Everybody has a dark side

I am not a fancy person.

I don’t wear much jewelry other than my watch and a plain gold wedding ring. I loathe make-up, mostly because it’s never going to stay in the spot that I applied it. I don’t get my hair or nails done due to the violently creeped-out feeling I get from having strangers touch my hair or point sharp instruments at my cuticles, and I can’t help the feeling that most of the nail places are manned by beautiful young Chinese women who may have trained in those prisons where they shove bamboo under your finger nails. I don’t drive a fancy expensive car because any vehicle I drive is going to have its interior glowing an orange hue from a fine dusting of Goldfish cracker crumbs at all times.

I’m basically eight notches above Amish. Well, I love my Keurig coffee maker too much to be Amish, so I guess I’m closer to Mennonite.

One of my iron-willed standoffs is my absolute refusal to wear uncomfortable clothes in the name of fashion. Of course, my job requires my wardrobe to be functional, and by functional I mean I have to be able to move. And by able to move I mean I have to be able to drop kick someone and pin him to the floor until backup arrives, and you just shouldn’t do that in Manolos.

Our facility has had a dress code for the guards for quite some time, which is just simply a dark-colored shirt and khaki pants. Those of us in the school program were never required to participate in their costume party, but a few months ago I decided the standard uniform might be the answer to simplifying my life even more on crazy school mornings. Or maybe it’s just my fond nostalgia for all things Catholic-school.

So I invested in a few pairs of identical pants and as many clearance-rack black shirts as I could find. I did purchase a couple of navy blue shirts for the days when I’m feeling festive and my creative side just has to shine through.

Every bespectacled reference librarian, dwelling alone in the darkest recesses of the stacks, has a wild side. Some are weekend pool sharks, others are involved in adult phone chat. You know you’ve pictured that frumpy old woman who appears prairie-dog style from the shelves to shush you angrily as having a wild dominatrix side.

Sorry, dearest audience, my secret wild side involves nothing more eyebrow-raising than bicycles. No, not riding naked through the streets Lady Godiva-style. Not even creating erotic sculptures out of bicycles with a welding torch and spare parts. Just riding them. Plain and simple.

Well, as plain as a Felt S22 full carbon racing bike with bladed forks and tapered head tubes can be. The X-Wing handlebar was extra but so completely worth it. Our collection of racing bikes contains more seats than we have rear-ends in our family and puts the total insurable value of our garage as more than the value of any other room in the house. The most recent member of our Tour du France Dream Team costs more than my first car. And my second. And the down payment on my third. Combined.

The vehicle I drive would not have been my first choice in a perfect world. Face it, no one actually wants to drive a minivan, they do so because it just makes sense. In our case, making sense means the bikes fit inside the van when we travel to races so we don’t have to risk anything happening to them on the rear bike rack as we drive on an interstate highway. We actually do have a rear bike rack, we use it to strap the luggage to so the bikes don’t get scratched by an overnight bag. It also gives the kids something to hold on to when we make them ride on the bumper. I’m kidding. No, I’m not.

My students are always very shocked to find out their elderly English teacher has this crazy hobby, one obviously meant for young studly people with spiky hair and a permanent tan. I guess they don’t realize, the younger you are, the less likely you are to be able to afford a $5000 bicycle. The fact that I still run marathons is jaw-droppingly astounding, which is insulting on some level. What about my appearance screams, “I spend my evenings curled up in my chair with a cup of tea before bed?” C’mon, what do I have to do to prove I’m cool? I wore my navy blue shirt!

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