I do not embarrass easily. Spinach in my teeth doesn’t phase me. Tripping and falling in front of a large group of people? That’s just a regular Tuesday. I am the girl who once accidentally called the HR director a nasty name before begging for a job. I am the girl who walked around a cruise ship with a huge hole in the seat of my pants. I find myself in embarrassing situations all the time and have thus built up a sort of superhuman tolerance to mortification. Having said that, the situation I found myself in last Sunday embarrassed me to a such a degree that I hesitated writing about it because it still makes my face turn a sweaty crimson.
Last Sunday was Daylight Savings Time. (Incidentally, did you know that even though Arizona does not recognize DST, the Navajo nation living in Arizona switch their clocks with the rest of us? Odd and confusing.)
Anyway, on the morning of Spring Forward, I thought to myself What better way to celebrate an hour less of insomnia than heading out on The Rocket for a beautiful bike ride? Three of my friends met at my house and we set out.
What I mean by ‘we set out’ is the three of them were way faster than I was and I watched their backsides pedal away from me as I grew increasingly bitter. I was especially irritated since one of them hasn’t ridden his bike in months.
During the occasional seconds he was actually riding next to me, I told him I was going to push him over. I think he thought I was kidding. Or maybe he knew I was serious because he never came within arms length.
It really was a beautiful day. Crisp, dry and not a hint of wind. Just about as perfect as a day can get. We rode out towards Shasta Dam and took the turn that makes the climb to the Dam harder, longer, and much more scenic. Of course my three friends were much faster at climbing than I was. I was slogging uphill at around five miles an hour. I have ridden this hill several times this year. I know this hill well. Even when my heart threatens to pound straight out my throat and when my quads are on fire, I know I can beat it. In fact, I’ve ridden this hill enough times to say that I actually like it. I like the challenge. I like pushing myself when my body wants to quit. And I like how beautiful the views of Redding are from up there.
I had my lone earbud in and Bruce Springsteen’s Secret Garden was the perfect soundtrack for the morning. Go ahead and make fun, I love that song. Aside from two cars that passed me on the beginning of the hill and a descending hiker, I had the whole climb to myself. As I turned a corner, I looked down on Redding, still half asleep and hushed. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to enjoy nature at her fullest. So, I abandoned Bruce for the sounds of nature around me. Birds chattered somewhere in the bushes. There wasn’t even a whisper of wind. It was serene.
As I continued around another corner I saw a truck with a camper in tow pulled over on the other side of the road. From the camp chair outside the trailer it looked like they’d set up camp right there on the side of the road. Who could blame them? The view really is that pretty. I pedaled closer.
Wait, is that trailer rocking? No, it can’t be. There isn’t even any wind. Weird. It must be on unstable ground or something.
Oh, I am so naive. I pedaled further up the hill and unfortunately closer to the trailer.
Oh, man it’s definitely rocking. Oh no, it’s rocking harder.
At this point I’d figured out what was most likely going on in the trailer, but I couldn’t turn around and go back downhill because my three fast friends were waiting for me at the Dam. Curses for being so slow.
I tucked my head down and tried to pedal faster, but I was already going as fast as I could. It’s a three mile hill, for goodness sake. I couldn’t sprint up this thing. With the trailer just ahead of me, I began to hear what was going on inside it. This may come as a surprise, but camper walls aren’t very thick. I am so not into other people’s intimate moments. Movie sex scenes make me squeamish, no matter how “tasteful and artistic” they are. I just don’t want to see or hear that.
When Terry and I were newlyweds, we moved into an apartment across a courtyard from The Screamer. She often combined alcohol and marital bliss. The Screamer would scream so loudly that the entirety of the complex would come out in droves to yell back at her. Some people would even bang on pots and pans to drown out her enthusiasm. Terry and I would close the windows and tuck our heads under our pillows. Needless to say, we didn’t live there long.
So, there I was chugging uphill. No window to close. No pillow to muffle out the sounds. I shoved my single earbud back in, but even Christina Aguilera’s pipes couldn’t compete with the Rock of Love Trailer. I pushed harder and The Rocket responded by increasing to a whopping 5.7 miles an hour. I began to sing along with Christina. The noises grew louder. My stomach began to churn. My already sweaty face filled with a deeper flush. I sang louder, pedaled harder, and fought back the heat threatening to erupt from my stomach.
Just as I became parallel to the trailer, the occupants inside reached their crescendo. I was way too close. I needed a brain scrubber stat.
Think about puppies. Think about your grocery list. Think about your favorite movie. Think about any movie. Think of something. Think of anything else other than the fact that you are trapped in someone else’s private time. Then it came to me: The Forrest Gump prayer. Dear God, make me a bird so I can fly far, far away. Dear God, make me a bird so I can fly far, far away.
Over and over it was my mantra until I passed the trailer. The noises ceased and I didn’t look back.
Earlier in the morning I’d pondered What better way to celebrate an hour less of insomnia than heading out on The Rocket for a beautiful bike ride? Well, I guess I got my answer.