The Notched Wing

Helen Tara Hughes – Poetry, Fiction, Film, Phantasms

The Seven Stages of Bike Theft Grief

The last weekend of summer in Toronto, and the trees are beginning to turn in the balmy air.
Not too hot, not too cool. Becalmed.
The whir of bikes in the quiet street.

A remix of Nina Simone’s “See-line Woman” playing in the background, and wild Ontario blueberries in a jam jar with cream. They taste like the colour blue, somehow – warm on the tongue, lasting in their flavour.

A fine remedy against the bike thieves who have stolen our means of transportation in the last two days – mine while I was in an audition, the Tattoo’d Chef’s while he was slaving over a hot stove. We aren’t alone – cut locks dangle from posts all over the city. Rabid thieving, unseen but certainly felt.

“Am I dreaming??” I think, staring at the empty bike post. “Don’t I have a bike?”

My girlfriend says, simply, “Awwww – your number was up!” I think I’ve been officially initiated as a cyclist in Toronto, with one stolen gone lost much-dreamed-of-but-never-seen-again bike in my past.

I am “Eingebaut”, broken into life in Toronto.

The 7 Stages of Bike Theft Grief are:

1. Disbelief (“Am I dreaming? This is a bad dream…”)

2. Surrender (“Oh well -shrug- whaddyya gonna do?”)

3. Anger (“If I see someone on my bike, I’m gonna *&!#*…”)

4. Paranoia (“Hey! is that guy riding my bike??”)

5. Frustration (“How did I ever walk? I’m BORED…”drag, shuffle, plod)

and the penultimate, most violent phase:

6. Vigilanteism (“Let’s invent key-chain activated spikes that spring through the handles of the stolen bike, crucifying the Thief in a most Biblical fashion! Let’s invent a lock which sprays foul-smelling black ink in a 4 foot radius the moment the lock is cut”…etc etc ad nauseum)

*Note: If you are having difficulty navigating this 6th phase without engaging in rash or violent actions, beg/borrow/buy – please don’t steal – another bike as soon as possible. You’ll soon forget about those dirty teeves, because this bike is instantly gratifying. You are going places, doing things, faster and faster than walking and Damn! Suddenly, you just don’t have time for Revenge.

You will find yourself whipping through an alley with the wind in your hair, rejoicing in the 7th stage of bike theft grief:

7. Resurgence.

Riding a brand new comfy bike helps to erase the feeling one has of being ROBBED, of having a part of yourself missing, amputated, unkindly ripped from the fabric of daily existence.

My new bike is pretty and girly and blue. It has a NewYork Kryptonite lock that weighs as much as my head, and big macho tires that come up to my hips.

And if I’m dreaming – “Hey…where those other bikes ever my bike?” – then why do these blueberries taste so good?

Nature, Flavour, and the Present Moment. The best remedies for a Zen whack of this kind.

Author: smallboy

Helen Tara Hughes is a writer, producer and actor. An award-winning theatre performer, she cut her teeth in classical and new work at major theatres across Canada, including the Stratford Festival. Her first taste of documentary work – a POV radio documentary for CBC’s ‘Outfront’ – gave her the documentary bug, and in 2009 she transitioned into Producing with the feature documentary, Goodness in Rwanda. As a writer, she has been published by Backofthebook.ca, Eros Digest, and TWISI, and has a book of short stories that will be published in the fall of 2012. As a filmmaker, she creates short films based on poetic writing. She moonlights as an Asst Producer and Coordinator for documentary, factual, and independent films, and is developing a slate of her own media projects for 2013.

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