The Caged Bird Sings a New Tune


I’ve never given anyone The Finger.

No judgement here; I know many fine folks who have and do appreciate the effectiveness of that communication icon. It’s just not my style, really. My natural reaction when something ticks me off is to run my mouth about it. My family will verify that I reign supreme when it comes to talking something to death.

There’s also that issue of what’s being said through the use of the gesture. I have to take sides with my mom on this one –it’s rude, crude and uncouth. I’d be mortified to be seen letting The Bird fly, and really, isn’t being seen the whole point? I’d no doubt negate the message by immediately apologizing for using it and feel obliged to make amends with a batch of some type of baked goods.

But after 51 years of clean, obscene gesture-free living, never nearly came to an end during my 44-mile ride this weekend. Nearly.

It wasn’t that I wanted to say what The Finger is known for saying. I simply needed a quick and effective way to communicate my feelings to the driver who felt the need to barrel by me so closely (as I hugged the right edge of the shoulder) I could have snatched the Starbucks out of his hand if he hadn’t been driving 50 mph.

Through a haze of car exhaust I saw that my natural instinct to screech “HEY! How about slowing down long enough to let the 15-ton truck in the lane next to you pass so that you can move over and not transform me into an OVERSIZED SIDE MIRROR DECAL!” would have absolutely no impact since it would never be heard.

The Finger’s ability to quickly, efficiently and clearly get a point across was obvious.

The incident was a good diversion over the next few miles as I mentally ran my mouth while I pedaled, giving that guy what for, verbally pecking him until he begged to make things right by promising to make sure I reached my fundraising goal…plus 25 percent.

I was snapped out of that little fantasy near the end of the ride when lightning – or in this case, a speeding and space-invading car — nearly struck twice. Another Indy car wannabe zipped by so fast and close it blew-dried my sweat-drenched body like a high-powered hand dryer.

Naturally it was enough to launch the chatter but this time I directed it to Someone Else. “Lord, keep me safe. Lord, keep me safe. Lord, keep me safe…” was my mantra as I pedaled my way to the sidewalk section of the road (which happened to be at the base of my inaugural Holy Crap hill, requiring a change in prayer to “Lord, make me strong, Lord, make me strong.”).

Believe it or not I’m not a total idiot about where and when to hit the road; that’s why you’ll see me hauling it at 6:30 Saturday morning to avoid early morning commuters who obviously can’t wait to get to jobs they love, based on the way they drive. That approach works better some days than others.

Since I have no plans to move to car-free Mackinac Island (though summers there would be lovely, wouldn’t they?) I’ll do my part to be safe by staying clear of the main drags and riding with a mix of alert, yet wary, awareness, hoping drivers are doing the same.

And when they’re not? Instead of opening the cage door and letting The Bird fly, I’ll do what I do best and get all chatty, remembering that if it’s directed to the Right Person, there’s a promise that it’s always heard.

I’m riding as a member of the US Playing Card’s Team Bicycle in the Ohio – Bike MS: Venture the Valley 2011. I’ll be covering 150 miles on Aug. 27-28, a challenge for this middle-aged madre on her mountain bike. But it’s nothing compared to the challenge of living with Multiple Sclerosis, something my life-long friend Beth Reynolds Haueter does with tremendous strength and grace.

The time is ticking away on my training and fundraising clock. I’m working on planting butt-to-seat and logging the miles. You can help me meet my fundraising goal by stopping by my Bike MS page. Beth and I, along with thousands of other good folks, would be forever grateful if you left your monetary mark.



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3 Responses to “The Caged Bird Sings a New Tune”

  1. Becky says:


    As always you made me chuckle and nod my head in agreement. You really are a treasure. BTW, I’ve never given anyone the finger, either, it is so crass and low-brow. So, good for you and your spotless record of obscene gesture-free living along with your wonderful faith! XO

  2. Janice Crago says:

    Yet one more example of our sisterhood (and I’m not even a Chi-O).

  3. Jerry Nerl says:

    Classy as always. Some people have no class or consideration.

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