Proteins, lactic acid, blood, hormones, and fear all had their own parts to play in Stanford's pose. He was not a young man anymore, and it showed in his body. He no longer had a young man's lanky frame, or a young man's bristling confidence. He was approaching the first triad of his 40s, and he was single. Of course, he had had women. And they had had him. But he was nearing an age where expectation was the consistent third wheel of his dates. Just 5 days ago, he had gone to Ruby Tuesday's with a 39 year old lawyer named Emily. He had asked her how her day had been. He had also asked about her school years, her law school years, and the years after. But the topic was uncomfortably hard to sum up, so they eventually landed on movies. Movies were always comfortable. When discussing movies you were well versed in the canon instead of too old, or up-to-speed with contemporary film instead of too young. He had discovered this neutral ground on a date several years before, with a woman of 47. She had explained the idea to him and he had thought it very reasonable. He had thought she was a reasonable, sensible, beautiful woman. But she had not been interested in a second date.On his date with Emily, Stanford had looked at her freckles and wondered if he could/should become involved with a woman with freckles. He was afraid it would become an excuse for him to find her unattractive. He needed to have absolutely no excuses; he needed a woman so utterly stunning that he would laugh if he ever tried to convince himself that he was losing interest. He wondered if he would love freckles in his children. Early on it would probably be endearing. But he really wasn't a man who enjoyed freckles. Once he finished this thought, he discreetly, but viscerally, became less engaged in the conversation, and effectively ended the evening.Now here he was, at his friend Tom's house, Tom with his 2 children and his Greek wife. Like many in California, they had a pool and liked to have pool parties. Stanford liked pool parties because he was able to show off his body. He invested a significant portion of his time in his body and longed for opportunities to see returns. He almost died when a cute brunette named Theresa asked him if she could take his picture. He thought it was for her personal photo library. He thought maybe she had spotted him across the party and thought 'Now there's a man who knows a thing or two. Not one of these fresh-out-of-college ignorant pretty boys, but a real man.' He thought she may have even been a little excited by the site of him in his bathing suit. Maybe, just maybe, he could sneak into the house with her and..."Stanford! Stanford, I'm so glad you'll be in our album!" Tom ran over and stood next to Theresa holding the camera. So she was just a professional photographer. And it was just a party album, with all the kids and couples. The games of Marco Polo. The barbecue burgers being passed out to guests. If that was the case, nothing to do but flex the muscles in his chest, put his left foot slightly in front of the right (he felt it made him look less formal), and try to look bristlingly confident. As Theresa counted down, Stanford thought he saw one of the guests point at him. The whole group erupted into restrained laughter, subsided, and moved on to a different topic. By the time he looked back at Theresa, she had finished the shot and moved towards the pool to get some shots of the children diving off the diving board. Stanford wandered over towards the grill, hoping for a cheeseburger.
I always park my bicycle in the shade. There are few things more unpleasant than sitting down on a roasting bicycle seat. I pick lush trees for shade, trees made for cover. It is no great kindness towards my bicycle, however. I neglect it in all other possible ways. Its tires are near-empty, its breakpads worn, its paint half-flaked. I just don't like burning my ass when I ride around town.
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