la ville: Hey, what's the book?
la ville: What are you reading?
al: Book called The Death and Life of Great American Cities.
la ville: What's that about?
al: It's about... urban planning. (this was not really a very good answer but I needed to say something before the pause became really unreasonable
la ville: What's that?
al: Ways that governments and other bodies try to shape development in cities, and the real effects that they have.
la ville: Oh. So you really come to a park to read a book?
la ville: That's pretty weird, man.
la ville: I mean, I guess I read some books when I was locked up. Not much else to do there. But in a park?
al: *Knocks on window of red Ford SUV well back in a column of cars stopped at the stoplight on northbound Halsted at Division*
la ville: *Startled, spins her head around to see Al. Looks positively terrified. Has a god damn dog in her god damn lap.
al: *Makes window-cranking gesture with his right hand. How anachronistic. Al's car still has crank-windows, but Al's car isn't here. Al's bike is here. It has no windows.*
la ville: *Fumbles nervously with some switches. In time gets the passenger window cracked open.*
al: You needed to give me more clearance on that bridge back there. Those bridges are tough to ride on, and we need proper space.
la ville: I'm sorry, I didn't see you.
*The light turns green at this point. Damn shame, as Al was about to get right pissed off. Didn't see me? If that's all the attention you're going to pay to the road when you're driving, you can take your car back to the suburbs where it belongs and GET OFF MY STREETS! Yes, they belong to me as much as anyone. More certainly than they belong to anyone that doesn't pay attention to the road.*
EDITORIAL RANT: The fact that this woman was visibly more scared of me knocking on her window in broad daylight on a busy street than I was at how close she came when she passed me can mean only one of the following two things, or both. First, that she is irrationally afraid of weird people in the city (it's kind of unfortunate that penetrating automotive isolation is considered so weird, isn't it?) and should follow her car back to the suburbs, where she won't necessarily be safer but will feel that way. Second, that I am way too desensitized to irresponsible cager behavior in the great city of Chicago and need to get away. In case the second is true, I am biking to Urbana on Thursday and back on Sunday.
EDITORIAL RANT #2: I have a sort-of new idea. Which is that when the cagers get out of hand, we should meow at them. You know, cat noises. Some jerk just honk at you for pulling out into the lane to avoid an obstacle, even though you signaled, had plenty of room behind, and got back right promptly? Don't anger 'im with a flip of the bird. Confuse 'im with a long, plaintive meeoooooooow! In fact, I should have meowed at red SUV woman today. Pawed at her window and then started meowing.
(Apologies to Claude Debussy. This is not the first time I've named a blog post after the final movement of La Mer.)
EDIT: it's come to my attention that not everyone knows what "cager" means. It means this. I like "cager" because "motorist" sounds like some starry-eyed motherfucker in a Model T, bouncing potholes on a dirt road on the way from McConnelsville, Ohio to New York City to make his fortune (it's by this point the afternoon of Wednesday, October 30, 1929; this guy hasn't exactly been keeping up with the papers while on his trip). Also because "motorist" includes scooter and motorcycle folk, who generally act quite differently than cagers on the road, for obvious reasons.