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bike racks and other marital traps

There are things in life that I try to avoid because of how much tension they cause between me and Tom. For instance, H&M t-shirts. Tom insists on hang-drying his so they don’t shrink, but sometimes I forget and put them in the dryer along with every other piece of clothing I wash, and then he gets really mad. I’m sorry that I ruined your shirt, Tom. Luckily, it cost $4.99 and there are another 3,000 of them at the Lloyd Center H&M.

Or how about grilling, at parties. I don’t enjoy throwing parties at which meats must be grilled, because Tom gets really tense if anyone even approaches the grill while he’s at work. When that happens, he gets a weird performance anxiety, and then we usually end up with under/overcooked meats. Our grill (a “Charbroiler”) is a true POS so it’s not really Tom’s fault—one side of the grill has never worked, and the starter is broken so you have to light the whole thing by turning on the gas and throwing a flaming paper towel into it from a safe distance and hoping for the best, and it’s just…not a good scene.

But listen, I have a vested interest in the outcome of the grilling. I’ve planned the menu and cooked the sides, and I’ve procured and marinated the very expensive cut of meat. So I can never help reminding Tom not to overcook the meat, which sounds to my ears like a friendly “Tom please don’t overcook the meat” but apparently sounds to Tom’s ears like a mocking “Tom, your penis is so very tiny.” Now that I think of it, it’s not just Tom. Most men I know are extraordinarily sensitive about grilling. My friend Ethan has an outdoor turkey fryer and when we do Practice Thanksgiving we all just watch him from inside the house, nursing our beers, because he’s super sensitive about being second-guessed on his frying time.

Grilling, however, is nothing compared to the marital stress bomb that is our bike rack. If you’ve read this blog for a while, you have witnessed my evolution from bike-hater to bike-rider. While we’ve had our bike rack for a while, this is the first year that all four of us have bikes. In advance of our first summer trip to Central Oregon, I took our bike rack, which has a 1.25″ fitter, to get it fitted to our new 2″ hitch. “Are you sure that’s going to stay on?,” I asked, as the employee affixed the rack to the hitch with a single, puny screw. He had his face turned toward the car so I can’t be sure, but I’m pretty sure I heard him roll his eyes. “Yep,” he said, grabbing the rack and pressing down on it for good measure. It seemed steady, but then again, he was a small guy. “Ok. But I have four bikes,” I said, nervously, leaving out the fact that Tate’s bike didn’t have pedals and weighed about 4 pounds. “Well, good thing about this here rack is that it’s made for four bikes,” he said. I narrowed my eyes, sensing sarcasm. “Anyway, it can hold up to 200 pounds,” he said. I perked up. 200 pounds! That was a lot. And this guy knew bike racks. He worked at a bike rack store, after all. I left feeling reasonably assured.

But then Tom loaded the bikes on the rack. And while I trust my husband, I didn’t feel good about how the whole rig looked. Worse, I had no experience with bike racks, so I didn’t know if all loaded bike racks looked so terrifying. But wait a second, this is why Facebook was invented, right? I snapped the photo below and posted it to my wall, asking whether the rack looked normal. I sat back, and awaited the reassuring commentary.
The first comment came in, from my friend Tim. “NO WAY THAT’S STAYING ON.” Well. Alarming, certainly. But if I had to name one person I knew who seemed less outdoorsy than me, I would have chosen Tim, maybe after my Mom. It’s not like I’d ever seen a bike rack on his Boxer. So I ignored Tim and waited for other comments. More comments came in. Becky asked if that was a basket on one of the bikes. What did that matter?? Patrick commented that his bike rack had once fallen off on I-405. By this time we were on I-405, and I could see the bikes bouncing up and down through my rearview mirror. I looked on FB again. Ethan had commented. “DUDE.”

Fuck. Ethan is pretty outdoorsy, and grew up in Denver. More importantly, Ethan spends a lot of his free time on the Internet and has a lot of useless knowledge about random things. So I dialed Ethan from the car’s Bluetooth. “Does it really look bad?,” I asked. Tom sat next to me, fuming. The boys sat behind us, sensing drama. As for Ethan, he had no idea that he was on speaker, or that Tom could hear the conversation. “Well, I mean, why are the bikes sitting so far away from the car?,” Ethan asked. What did he mean? I hadn’t even thought about THAT. I had only worried that the bikes would fall off. Now I pictured them tipping my car over. I started to ask Ethan follow-up questions but then noticed Tom’s arm, gripping the console in rage. “Ha ha, it’s all good, Ethan,” I said. “I mean…” Ethan continued. Then I hung up on him.

“I’m sure it’s fine,” I muttered to myself. And it was fine. The bikes bounced a lot but made it all the way to Sisters. And back. And hopefully they will make it all the way to Bend next week, and back from Bend. I assume they will. Because Tom says they will. And like a ringer, Tom tends to be right when it matters.


26 Comments Post a comment
  1. Did you know you are a recommended blog in the family category on the WordPress reader? I am not sure if they notify you when that happens. but that is pretty dang cool and you are so deserving! I am in the midst of a Summer Reading Challenge and am quite happy to have landed here. You see, the bike rack is also a trap in our family. I know that when we are going on a ride, I should load the kids in the car, lock the doors and turn on the music to drown out the sounds of his F Bombs. If I had a dollar for every time he called my bike a bitch, I’d be rich! I also know to steer clear when he is assembling children’s toys – he definitely does not like help deciphering the instructions. 🙂 Great post!

    June 29, 2013
    • Thanks for letting me know about the WordPress thing; other commenters have mentioned but I had no idea what they were referring to. And very funny that your guy calls your bike a bitch

      June 29, 2013
  2. I love this entry! I’m glad my husbands not the only one!!

    June 25, 2013
    • If this blog has had any positive effect on my marriage, it’s that it has assured me that Tom is not unique in even his most aggravating tendencies

      June 25, 2013
  3. Andy M #

    Why is it that I always get the faintest whiff of condescension from the bike store people? Yes, my questions are stupid (“so, like, these are the handlebars, right?”), and I know you’re only there for the employee discount, but like be nice because my ignorance is the mortar that secures your employment.

    I am also a total bike noob. My dad gave me a bike and I just started biking to work, which is great except I don’t know how to do anything but pedal. Changing gears, general maintenance, etc is a complete mystery. I actually crashed my bike on purpose into one of those places where they rent bikes to tourists, so that someone would take pity on me and inflate my tires.

    Why does everything bike-related require a PhD in Ruggedness Studies from REI University (and like $234349834 in equipment from said University store)? I’m kind of prissy, and really like things to be easy, but I’m pretty sure you can only fake-crash into someone so many times before they start catching on.

    June 25, 2013
    • For me it’s more like a gale force wind of condescension, not a slight whiff. They are like dogs and are trained to smell fear. My tire keeps making a funny noise whenever I ride–I must now find a bike shop to crash into

      June 25, 2013
  4. We Central Oregonians over her give cars with bikes racks very wide berths….*Chuckle*…have fun while you’re over here.

    June 24, 2013
    • LOVE central oregon. jealous that you get to live there

      June 25, 2013
  5. You are so funny!

    June 24, 2013
  6. Oh my, those bikes do look scary! But, I’m no expert, and they made it so success! Surprisingly, Ryan is touchy about how I fold clothes, but I have adapted. But Ryan knows not to mess with me in the kitchen. Lol.

    June 24, 2013
    • certainly if they make it once, they will make it again. i wish tom would mess with me in the kitchen. he avoids it entirely except for the ice cream drawer

      June 25, 2013
  7. geauxgumbo #

    I have a super dry sense of humor and to make me laugh out loud is doing a rare thing, I have to say congrats because I did laugh out loud reading about Tom’s grilling, I can completely relate, my wife also tries to be helpful by saying something and instead my brain processes her helpful suggestion into an insult against me and my place in the realm of humanity. LOL, good job.

    June 24, 2013
    • thanks. i’m trying to convince myself that grilling is overrated. who can’t enjoy a nice summertime braise?

      June 25, 2013
  8. what’s practice thanksgiving?

    June 24, 2013
    • ah, practice thanksgiving. the thanksgiving you spend with your friends, before spending real thanksgiving with your family. a tradition from law school

      June 25, 2013
      • that sounds like so much fun!

        June 25, 2013
      • Ha, I think we should “practice thanksgiving” before the in-law Thanksgiving. There is always some kind of drama that I’m sure my girlfriends would be able to predict, and clear up prior to it happening… if only we re-enacted it before it happened instead of after. Perhaps a new experiment for this years festivities.

        June 28, 2013
      • you should definitely do it. At the very least you get two opportunities to eat stuffing

        June 29, 2013
  9. Cloie #

    We have also become a bike family recently. I even started riding to work. Crazy! I just had a hitch installed today, and then we’re on to choosing the bike rack which seems to be just about the hardest thing in the world. Did you like the place you got yours? Even though if the guy rolled his eyes.

    Luckily I am taking the first trip with our bikes without my husband because I do not think we could survive the 2 hour drive to the beach. Partly because I drive wherever we go and I know I’ll be watching those bikes in the rear view which would drive him crazy. And if I lose bikes along the way, I would rather deal with it on my own. Sad huh? But I think it’s good to know our marital strengths and weaknesses.

    June 24, 2013
    • Yes. Exactly. I always drive too because I get carsick. I love Re-Rack. They have used gear and will install, and are super friendly. We bought our ski rack there too. You can negotiate some prices.

      June 24, 2013
  10. I always get carsick when we drive with the bike rack because I spend the whole trip looking in the mirror at our bouncing bikes terrified they will fall off on the freeway… Have fun in Bend!

    June 24, 2013
    • Eventually I stopped looking because it felt better to pretend they weren’t there. It worked!!

      June 24, 2013
  11. Maura McCann #

    When Andrew and I have to put up a tent i wish I had a divorce lawyer on speed dial. We have to do a bike rack at the end of the week. i will be thinking of you and laughing! Plus it goes to Camp Sherman from Seattle!!

    June 24, 2013
    • ah, tents. I’m sure you never pitch one as the light is fading. That always adds a scary touch that heightens the drama

      June 24, 2013

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