My wife insisted that I buy a bicycle. She wanted me to have one just like hers—a used $50 beach cruiser that had been spray-painted electric blue by someone who must have spent the better part of a 90� day drinking rumrunners on the beach. Her bike had a thick metal frame and fat ribbed tires that looked invulnerable to the shards of glass common on Fort Lauderdale Beach, where we live. It had no gears and no hand brakes, but it did have a wire basket and a tinkling bell on the handlebars. On the day she brought her bike home, I was lying by the swimming pool. "Well!" she said breathlessly, hopping off. "What do you think?" She was beaming.
"It's...uh...nice," I lied.
"Oh, I love it! You ought to get one."
"Really," she went on. "We could bike everywhere together."
I gave my head a little shake no.
"It will open up broad new avenues of life for you," she said.
"I don't want to open up broad new avenues of life," I said. What I didn't say was that I felt self-conscious riding a bike. At 44, I was too old to join the legion of bikini-clad beach bunnies and their stringy-haired boyfriends who pedaled up and down the center of the Strip at the beach. And I wasn't fanatic enough to join the helmeted crew of yuppies who, in their shimmering knee-length biker's tights, crouched low over their downcurving handlebars and hurtled past our apartment complex on their 12-speed Fuji racers. And, finally, I was afraid that if I bought a bike it would not be long before I resembled that loose-and-leathery-skinned old man who pedaled his battered beach cruiser past our gym each morning. He had a white beard and a tattered straw hat. A Scottish terrier sat in his handlebar basket. I already had a beard that was turning white, and I did not need a beach cruiser with a Scottish terrier in the basket, pointing up the fact that aging is inevitable.
Perhaps if I had told my wife all of this she would have been more merciful. As it was, she made a point of pedaling everywhere, even refusing to ride with me in the car. The first time that happened, I drove 10 miles per hour and leaned across the passenger seat. "Please, get in!" I urged. She shook her head no and pedaled on. I hissed at her, "You're making a fool of yourself!" She pedaled faster. A cop stopped me. He called her back.
"Is this guy pestering you?" he asked.