Thursday, November 1, 2007

Biking fish

So we've all heard this one, right?

A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle
-Irina Dunn*, 1970

This phrase has been a part of my consciousness for a long, long time. For me, it distills the essence of the late 60s-early 70's, when female-kind first started down the path from "Gotta Get Me a Man" to "F--k All Y'all" to "Chrissakes, Aren't We There Yet?!?"

Believe it or not, back in the day the whole notion was novel, intriguing, and subversive -- especially to young girls (I was 10 in 1970) -- this radical concept that we could be good enough and strong enough all on our own. X-treme, in fact, for girls raised on Cinderella, Snow White, and the original Mystery Date.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Nice history lesson, Grandma. But so what?

Today I stumbled across this lovely blog. Lovely writing, and c'mon, who can resist that logo? But it was her "About Me" that got me thinking.

What about my fish**? My fish likes bicycles. I don't think my fish needs a bicycle. Does it follow that my fish should feel guilty for wanting a bicycle? Should my fish never have a bicycle ever ever again?


On the one hand, my fish relied pretty heavily -- more than I would consider optimal -- on a nice, sturdy bike for a long, long time. And even enjoyed it some of the time. It was a perfectly fine bike although it never did fit quite right***.

On the other hand, my fish was then presented the opportunity to learn to live happily sans bicyclette for the first time ever. Fantastic opportunity, that. Nothing to sneeze at.

But... all of a sudden (poof!) there appeared this really nice, shiny, high-tech bicycle. My fish liked it a lot and couldn't resist the chance to give it a go.

Well, let me tell you. It's not easy to learn to handle a new bicycle after riding the same bike for nearly 30 years. Lots of work, some spills, fair amount of fear and uncertainty, and always in the back of the fish's very small brain there's this annoying, thin little reedy, whiny voice going 'But, but, you said you didn't need a bike! I don't think this is a good idea....'

You know what? My fish really likes the bicycle enough to take the risk, even though it's scary and frustrating to learn to ride again, and it definitely would be easier not to have to deal with the new, super-complicated operating instructions.

And who knows? With the passage of time, this particular fish might end up needing this particular bicycle after all.

*I learned a new thing today! Here's the origin of the phrase. Who knew?

**It is all about me (and my fish). Just ask my pal Peggy.

***Ouch! That's going to leave a mark.

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