When I was in college, I had a friend named Todd Schlenke. He was a senior when I was a freshman, but for whatever reason, we seemed to get along like we were long-time friends...even though we were only in each other's lives for about a year.
One of the things that would crack me up about Schlenke was that he would, at random times, shout out SERENDIPITY, BABY! SERENDIPITY!...even when something was not presently serendipitous. In fact, I'm not exactly sure he knew what the word meant.
We would walk into a party: SERENDIPITY, BABY. SERENDIPITY!
We would go get an El Borracho burrito from Pancho's (the best burrito in the world, by the way): SERENDIPITY, BABY! SERENDIPITY!
We would egg a local fraternity on Easter: HAPPY EASTER, ACACIA...NOW SUCK IT!!! SERENDIPITY, BABY! SERENDIPITY!
And wouldn't you know it...his little mantra has always stuck with me...even at the most precarious times.
I have had a tough time trying to get a bike ride in, recently. A few weeks ago, about ten miles into a sixty-mile ride, my tube not only went flat, but a hole (better yet, a GASH) was somehow punctured into my actual tire. I rode back to my car with a five-dollar bill jimmied in between my tube and the tire (Still a GREAT idea, Ryan) in an attempt to not get another flat with the tube so majorly exposed.
On the way back to my car...my tube went flat again, and luckily my riding mate let me use one of his.
I never wanted THAT to happen again.
The following week I was deathly ill with an upper respiratory track infection (A URI not a UTI, FYI), and missed another chance at a long bike ride.
And wouldn't you know it...right in the midst of being sick, I went out of town on a cruise, and had no real chance to do any endurance training at all. I ran on the ship, and did a spin class..but nothing that would ultimately keep my stamina up.
I got back from my cruise this morning, and was ITCHING (ha!) to get in a long bike ride NO MATTER WHAT. NOTHING was going to stand in my way.
I wanted to do about forty miles to get my legs back into it. As I was getting my stuff together at my car, I looked at the extra tire I had purchased (SO SMART, I AM)...and thought about being stuck in the middle of a long ride with ANOTHER tire problem...so I spent a good ten minutes trying to release the tire from its packaging sans scissors. I pulled, I bit, I tugged, I keyed...nothing worked. Ten minutes gone. Just gone. I threw the tire back into my car (SO SMART)...and figured I would risk it...and who cared about those ten minutes, anyway...I had TONS of time.
For as long as I can remember, I have been deathly allergic to peanuts....just one tiny morsel sends me into the grips of anaphylaxis and an immediate trip to the emergency room is a MUST. I know what it means to be on death's door...in the middle of nowhere...my throat slowly closing up.
I went out on my ride...and tried to take a slightly different route than I usually take. I got a little lost...about fifteen or so minutes out of my way....with an added GIGANTIC hill, too. Really, this extra fifteen minutes didn't really bother me at the time. I even thought: That's almost thirty minutes of time just ZAPPED out of my day. Weird. Ah well...at least I am getting this ride in, FINALLY!
About six weeks ago, when I went on a ride with Ryan...he had some strange allergic reaction and broke out in a pretty severe rash. I ALWAYS carry Benadryl with me...so I gave it to him. I remember thinking to myself: Why do I even bother carrying Benadryl, anyway...it's not like I am going to eat peanuts while I am riding...
When I ride during week days, I never wear a biking jersey. Seems like too much of a hassle to me for some reason. I just wear a normal t-shirt...but because I hadn't been riding in so long, I really wanted to have the full riding experience...I wore a biking jersey today...and only zipped it half-way up...so I could really feel the wind. I wanted to feel the rush of air as I got back into the swing of things. I am really looking forward to this I thought as I smiled and walked towards the door.
And wouldn't you know it...
A randomly worn jersey...zipped only half way
Time taken to unsuccessfully release an extra tire because of a peculiar puncture the last time I went riding two weeks ago
Compounded with the time of my misdirected route and hill...
I feel a jolt of pain...on my stomach. I look to see if I somehow had a piece of fabric poking me as the pain intensifies. I pull over and lift up my shirt...and there it is...crawling on my stomach of all places. A bee, dancing around his stinger that was squarely pulsating in my flesh.
So, I did what any man would do in this situation. I SCREAMED LIKE A LITTLE GIRL...and swiped at the bee with the back of my hand as I did what I can only imagine looked like an "EWWWWWWWWWWWWW...THE NASTY LITTLE CREEPY CRAWLY TOUCHED ME" Dance.
I flicked at and subsequently plucked out the stinger. It looked like a funnel with a small, slightly curved claw at the end. I stared at it for what seemed like forever until a thought started crawling in my mind like the bee who had just been crawling on my stomach:
What if I am allergic to bees like I am to peanuts? No worries, I'll just take some Benadryl. I ALWAYS have Benadryl with me!
I go to my bike pouch: Empty. Oh yeah...I gave that to Ryan.
I look up the road to the north. No one is there.
I look to the south. No one is around.
I call Tauni. No answer.
I call again. No answer.
I take off my helmet. I sit down. I unvelcro my gloves. I remove my sunglasses.
I resign myself to something. Fate? Pain? An eerie acceptance is all over me. I think about what it will feel like to suffocate to death...and contemplate dialing 911. But I don't. I just sit there and look up into the clouds that are filling the sky.
As I wait...I notice something. It doesn't hurt. It isn't even itching. I expected major swelling. Hives. Vomiting. Shortness of breath. I know this drill. I have been there before...
But none of these happened. I was...absolutely fine.
I finally get a hold of Tauni...and she comes to get me. And as I waited for her...a thought flung into my head...and it made me LAUGH out loud:
I am one lucky son of a bitch. I am NOT allergic to bee stings.
SERENDIPITY, BABY. SERENDIPITY!!!