Matt was telling me about the cigar bar he was going to later that night:
“Yeah, it’s really cool; the only people there are basically guys...and the waitresses are all women, you know. It feels like what life was probably like in the 50s. But I think it’s important, you know, to have a social space that’s reserved for men.”
I could see it. Dark, polished wood and leather armchairs that were just comfortable enough. Waitresses in black dresses and that richly sweet smell of cigars mingled with testosterone and tasteful cologne.
“Total boy’s club,” I said, rolling my eyes a bit.
And while we laughed at the semi-ridiculousness of it, I wondered again where the girls were. My aching calves and twitching thighs told me that it wouldn’t really matter where they were because I’d never be able to keep up, but I still wondered. And wracking my brain for a social space that might only belong to the women [other than the kitchen], I couldn’t come up with anything.
“I don’t think we have that,” I said, “I don’t think women have a space that’s just for them.”
And in a way, why should they? It isn’t the 50s anymore; there’s really no need for groups of women to gather together to commiserate over cheating husbands. Nowadays, you just kick that asshole to the curb and file for divorce. I mean, sure, we couldn’t get our shit together to get the ERA passed, but that doesn’t mean that women aren’t climbing social, political, and economic ladders. We’re on bicycles, too. Racing them, even.
So yes, in a way, it’s ludicrous to think that women would need to huddle together when they voluntarily signed themselves up for this sport in the first place. In fact, it borders on the insulting to think that women would. I’ve met enough women in cycling to know that they are - for lack of a better word - tough. And why wouldn’t they be? Unlike running, where you probably can’t go 10 feet without meeting some fun, completely you-compatible potential best friend material who will accept you for who you are, slow pace and all, cycling is one of the more isolating sports I’ve participated in. I could ride miles and miles, day after day, without spotting even one woman on a bike in my age group. Which, given my consistently pained expression, gasping breaths, and twitching leg muscles, is probably a blessing in disguise...I’m pretty sure I’d scare off more potential friends than draw them in with the ridiculousness of my current set-up. But the men? Yeah, they’re out there in droves. They’re fricking everywhere, in fact.
Which explains all the penis jokes, plus my complete lack of female friends, but not really where all the girls are at. I’m not talking so much about the hardcore ones...I can easily hit up Cambridge and Natasha for some introductions of that variety if I ever get anything with gears. But you know, something more middle of the road. Do they congregate anywhere? Or are we all just in limbo until we either get way better or decide to just stick to skirts on step-throughs?
On the other hand, maybe it’s all a bit contrived, anyway. Maybe the mutual interest in that generally vague category of “bicycles” would be the only common denominator. Maybe wanting a social space reserved for girls just because the boys have one is sort of silly. And maybe it’s not really worth worrying about, anyway. Because those boys really keep me riding.
Matt and I parted ways later that afternoon. And I knew deep down that if I asked to come with, he wouldn’t mind the female company, even if it was to a pretty much all male cigar bar. I didn’t though, because cigars aren’t really my thing. Who knows if competitive cycling ever will be? Maybe in a few years, maybe never. I think, though, I might prefer riding alone.
At least for now, anyway.