Like most women, in my laziest moments, I’ve considered it. The concept – at least in the abstract – doesn’t sound so bad, and as long as you perform your end of the bargain, there are clearly some tangible rewards to be gained. And it’s not like you’re chained, unwillingly, to something you never agreed to. The whole concept revolves around acceptance and performance.
I am, of course, referring to being a kept woman.
In actuality – my latent cougar status aside – I could probably never do it [and that's not because of any record of poor performance]. Mostly pouring money into clothes, shoes, bags, and bling are part of a past life that just doesn’t interest me.
Well, as long as said clothes, shoes, bags, and bling are not bike-able. I’ll pass up the vintage Dior for denim shorts I can bike in and a cassette shirt, Anna Sui pumps for Sidis, Loew bag for the Ortlieb, and Vivienne Westwood earrings for a bike helmet. All signs that I should probably seek immediate help for my blatant obsession. All signs that I’m totally in love with bicycles.
And that’s sort of the real reason I could never be a kept woman; in predictable cougar [cub] fashion, I’ve fallen desperately in love with two very young things. And for now, I’m the one doing the keeping.
Being poor and broke, you might wonder how I manage. It’s been no joyride, but somehow I’m cutting enough corners to make ends meet. My loves might be demanding, but I know they’re both worth it. Every single penny.
And they’ve cost me quite a few thousands of pennies, my bikes. From new freewheels to bottom brackets to bar tape to pedals, both the Dolan and Bianchi are bleeding me dry. I’m fully aware of this slow financial death, but instead of maybe streamlining my purchases to the one bike I’m riding on the street, I’m cutting fresh wounds into my bank account, almost relishing in the resulting pain [and hunger]. Because those purchases are making the bikes smoother, lighter, or just harder to pedal. And that makes me love them that much more.
But I’m fickle. So when Andy mentioned the possibility of purchasing an IF, I momentarily forgot about the two ponies already in my stable. I feigned hesitation while my mind raced, imagining paint schemes and matching bar tape and saddles. I attempted to laugh off the suggestion while imagining what tires I’d get. I actually considered it, before trying to forget about it, then thought about it again. It’s true. I’d die for an IF.
I’m fully aware of that. But sliding through afternoon NYC streets, scooting around trucks and taxis, my chain rasped noisily and I kicked myself for forgetting to grab some chain lube at the shop. And pushing the pedals a tiny bit harder, I realized that I liked my new gearing a lot; which means that the Dolan needs another cog or two. Those thoughts expanded into lists of bike parts and tools, saddles, new bar tape, and winter tires, before I finally admitted it to myself. I can hardly keep up with the demands of two bikes…how could I even think of dealing with three?
Besides, the high cost of maintenance of both of my existing bikes is probably a mixed blessing. Obsessive enough to have meltdowns when even one of my bikes doesn’t function properly, pampering three would probably result in institutionalization. Plus that all-too-familiar routine of starvation as I stretch out an already quickly-thinning budget. Something at which even bike friends have rolled their eyes or shaken their heads.
“Dude, make sure you eat,” they say.
“Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m just, you know,” I usually respond, trying to dismiss the subject entirely with the most inarticulate, vague answer I can think of, too embarrassed to actually complete the sentence.
But I’m sure you’ll understand: I’m just, you know, in love.