It had been an easy day, but it was getting to the hard part of the day.
The easy part was the 30-mile bike ride and the burrito. The easier part was killing time until the hard part, and I killed it well.
I killed that time like a pro, or rather like a little kid. I went to a park and laid down in the grass. You can do that in California because you won’t be lying down in a nest of fire ants, and wake up with your nuts chewed off.
I looked at the clouds; everything looked like a big, white diaper, giant Pampers floating across the sky. Some were bulging at the edges, and we all know what that means.
I laid in the grass so long that my legs and arms and neck got crazy-quilt imprints from the blades.
There were kids at the park. Most of them were playing lacrosse, something I don’t even know what that is. Others were playing soccer, which is exactly like lacrosse in its mysteriousness.
One sad boy was being “coached” on an empty diamond by his dad as the little tyke unhappily swung at and missed every single pitch. Dad scolded and showed massive disapproval that HIS SON couldn’t hit a baseball. That fatherly anger and disapproval at a little kid, well, that kid was gonna be carrying it around for the rest of his life.
You can be sure of that.
The hard part of my day rolled around, which involved pizza. Giant Bicycles had sponsored a thank-you dinner for all the volunteers and recipients of the Nosco Ride at their headquarters. I wasn’t a volunteer or a recipient, I was an officially designated freeloader.
I saw a bunch of old friends and some new ones, too. One of them was Johnny Walsh, who has been through the wringer. Ever since James Doyle intentionally took him out in a bike race a few years ago, Johnny’s been recovering. His injuries were bad. Some permanent.
But the thing that wasn’t injured at all was his grin. Some people, when they break, they break completely, but not Johnny Walsh. You’ll never break his smile.
We were talking with Jen Audia, a badass cyclocross racer in her own right. We were talking about hard things in life and also about useless things in life, things that we carry around and don’t know why.
“Those things,” Johnny said, “are like a dirty diaper.”
I looked at him.
“Yeah,” he said. “You’re just carrying around a big, stinking, dirty diaper. What the hell for? Why don’t you just set it down? Haven’t you carried it around long enough?”
He was talking in his friendly way, like he always does, but he was talking to me. He was talking to you.
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