(Some Old) Loose Ends Heading Into Memorial Day

by Bryan

It’s been a long two weeks, as spring is finally here and with it has come the arrival of spring softball and basketball. I play in two softball leagues and the teams could not be any different. Team A has won both of its games by the “slaughter rule,” meaning we were up by at least 12 runs after five innings, while Team B has lost both by the same rule, the specifics of which I cannot recall (it’s a different league) but are, because of our amazing ineptness, fairly irrelevant.

I encountered more amazing ineptness at the Five Boro Bike Tour, an all-day cycling event that bills itself as a nice, family-fun way to see all five boroughs of the city, which is technically true, as you indeed make bikefall within the legal boundaries of each New York City borough. I’m just not sure about the “fun” part. I did the Bike Tour two years ago, and my friend Ravi and I easily finished the 42-mile course in about three hours (a relatively brisk but by no means Armstrong-ian pace) after waiting for an hour to begin the ride in Battery Park. In 2005, there were 28,000 riders. This year, there were 42,000 riders. There were several delays – two of which lasted an entire hour – and I was forced to walk my bike up the Queensboro Bridge, which is closed for the event, because of the congestion. Worse yet, one of my two riding partners hit a 12-year-old boy when the boy abruptly stopped to retrieve something that had fallen off his bike; my friend ran over the light, or screw, whatever, and had finished looking up from his back tire when he hit the kid, full-speed. Everyone was alright, but my friend’s bike was broken, though he gamely got it fixed further down the route and accompanied us to Staten Island, and enjoyed a beer with us on the ferry back to Manhattan as we learned that Roger Clemens would once again be pitching for the Yankees. I’ll always remember where I was – but not because of you, Roger.

I can also honestly say that I no longer hate my apartment. We had the first of what will most likely be several barbecues on our back porch on Saturday, and despite a small instance of making a fool of myself later in the evening, it was a smashing success. One of our best friends is from North Carolina and is an expert at Actual Barbecue. Another southern friend would not allow us to call our event a BBQ if we were just cooking burgers and hot dogs, and she was insistent that we use the term “grilling” to describe our festivities if we proceeded thusly. Well, we had our barbecue, and it was fantastic. We had music, great food and were able to continue the party going late into the evening because neither of our upstairs neighbors were home.

Book recommendation: I just finished Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals, her 745-page biography of Lincoln and his cabinet. If you’re into that type of book, it is certainly worth the time. There’s so much in there that I wouldn’t want to ruin for any potential reader, so I won’t discuss it, but I will say that I actually cried when Lincoln was assassinated – and, amazingly, I knew this beforehand. The book is that powerful.