As we head into another winter, I am reminiscing on the many winters that my late wife Norma, The Pearl of the Orient and I spent in the sunny South. Around the Debating Table at the Bakery in Rainy River a collection of long faces is bemoaning the lack of snow as they spent another grass bound week unable to ice fish or destroy the serene silence of a winter’s eve without snow machines snarling through the town. All I can say is “tough titty!’ I digress…
My wife, the Pearl of the Orient was an exercise nut! She did her best to encourage me to bestir my bloated carcass. Winter at the resort in northern Florida was pleasant and usually sunny, but not always real warm. Since our unit was a block or so from the heated pool, the Pearl commandeers the van to haul her load of accessories including, warm-up suit, pool slippers flotation devices, noodles, weights, boom box, etc. down to the pool, leaving me to find my own way south at my leisure.
Suitably attired-in my opinion- I mount my trusty bike and with a towel draped around my neck, wool work socks under my sandals and scarlet bathrobe flowing out behind, I wheel down to the pool in style. I think I cut quite a flamboyant figure.
The Pearl described it somewhat differently.
“You look like an old fuddy-dud of a fart!” she snorted after perusing the latest men’s fashion magazine.
“Those socks and sandals! And that ratty old robe! You’ve been scratching your butt through it so much, it’s all frayed in the back and looks like you have an exhaust port, exactly where it should be!” the Pearl continued in animated disgust.
“Why on earth aren’t you using that nice wind suit the Rainy River Walleye Tournament gave you two years ago. You haven’t put it on once, and look at these new pool slippers. Show a little decorum and fashion sense,” she snorted gathering up her goodies for the pool trek.
I demurred, I wasn’t a slave to fashion and as far as I knew the Fashion Cops didn’t have jurisdiction in this compound. I would continue to flaunt my free spirited ways and would be down to the pool in my own style, in my own good time.
The Pearl slammed the door on her way out.
A half hour later I followed, stopping rather abruptly when I realized I had forgotten to don my swim trunks under my robe. A quick return corrected that oversight and once more I was on my way.
As I wheeled south, my robe streaming out behind me, I approached Freda and Millie with their leashed pack of yapping ankle-biters. Letting go of the waist of my robe, I waved a cheery hello.
A gust of wind whipped open my robe, neatly slapping the belt into my bike chain where it immediately wrapped itself up in the rear sprocket. The resulting unexpected tension forced my considerable weight backwards on the seat, just as I hit the concrete speed bump. Up came the front, popping a wheelie that would be the envy of any stunt rider or ten-year old kid.
Careening wildly, the bike first took a sashay towards Freda and her pack, then did a 180 and headed for a terrified Millie. Finally the belt broke and the bike, me, and the tattered remains of my robe crashed down into the bordering azalea bushes.
Freda and Millie commented , “Well, I never!” trying desperately to calm their ravenous packs which were intent on leaping on me and tearing me to shreds.
The bike is none the worse for wear. It only took an hour to cut the remains of the old robe out of the sprocket and spokes. It has made an excellent cloth for buffing the car. The scratches and abrasions covering my body never became infected- must be something antiseptic in those azaleas. The Pearl was much impressed by my appearance at the pool in the new wind suit. But I’m still not giving up the wool socks and sandals.