Now’s the time of year when we briefly pause from our rapacious, self-aggrandizing, endless dedication to acquiring things for ourselves and take a look around. It’s not just to see if there are thirds or fourths of turkey and dressing, or to see if we’ve left any bargain unexamined at the Target pre-Black Friday Wednesday Discount Sale on Tuesday Night.
We take a look around to give thanks.
But not me. Not today.
I ain’t thanking anybody. Been there, done that. Shouted my thanks to the skies and the Internet every year since mom told me I should be thankful, and enough’s enough. Yeah, I got a lot to be thankful for. There. Write me down as “thankful.”
This year I’m going to focus on taking thanks. “What a selfish turd,” you’re thinking. Well, yes. But hear me out.
How many times during the year does someone thank you, and all you do is give them a perfunctory nod? Or say, “Sure, dude.” Or worst of all, say “No, thank YOU,” effectively tossing their gratitude back in their face like a smelly dishrag.
Fact is, I’ve been getting thanked all year for all kinds of shit, some of it trivial beyond belief, some of it not so trivial. But so what if it’s a big deal or a little deal? The DEAL is that whatever I did meant enough to someone for them to stop, take a breath, and utter the magic words. People almost never say that gratuitously, except, of course, on Thanksgiving.
So why didn’t I take each and every one of those thanks in the spirit it was offered? Why’m I waiting until the Day of the Great Overconsumption of Bad Food and Hard Liquor while Driving Gas-Guzzling Cars to Overpriced Discount Sales for Shit We Don’t Really Want or Need to think seriously about all of my good fortune in 2012?
Because I’m a sheep who does what he’s told.
Not this year, though. This year I’m taking thanks. More specifically, I’m taking thanks related to cycling. I can’t take them all; there’ve been too many. But I’m going to take a handful of those thanks and give them what they deserve in the same spirit they were offered: With humility and appreciation.
Okay, the humility is a work in progress. But the biggest drunkathon begins with a single shot, right?
You’re welcome, wankers
Several people have thanked me this year for blogging. You’re welcome, wankers. It’s a selfish endeavor, as I love to do it. But you know what makes me do it? You, the four or five people who occasionally read what I write and who chuckle or snarl or roll your eyes or even choke up a little. You took a minute out of your life to read, and another minute to say thanks. You’re not just welcome, you’re more welcome than you’ll ever know.
An NPR wanker thanked me earlier this year for yelling at him, and for following it up with a terse explanation of what “If you’re second wheel, pull the hell through, dammit!” means, and why.
You’re welcome for the tongue lashing, wanker. Unlike 99.9% of the rest of humanity, you didn’t take personal offense at the public beatdown (which you would have been justified in doing), you didn’t call me an ass and tell me to shut up (appropriate responses, both), and you didn’t go home and pout (lame, but what so many grown up people usually do).
Instead, you reached out on FB to find out what it was I was all upset about. Wanker, your maturity and calm and decency made me feel like a tool, and made me grateful that you’d accepted my idiosyncratic hollering for what it is: All bark, no bite, and a sincere desire to keep the sharp end of the stick safe and fast. You gave me a lesson while taking a lesson, and you thanked me in the process. You’re welcome, wanker, in the most profound way I know how to say it.
An NPR wanker thanked me last week for giving her a couple of pushes up Pershing, pushes that allowed her to hang onto the foaming, stampeding herd of idiots.
You’re welcome, wanker. You’re welcome because I never used to push anybody, ever. When I saw people coming apart at the seams I’d always shrug and say, “Welcome to hell, wanker,” as they spiraled off the back in defeat and despair.
But you know what? Suze Sonye started giving me little boosts on the Donut after hard efforts, and Rahsaan started giving me power shoves on the NPR when I was unraveling, and Greg Leibert did, too, and so did Harold Martinez. I never thanked any of them, wanker, but I remember each one of those pushes, where they happened, and how I felt.
I never thanked them, wanker, but I got the message: Don’t be too fucking proud and tough to lend a hand. So instead of thanking them, wanker, I reached out and pushed YOU. Granted, these spindly little arms don’t push like a Harold Martinez or a Dave Jaeger or a Rahsaan or a Suze, but sometimes that little push is the difference between on the back and OTB.
So, wanker, you’re welcome for those pushes, as long as you understand they came to you in a roundabout way from Suze, and although I can’t take credit for them, I can sure say “You’re welcome.”
Finally, a couple of South Bay wankers thanked me for some socks I sent their way. “Thanks for the socks, WM!” they said. “These are rad!”
You’re welcome, wankers.
But did you know that I’ve been stuck in the cave on and off this year? And did you know that when things were looking pretty black, you were saying something silly, or stomping on my dick, or pretending to listen to me blabber, or slurping lard with me at The Habit, or sending me a happy text with some goofy emoticon, or just sending out vibes of love through the ether, vibes that I somehow fricking received?
Did you know that thanks to you, wankers, there’ve been days where I’ve been able to wrap my fists pretty tightly around the edges and hold on like a never-say-die bastard?
And did you know that the reason I ever got those socks in the first place is because a wanker from Bakersfield came down to visit one Saturday and passed them on to me out of nothing but friendship? That in addition to a lot of road scum, dirty toenail grime, and a slightly gamey smell even after four washes and a bucket of bleach, there’s a circle of love in those pink garish unicorns?
From my vantage point, those socks were a pretty small symbol of appreciation for what you’ve done for me.
So you’re welcome, wankers, all of you.
And all that those words imply.