (for who knows what), a jar of vaseline (for greasing doorknobs), a fifth of Seagram's gin in the "ancient" bottle and some Tom Collins mixer (for fun), a hemostat, and several dozen condoms (for wishful thinking). I was known from eighth grade on as the inventor of the most complicated handshakes imaginable, some taking almost two full minutes to execute. I was an honor student, by the way.

I don't know many people who have nicknames now, other than old bosses and co-workers who I've bestowed nicknames on behind their back - Kaptain Kaos (or Double K), for instance. Or the pestiferous duo of product managers who had the habit of buzzing into my office and telling me how to write copy. I dubbed them Thing One and Thing Two. I have affectionate nicknames for former co-workers who I consider friends - Francie, for instance, for Francesca who in turn calls me Gunny Sack. I'm pretty sure everyone who has ever worked with Matt "Douchebag" Lange calls him either Lange or Douchebag (lovingly, mind you). Given his unique and consistent penchant for blowing things off, we actually verb-ized his last name. If you inadvertantly stand someone up for a lunch date, you have "totally Langed" on them. You've met Elizabeth, of course. How she got the nickname Becky was a stretch. When I was really excited over something I'd say to her, "Ohmigod Becky!" (which is naturally a reference to the opening line of the Sir Mix-A-Lot classic "Baby's Got Back"). To which she would reply, "OhmiGAWD my name's not Becky!" So of course from then on out she was Becky to me. However if anyone else called her that, I'm sure they'd get at least hissed at.

Which now brings to the reason why I absolutely hate being called "Thad" - always have, always will. I know that relatives do it out of habit, and acquaintances do it out of a need for familiarity, like automatically calling someone "Bob". But it's not a name. "Thaddeus" is a name. It means "big hearted". "Thad" is a sound effect. It is the sound that horse poop makes when it hits pavement. I'd rather be called by one of the nicknames I've heard before (T. Gunn, Gunnie, Gunny Sack, or Teresa's reciprocal nickname for when I call her Muffin, which is Stuffin') than be called Thad.

And with that, I bid you a good night, my dear Bonus Lips!