Over a drink, I was discussing the benefits of cycling with Bec in Melbourne. Recently, she made a short film where she illustrated the twelve reasons why she likes cycling. 12 Reasons to Ride a Bike We both bicycle dressed in clothes suitable for the office and in an upright position. She has a beautiful red Lekker bicycle and in Melbourne I was riding a Gazelle Geneve which I had borrowed from Spokes in Abbotsford.
One of the benefits that she hadn’t captured in her short film was what I refer to as the “cut and run.” We ladies have all experienced this phenomena and possibly some men as well. My most recent experience was at a gallery opening in Sydney. I enjoyed the paintings and sculptures, met the artist, took a photo with him and another man asked me to take a photo of him with the artist. I complied without hesitation as I often ask others to take photos of me. I returned the camera and turned away. As I was packing my bag to depart, the man started a conversation. He asked me about myself while I was captive to my bag. I said, “It’s nice to meet you.” Eg. Politespeak for “Go away.” Instead, he proceeded to follow me outside the gallery. He told me about himself, not that I was interested. He was at least fifteen years older. I was patient, more patient than usual because I would soon “cut” the conversation short and “run” away by bicycle.
He followed me down the street to my bicycle and remarked, “Oh, you have your own transport.” “Yes.” I said and proceeded to unlock my bicycle. This is where the “cut and run” is awesome. Normally, if one walks home/to the train/bus and a strange man follows you ostensibly to chat you up and eventually ask for your number or (God forbid) try to steal a kiss, it’s necessary to be quite firm. Some ladies have trouble doing this. We want to be nice and not make a scene. We think that we give enough cues to make clear, “This will go nowhere, Dude.” But some men just don’t understand these cues. As a result, the “cut and run” is quite useful.
I said good-bye and rode off. I was safe and secure on my bicycle. This is in direct contrast to what happened in Paris many years ago. I was walking alone to a restaurant on my first trip to Paris. I have traveled all over the world alone. But in Paris, I have been commented on/to/about more than necessary. I have often wondered if the dialogue about my appearance would cease if I were in the company of a man?
A young man about my age came up to me and started to speak. I responded because I was getting my bearings. My famous sense-of-no-direction was in full force. I mentioned the restaurant’s location and he told me that I needed to walk in the opposite direction. I thanked him and he followed me all the way to the restaurant. I was in my mid-twenties and Manhattan was home. While it was great French practice, my street-sense led me to say that I was meeting friends when in fact, I was dining alone. He offered to meet me afterwards, which I politely declined. When I told the proprietress about my walk to the restaurant, she was both protective and shocked. She told me that she would order me a taxi after I finished my cassoulet. I had been looking forward to the walk home after such a heavy dinner in August but it was not meant to be tonight.
Bec and I discussed the vulnerability that comes with walking on a dark street alone, especially on a quiet night. We agreed that it’s better to walk alone when it’s busy and there are people around. The best case scenario? To bicycle home because you are faster than anyone on foot with nefarious plans or just plain annoying no matter how cute and/or drunk.
Today’s ensemble: Zara jumpsuit, J.Crew cuff, Geox heels, Swarovski earrings, Witchery sunglasses, Yakkay helmet, Cartier Santos, Linus Eleanor Bag, Gazelle Geneve.