Not yet naked

Crouched down against the concrete wall of an industrial park, I looked out into Saturday night in NW Portland and a sea of people, mostly young, in various stages of undress and revelry. All body shapes were represented: tall, short, large, small, male, female, non-conformist. Music with a beat thumped out into the cold air. It was dark, around 10:30 PM.

Bikes everywhere. Beer being drunk. Laughing, both uproarious and nervous.

And dancing. Much dancing.

I was just taking it all in. I had not yet taken any clothes off, but I knew I would. I was waiting until closer to midnight, when this huge party crowd would be mounting their tall bikes, their mountain bikes, their retro cruiser bikes, their stripped-down fixies, and even their Clevercycles and unicycles and skateboards and every other kind of human-powered wheeled contraption, and take to the streets of Portland.

Naked. As naked as they want to be.

I was just getting over a cold, and I knew that riding in the naked would likely cause a relapse, but I wasn’t going to miss it. But the extra layer of mental protectionism that kept me clothed until the last minute also kept me a bit separate from the pre-ride party. I was an observer, not a participant. Not yet.

I pulled out my phone and keyed in a text:

To: Tracy:

I hate being in a crowd and feeling so alone.

Almost immediately came her reply:

Go make some new friends!

To which I responded:

That seems more difficult than riding my bike naked.

As brave as I might be for riding naked, I still had the cover of being one of thousands. And yet, I still felt self-pity.

Almost as soon as I received Tracy’s "LOL! OK." in reply, I glanced up and saw a guy who looked barely old enough to drink, tall, thin, dark hair – geeky – look at me and smile.

“Is this your first time?” he asked.

After asking him to repeat himself (it was noisy and my ears were still stuffed up from the cold, not out of rudeness), I told him, “No, actually, it’s my second. You?”

His smile, already sheepish, became even more so. “Yes! I just wanted to come see if this was really happening.”

I laughed. “Oh, it’s happening.”

“So… how naked are you going to get?”

I wondered, briefly, if he was picking up on me or just looking for a safe person to talk to. I was flattered either way, though I didn’t swing that way. “I’m going to get all the way naked. But not just yet.”

He continued to make small talk – he biked all the way from Milwaukie, south of Portland – while I continued to think about what kind of vibe I was giving off.

And then an older woman, glasses, gray hair, dressed in sensible sandals and pants and a technical jacket, approached us from the other side. “Hi,” she said, cautiously. “Is this your first time?”

She was, like the kid, mainly there out of curiosity. Would this actually happen? She was looking for a friend of hers, though with the crowd growing larger by the minute, it seemed unlikely that she would find her. And she was, as I suspected, gay and out.

She joined in our conversation, each of us talking about just how amazing this was that so many people could come together for such a silly and subversive idea as riding a bike naked. Without pointing out any one person in particular, we expressed amazement at the variety of people present. And as it turns out, I was the one who had done it before.

The kid was a college student. The woman was an activist and social worker.

And, again: what kind of vibe do I give off, that out of that huge crowd I became the focus point for a young boy and an older lesbian?

Here’s to dad

I’ll blog about the party and World Naked Bike Ride later.

First, though: here’s to dad.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

Would you believe this is the only picture in my collection of my dad? I apologize for the grain and general poor quality of it; this was cropped out of a larger picture of other family members, who may kill me if I post them on the internet.

Dad may kill me, too, but hey, it’s Father’s Day.

The picture was taken on Christmas Day, 2003, in Puerto Vallarta Mexico, in our hotel room. We were all on a family vacation. Dad’s doing what he always does; taking lots of pictures.

Hey, maybe him being behind the camera is why I don’t have many pictures of him?

I’m off to a barbecue at my sister’s house; her husband grills up a mean steak. Maybe I’ll try to sneak in some more shots of dad.

The drink will flow and blood will spill

Sorry it’s been so quiet around here. Summer’s almost here, the boys are back in town, and they’ve been asking if you were around; how you was, where you could be found.

Damn, what ever happened to Thin Lizzy?

At any rate, in addition to finally committing my thoughts and feelings about the naked bike ride to words, I also have a post in me about where and how our democracy is failing. Several things I’ve come across lately, from an advice columnist writing about workplace issues (just click through the ad – it won’t kill you), to a conversation with Tracy’s mom about the local Del Monte raids, to the drywaller’s strike, to my own union, have been leading me to finally see something that’s been there all along. And it’s not pretty. But it might take a long post to collect all my thoughts. That post is coming. Consider this a bookmark.

I’m a thinker, that’s for sure. I’ve also been involving myself in the physical, though. Meeting my youngest nephew for a movie tonight after work (he asked me to see Rise of the Silver Surfer). Got a 5K race on Mt. Tabor on Saturday, and instead of getting a FlexCar I’m going to bike there and back again. Father’s Day brunch Sunday morning (again, biking to and from), and I talked my sister into getting an ice cream cake from . And I’m trying to arrange two dates this weekend (yes, two different girls, why do you ask?)

So forgive me if I’m not ready to spend time documenting. Too busy living. 🙂

Naked Bike Ride: Bits ‘n’ Pieces

I’ve got notes that I took immediately after the naked bike ride on Saturday night, and added to the following day, and I’ve been meaning to turn them into a huge long article.

But… minutes turn into hours, and hours turn into days, and before days turn into weeks I must stop and post something. I’ve put these snippets, these bits ‘n’ pieces if you will, in chronological order. They should have enough context to make sense. That’s my hope, anyway. They make sense to me.

After this, I want to write about how I felt, and how I continue to feel, about the experience. This post is just about the act and the little conversations I had along the way.

At the tie table, I pulled out a tie with tiny little ducks all over it, and showed it to the cute blonde next to me. “If you like ducks, this is the tie for you.”

“Well, if you like ducks, maybe you should wear it. Do you like ducks?”

“I’m partial to ducks.”

“What kind of ducks? Mallards?”

“Wood ducks, mostly.”

“BOY ducks?” she said with a smile.

I laughed. “Wood ducks!”

“But if you liked boy ducks you’d only like about 50% of them,” she pointed out.

“Oh, no, don’t get me wrong. I like the OTHER 50%.”

She was completely dressed. I caught up to her. “You kinda stand out,” I said to her.

She laughed, nervously. “Really?”

I said, “Well… you’re not NAKED.”

Indignant, she replied, “I took my top off!”

I can’t tell which made me laugh more: the guys who wanted to high-five me, or the guys who WOULDN’T high-five me.

“Man, when I wake up, this is going to be the BEST DREAM EVER.”

People are either saying, “I’m so drunk!” OR “I’m NOT DRUNK ENOUGH.”

Lady: “It’s good to see that you’re wearing your reflectors.”
Me: “Well, I want to be seen.”

Me: “Oh, I’m sorry! I don’t mean to MOON YOU.”

Every man in the military, mostly sailors (I didn’t see any women in uniform), got a “Thank you for your service!” from me.

My quadriceps are gonna hurt like hell tomorrow.

On Front Ave., some of the floats from the Grand Floral Parade were parked. I stopped long enough to pull out a purple flower and stick it in my helmet.

As I mentioned, the party theme was “office casual” and back at the party there was a pile of ties from which to choose. I had one, and wore it all night. About two thirds into the ride, I realized it was covering me up. I wanted to be naked. So I flipped the tie around to dangle down my back.

“I’m cold!”

“I’m not.”

“My breasts just suddenly got cold!”


Naked Bike Ride: Prologue

Friday night. I’m at the Acropolis, as usual. I had to come in to see if S. was dancing. I wanted to tell her about the midnight naked bike ride.

She was.

I did. Right after watching her on the stage for a full set, and two private dances.

As the song ended, she was sitting in the chair opposite me. I leaned forward. “I’m doing something crazy tomorrow night,” I said.

Her eyes lit up and she leaned forward, too. “What?”

“I’m going on a naked bike ride.”

“What? Naked?” She thought a moment. “I think I’ve heard about that!” She stood up and gathered up her bra, panties and skirt.

“Yeah. It’s awesome. I’ve never been naked in public before. You’ve inspired me with all your talk about being naked.”

She looked down at me and her face grew serious for a moment. “Thank you! That’s… I appreciate that.” She struck a pose, arms wide. “The world needs more naked people!”

I laughed. “I agree completely!”

She sat down in the chair next to me and put on her thong, carefully stepping into them with her 9-inch platform shoes. “Have you ever seen a naked war?” She arched her back to raise her ass so she could pull the panties up.

“No! Well… sometimes the losers are naked.” I pulled out my wallet, fished out the money.

She continued, on a funny rant. I don’t think she’d heard me. “How about a naked fight?” she challenged me, “Knife fight? Mugging? Nobody fights when they’re naked! Naked people are not angry people!”

“That’s very true. They’re too busy giggling.”

She laughed.

I pulled at my shirt, stopped. “I’d be so naked right now if I could.”

She nodded, hiding a grin. “I bet you would. I just bet you would.” She shrugged into her bra, stood, reached around and did the clasp.

I shook my head. “Curse these rules that keep me clothed!” I shook my fist in the air. I started to hand the money to her. She lifted one leg, balancing on one foot, and offered her stocking-clad thigh for me.

I tucked the money into the stocking. The brief warm contact of my fingers on her leg buzzed far more than it should have. I looked up and our eyes locked while she lowered her leg. I thought that was a neat trick of balance.

“My friend, Tracy? You’ve met her, remember?” Sharai nodded, I continued. “She doesn’t think I can do this. She wants me to… just doesn’t think I’ll go through with it.”

Our gaze was still locked and we stood very close together. In her shoes she was over 6 foot. I was looking up at her smiling eyes.

“What, like she think you’re gonna pussy out of it?”

I nodded, smirking. “But talking like that just makes me want to do it more!”

“Oh, no,” she said, enthusiastically. “You’re going to do it. You have that sparkle in your eyes.”

I like to ride my bicycle

Quick post before I go to bed:

Yes I did it.

It was the best thing I have ever, ever done.

And I’ve done a lot of awesome things.

But tonight, naked, on a bike, with 500 of my newest friends… that’s the topper.

I can’t wait to go looking through Flickr and YouTube this week.

More details later. G’night, Portland! I love this town!