That Girl

To say I'm not mechanically inclined would be understating the matter, on the order of saying that pink flamingos are not inclined to excel at the shot put.

Case in point: N. loaned me his rain jacket this summer — it's one that stashes into its own pocket and zips up neatly — and I tried for a month to figure out how to fold it back up again. I hadn't given up, but it was becoming a hobby. I finally confessed my ineptitude so N. wouldn't think I'd just left it undone from sheer laziness.

There's nothing to make a person feel more like a goof than being outsmarted by a yard and a half of nylon and a zipper. But goof or no, it's time to locate whatever molecule of mechanical sense lies within and leverage it into knowledge and confidence.

Because I truly don't want to be that girl.

I don't want to be that girl who flats her tire and stands looking wistfully up and down the road hoping another cyclist will happen by and take pity. I don't want to be the girl who flutters on the shoulder and bats her eyelashes while someone else fixes her dropped chain.

I don't want to be that girl who says, "I don't have to learn how; my husband will take care of it for me." And I confess, I was that girl today, only half joking that I'd get N. to switch out the bikes on the trainer for his helpless wife who doesn't remember how to put a bike up on the trainer properly.

This was a humiliating moment, hearing that come out of my mouth. I wavered between wanting to slink away quietly and wanting to grab something and smack myself across the top of the head.

Now, it's true that N. and I have symbiosis here. He doesn't exactly trust me not to damage moving parts. And I don't have a lot of confidence handling them. So it's the easy road for both of us for him to manage bike repairs and maintenance. (And, evidently, rain gear.)

I repeat: I don't want to be that girl. And it's a girl, an immature girl, who blithely lets others tend her belongings. It is not a powerful, resourceful woman, the woman you want on your team, at your back or leading your charge, who does this.

And this is not just a belonging: this is my BIKE. My ride. Mine to love and cherish as long as we both shall live. I don't want to be That Girl on this bike.

This is why N. came home a few weeks ago to the sight of me, tongue between teeth and brow furrowed, wrestling with my front wheel in the middle of the living room floor. I'd let the air out of the tube and was patiently following the Team Estrogen instructions to learn how to fix the flat without the use of tire levers.

And it's why when I carted my bike up from the basement tonight, I said No when he met me on the stairs to take it out of my hands and offer his assistance. And why I asked for direction but said, "No, don't touch it," when he reached down to tighten the nut on the axle support. I actually took the quick release back out of the bolt after he'd set it in, turned the bolt so the wrong notch faced up, then turned it back the right way so I'd have a fighting chance at remembering to do it next time.

These are absurdly simple things. But this is how much moving parts intimidate me. I hate being intimidated by anything. And frankly, I hope you hate it as much as I do. Something intimidating you? Come on. Let's go head on with it.

We have a rescue bike in the basement, liberated from a neighbor's sidewalk on trash day. I hope N. isn't too annoyed to come home and find it in parts one of these days soon.

But first — tomorrow — I have a rain jacket to pull out of its pocket again.