Monday, July 26, 2010

Walks With Crocs

I took a seat on a bench next to a pair of German tourists and took in the spectacle of Bend's newest arrival. Oregon has a reputation as a wet place to live however someone should have warned Bobskoot that Central Oregon is more desert than the better known parts of coastal Oregon."Been raining has it?" I asked the intrepid travelers as they removed layer after layer of progressively wetter clothing. The gear was wet inside which was not surprising as it was over one hundred American degrees. "42! 42 degrees!" Canadian Bob kept shouting in heat induced delirium. He was referring to the temperature in Canadian money but no one down here wanted to be reminded that Canada has a booming economy and intact banking system and free health care, so everyone, even the puzzled German tourists sitting next to me ignored him.Sonja was a model of Teutonic decorum going through her disrobing in meditative silence, carefully folding and piling everything in order and modesty. Too bad some American shit came by while we were at lunch and stole her well worn riding gloves. These riders are not people to be taken aback by a minor inconvenience- they apparently travel with replacement clothing hidden under the kitchen sink on the back of their motorcycles and she whipped out a spare pair to continue their journey. I need to take some lessons in preventative packing. Bob was apparently not coping well with the heat and continued to disrobe at a frantic pace. "No Bob! Stop! Enough!" eventually he came to and stopped before we had a chance to observe his lily white hindquarters.I had never considered brown underwear but it would seem to me that as a color, it would camouflage any functional emergency while on the road. Besides I would look much more butch in a brown wife beater. I might start a fashion trend, which Bob has signally failed to do with his. One look at the handlebars of Bob's Suzuki and it was obvious what had happened to our intrepid explorers who got lost en route to our luncheon appointment. A mixture of heat and too many electrons had caused their gyro-compass to lose it's lunch. My wife in the comfort of our air conditioned Ford Fusion using only an iPhone had located the restaurant called Zydeco, with ease. This mare's nest of wiring had somehow let Bob down and left him dangling in the heat for far too long. He is very proud of his Canadian ability to afford many new toys as we hunker through our depression south of the 49th parallel. In any event we needed to revive the intrepid blogger.In the meantime my wife had been checking out the lunch venue and discovered that Zydeco was closed on Sundays so apparently her iPhone had managed to fail us too. We needed to rely on native wit at this point and she got a recommendation from a local for lunch. "That place is great but crowded, this one is okay but has no lines." We decided our priority was to get the bald pate out of the sun. Here he is coming back to life, restored by air conditioning and the prospect of a slab of dead cow on a plate. The table next to us gave no hint that their lunch had been ruined by our noisy arrival. "I'm Jewish too now!" Bob announced as he hacked off a slab and dumped it on my plate. I have long lamented my Jewish wife's propensity for sharing food, a habit Bobskoot does not apparently share either so he got into the spirit of the thing. My tuna sandwich, a modest affair of brown bread and cool delicious fish with mayonnaise attracted no takers.I had been rather nervous about meeting Sonja whose blog views life as an orderly affair of thoughtful decision making and measured comments on the world around her. It turned out in real life she is rather different which need not be a surprise of course as the Internet is a great tool for hiding truth as much as it is for the reverse. What little she wants revealed of herself can be found here: It was a brief and hurried visit in Bend which was good and bad, because first encounters are always fraught with expectations and baggage, making the second encounter, if there is one, less arduous. If Bobskoot has anything to do with it my future will be plagued by demands to visit cold wet British Columbia. He of course will be too busy making it up to his wife for going on this trip without her, by heading to the Great Wall of China and sundry places far more interesting than Key West. The diner was a hive of activity and I found the food to be entirely satisfactory. However on this occasion food was of much less moment than conversation.
The photography in this essay was a bit on the fly as there was much too much going on at our table to be thinking about the squeeze box. I find it unnerving to be in conversation with a stranger who refers back to portions of one's life that have not yet entered the conversation. I prefer generally to hang out with people who have not read my diary but Bobskoot is a truly friendly guy, outgoing empathetic and cheerful. Most unnerving. Then there is the damned pink Croc thing.
Here is the actual true story of how my pink Crocs came about. I once bought a blue pair at a Miami boat show intending to wear them as salt water proof boat shoes. I found them ugly but practical and over time they also revealed themselves to be inexpensive and comfortable. One day my wife called out to me, interrupting me being busy as I was, in my usual manly way:
"Honey, I'm going to the flea market. Do you want me to get you some new Crocs?"
"Sure, sure," I replied not listening because I was busy, as one is in a frequently manly way.
"What color do you want? You had mentioned you'd like something different..."
"Whatever, I'm busy just now." My fatal reply set in motion all that was to follow.
She returned from the Big Pine Key flea market with a pair, held them out and said sweetly:
"Do you want me to change them for a different color?"
"Hell no," I replied stoutly. "I don't give a shit." And I didn't. But as my wife likes to point out my use of the Crocs has since expanded after I found them to be useful for dog walking in water and mud. They were easy to slip on and off and they seemed indestructible. I parked them outside the front door and gradually they became my footwear of choice. My wife was persuaded by Bob to get her own pair on Bend. It's been ten days and they too are her footwear of choice now.
We went to the Dry Tortugas for a camping trip with a bunch of friends. There we met a dude from Seattle called Andy who was in the Keys for a few days, and on the way home Andy snapped a picture of my feet hanging over the end of the seat on the ferry. I was sleeping and knew nothing of his interest in my Crocs till he sent me the picture. I published it and suddenly my Crocs caught the eye of a guy in Canada. Bob's obsession with pink Crocs is nothing to do with me, I am bemused by his need to carry around a pair of rubber sandals to put on display.My shoes are made for walking and that's exactly what they do. The shoe shop also sold dog treats to benefit the local pound. Alyssha modeled them for me.
She makes you want to buy several boxes. The shoe store staff appeared as puzzled by Bob's obsession as I am. Pink Crocs for all. "I never would have imagined my husband as a fashion icon ," my wife muttered to herself as she pondered the surprising turns life takes. I am not known for my fashion sense, at least not outside portions of the Canadian steppes.
Outside Bend's Comfort Footwear store the subject of pink Crocs took second place to, of all things, the subject of single payer health care. "We're brothers," I advised the passers by who were busy staring at our feet. "Different fathers," I said and then added, "different mothers." Then Bob piped up "We pay for our health insurance in Canada too," as we Americans lamented our broken non-system. Yeah right Bob, tell that to Americans with health issues and the horror stories pour forth about denied service, massive copays and ridiculous premiums. At least we were off the subject of footwear for a while.Bob's shiny new, hardly worn Crocs, worked fine but his electrons were slip sliding away. His proper camera had a flat battery so he was reduced to using a pocket camera even smaller than my squeeze box. He pointed and shot with a will.
They went to their bikes we went to the local wine store. These guys were figuring out the meaning of life which involved Bend's glorious weather, high unemployment and excellent selection of wines. We got a bottle and drank it in Wichita, Kansas for reasons that will become apparent. Their footwear was nothing to write home about.The two adventurers climbed laboriously into their wet space suits for the ride to the hotel, we strolled back to the car. There is something to be said for cages.
And on my way back to the car I thought I saw Jack riepe immortalized in pixels.
Bob made it clear before we left he was anxious to get together and when I managed to cock up the meeting date and place and day and everything he started sending my wife frantic text messages. He wanted to spend the night together, a suggestion which which had he been from Pennsylvania would have convinced me not to drive a thousand miles out of my way for lunch and manly intercourse, so as the time drew near to part ways I wondered how we could pull out, as it were, without leaving him feeling abandoned. The opportunity presented itself when a whole group of people who ride and write blogs gathered. Trobaritz introduced himself.
Originally from Canada he has the weird taste to live in our failing economy and has the good taste to do it while riding a Triumph, with maple leaves. If I did this sort of frippery to my Bonneville I would immediately, accidentally stick a scratch in it. Looks good while it looks good though.His other half caught by me in a blinking moment is better seen on her own blog It takes many takes to get good people moments with a camera and we had no time in this encounter. We talked a lot in a short time though.
Her blog is a good place to see Richard from Anchorage with whom I had an involved enough conversation I forgot to take his picture. I got a brief glimpse of the Trobaritz's rides, the Bonneville and the TU250 by Suzuki, probably the most interesting new bike to arrive recently in the US, a land devoted to adoration of the massive.
"Your Triumph is nicer,"my wife remarked loyally but it sure does present itself as the perfect all purpose ride. 75mph, 70 mpg and something around $3000. Ride her till she drops. Ms Trobaritz, having successfully completed her first 143 mile ride left the bike at the curb and took up a rear position on the Triumph for the ride to lunch. Bob and Sonja had to shower and meet them for drinks. We had the badlands of Oregon to cross before dinner.It was suddenly easy for Bob to let go, he had lots of new/old friends to entertain and share Crocs with. We were free to go so we did, we had miles to cover and a week to get home in time for work. It looked like this for the next three days, but that is a story for tomorrow. For now it is time to mediate on the meeting with a thoroughly nice guy and a New Canadian who holds onto her European-ness with a very private, very dry sense of humor. I wonder if they will ever make it south? Bob in pink Crocs at Aqua is a tantalizing image in my mind.