What Has Two Wheels, Wears Seersucker, and Makes a Sucker of Me? A Bicycle Boy
A few weeks back, I had an encounter with a Bicycle Boy. It
Happened at a book party that was held in a great marble hall on a
Tree-lined street. While I was surreptitiously stuffing my face with
Smoked salmon, a writer friend, a guy, rushed up and said, “I’ve just
Been talking to the most interesting man.”
“Oh yeah? Where?” I asked, glancing around the room with suspicion.
“He used to be an archaeologist, and now he writes science
Books. . . fascinating.”
“Say no more,” I said. I had already spotted the man in
Question – he was dressed in what I imagined was the city version
Of a safari suit: khaki trousers, a cream-checked shirt, and a shghtly
Shabby tweed jacket. His gray-blond hair was raked back from his
Forehead, exposing a handsome chipped profile. So I was motoring,
As much as you can motor in strappy high-heeled sandals, across the
Room. He was in deep conversation with a middle-aged man, but I
Quickly took care of the situation. “You,” I said. “Someone just told
Me you were fascinating. I hope you won’t disappoint me.” I bore him off to an open window, where I plied him with cigarettes and
Cheap red wine. After twenty minutes, I left him to go meet some
Friends for dinner.
The next morning, he called me while I was still in bed with a
Hangover. Let’s call him Horace Eccles. He talked about romance. It
Was nice to lie in bed with my head throbbing and a handsome man
Cooing into my ear. We arranged to meet for dinner.
The trouble began almost immediately. First he called to say he
Was going to be an hour early. Then he called back to say he wasn’t.
Then he called to say he was going to be half an hour late. Then he
Called and said he was just around the corner. Then he really was
Forty-five minutes late.
And then he turned up on his bicycle.
I didn’t realize this at first. All I noticed was a more than normal
Dishevelment (for a writer) and a slight breathiness, which I
Attributed to the fact that he was in my presence. “Where do you
Want to have dinner?” he asked.
“I’ve already arranged it,” I said. “Elaine’s.”
His face twisted. “But I thought we’d just have dinner at some
Neighborhood place around the corner.”
I gave him one of my looks and said, “I don’t have dinner at
Neighborhood places around the corner.” For a moment, it looked
Like it was going to be a standoff. Finally, he blurted out, “But I
Came on my bicycle, you see.”
I turned around and stared at the offending piece of machinery,
Which was tethered to a lamppost.
“I don’t think so,” I said.
MR. NEW YORKER AND
This was not my first encounter with a Manhattan literary-romantic
Subspecies I’ve come to call the Bicycle Boys. A while back, I was
At a dinner with one of the most famous Bicycle Boys, whom we’ll
Just call Mr. New Yorker. Mr. New Yorker,
An editor at that publication, looks like he’s thirty-five (even though
He’s quite a bit older), with floppy brown hair and a devastating
Smile. When he goes out, he usually has his pick of single women,
And not just because these women want to get something published
In the New Yorker. He’s smooth and a little sloppy. He sits down next
To you and talks to you about politics and asks your opinion. He makes you feel smart. And then, before you know it, he’s gone.
“Hey, where’s Mr. New Yorker?” everyone was asking at eleven
O’clock. “He made a phone call,” one woman said, “and then he took
Off on his bike. He was going to meet someone.”
The image of Mr.