“The Village Bakery” -restaurantjump.com
Hanna and I were finishing up an afternoon ride when we popped into a cafe for a pair of lattes. We leaned our bikes against a wall and I sat down at an outside table as Hanna fished around in her bike bag for a mask.
There was an older man sitting at an adjacent table wearing a one-piece Castelli speed suit. He was in his mid-70s, portly but not rotund. Sporting a day or so worth of snow-white stubble, he glanced over at us and asked how many “kilos” we had set out to ride today.
Caught off-guard by the unexpected conversation and unit of measurement, I asked the man to repeat himself, parsing through his New Zealand accent to catch the words I had missed the first time around. Yes, he really had said kilos.
I didn’t even attempt the conversion. He didn’t seem offended. Instead he looked up at Hanna, pulled a wad of cash from his pocket and asked if she could get him a latte too, when she went in to get ours. He’d forgotten his mask, he explained. Hanna started for the door, then doubled back. Did he want his latte with regular milk, whole milk, or anything special? Just milk, he replied, from a cow.
As Hanna went into the cafe, this man and I started talking. He told me he was here visiting his daughter, and that he was living in Mexico with his girlfriend and her daughter. I learned that the three of them had just finished up a brief trip to the Grand Canyon. He was living in Mexico to oversee an unspecified business venture with his son, which, apparently, had ‘gone soft’.
He talked about how excited he was to see his grandkids, having not seen them for two years. Hanna came out with the coffees. The man began telling us the story of how he bought his bike, and lamented how heavy it was. His phone range, presumably his daughter calling. He ignored it and continued his story. He told us how he couldn’t bring his bike from Mexico because the only way to get into the U.S. was to fly. The bike he was riding was the last one in his size that the local shop had. Hanna and I didn’t particularly care.
He asked what we did, and Hanna replied that we both worked in government. He asked if we wrote laws. I replied that we didn’t really. It didn’t matter because he was just setting up for a joke. Hanna and I, of course, didn’t realize this, but you all have the benefit of knowing what we did not.
Do you know the difference between ‘unlawful’ and ‘illegal’? he asked.
I thought about it, and nothing obvious came to mind. I said no.
One is doing something that’s against the law and one is a sick bird.
I had to have him repeat the punchline, but it was really quite a good joke.
The man told us how he had introduced his girlfriend and her daughter to cycling. His phone rang again. He ignored it again. He told us how he had bought them bikes so the three of them could ride together. It was hard to find a bike for the daughter. He found one on Ebay, but he had to fight for it. I wasn’t sure what that meant.
As we finished our lattes, he asked if I wanted to lift his bike. Yep, it was heavy. He insisted that Hanna lift it up too. She didn’t hear him; she was busy putting her phone back in her bike bag.
He wants you to feel how heavy his bike is, I told her.
She lifted up the man’s green, aluminum bike.
Wow, it’s so heavy! she remarked.
We threw our latte cups away, and bid the man farewell. I never learned his name. I guess I was too busy leaning in to try and catch the punchline.