All I used to write about was riding bikes. Riding bikes fast. Riding bikes slow. Riding bikes alone. Riding bikes with people. Bikes, bikes, bikes.
I got married. I started a new job where I wear pants and go to a building with other people in it. These two significant events both impacted my understanding of what was fair game to write for the internet at large. If I posted one of my Juancho brand-certified rants would my sweet wife take that as a sign of unhappiness in our relationship? Would the job be concerned about being associated with terms like “sweat-soaked chamois see-through ass-crack window?”
I chickened out. I pulled in my talons.
But that was a long time, and no matter how I tried, these years just flow by like a broken down dam.*
I also started experimenting with fiction, which is really the most truthful of all writing forms, except for maybe poetry which, when good, is so truthful I can’t look it directly in the eye. Writing stories is tough, and it comes to me in pieces and parts without any instruction manual. I would throw away the manual with the packaging anyway.
I look up to a lot of writers and artists. Practical advice is hard to come by, and harder to take. Even when I admire someone’s art that doesn’t mean I can do much with it to further my own. One key exception is a quote I always attribute to Bob Dylan, but that likely has far more ancient roots.
“All it takes to write a good song is 3 chords and the truth.” So, with that advice in mind. Here we go. The truth.
I got the shit scared out of me a few months ago at the Doctor with a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes, which isn’t so much a disease, as a state of dis-ease. There is no bug crawling through your body agitating white blood cells. It is actually a checklist, a set of qualifying factors that permit you beyond the velvet rope into an exclusive club of 29,000,000 Americans. How about that? Pretty swank right? Bigger than Costco. The thing about it is that it is a self-inflicted wound, especially for someone like myself who can get any groceries I want and move my body as frequently as I wish. For other of my esteemed fellow club members they get it because they can’t buy hardly anything in their grocery store without corn syrup in it.
I lost almost 40 lbs, I cleaned up my act. Now the blood tests show nothing out of the ordinary. Its like yesterday there was a terrible crash on I-75 and today you can’t even find the skid marks. But you remember the carnage, and it happens to someone every day. It can happen to me again. All I have to do is take my eyes off the road.
So there it is, the truth in all of its freeing and humiliating glory. I’m going to keep writing this story, for Manny’s sake, and Duane’s, and June’s. I’m going to tell you all about my bike rides, every single one. That part is easy because I am a mutant again, basically two giant thighs with eyes on top. At least one thing here at the Big Ring Circus hasn’t changed in 10 years. Bikes are still magical, and they can save your life.
*Thanks to John Prine for the lyrical assist