Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Older I Git, the Better My Kit

An email from Pactimo, a custom bike clothing company, tells me that Arlene Pederson (only one letter removed from Marlene Pederson, my mother's maiden name) has a new line of designer bike togs. It tells me that I can click on the link to view these lovely, wearable works of art. I look at my watch and see I have a few moments to steal and take a look.

Yikes! They are gorgeous. One of them is called "Peridot," which happens to be my birthstone. Yes, it is really nice I say to the screen. And it is beyond my bike budget, so I return to work. I thought that would be the end of the story. Hah!

I am not a clothes horse, fashion plate, or style conscious devotee of hipster trends. My students astutely notice that I wear the same pair of jeans (Costco -- $12.99) every day of the semester. I wear sandals (with socks!). It takes me all of seven minutes to dress for work. People in the English Department refer to my herd of Hawaiian shirts as "Erec shirts," not in a flattering tone. Some gay friends despair at my lack of style when we meet for coffee. They shake their heads and lament "straight guys..."

Bike stuff, though is different. I do dress up just a bit, but tentatively. The whole tight-short-bright-jersey thing is just a bit too flashy and audacious for my Lutheran frugality and humble sensibilities. My extravagance is limited and sober.

Some history:

I met Arlene several years before. I told her I loved her work, especially the "Day of the Dead" jerseys and shorts. I told her that her designs captured something elusive and defining about Tucson's personality and bike scene. I told her that her work was some of the best local art happening. Of course, I was not alone in my praise. Arlene had done pro bono work for BICAS, designing their 25 year anniversary jersey. She nailed the design for one of the hippest things happening in art, bikes, and community building.

She was a rock star of design, a drop-dead gorgeous athlete and spirit. Everybody agreed. She is a going concern, a bright light. 

I told other people about her work. I bought jerseys for Megan and for friends. On a bike tour in New Mexico, a bunch of us held an Arlene Pederson Day and wore her jerseys as our peloton kits.

That went well. It proved that Arlene's fans are legion. Her work is worn far and wide, not limited to the Southwest.

She has continued to evolve into new levels of expression. Her designs now draw more on spirituality as well as nature and Tucson culture. The work keeps getting better and better.

Back to the office and the email... So I am working away when I get a message to call Arlene ASAP. I give her a call and she says, "I want to give you a kit."

I say, "I was just looking at your stuff on line, and think it is fabulous, but it's out of by budget right now."

"This is for free. I just need your address so I can drop it off."

No kidding.

So the Peridot kit from the woman whose name is one letter different from my mother's, who is also a kindred spirit, a woman on a creative path, a woman fueled by a passion for beauty, play, and style, says, "No strings. I just want to thank you for your support over the years."

And that is how this old guy ended up with a fancy kit, a kit way beyond his means and abilities as a cyclist.

But, hey, it looks sharp, I think. And it's my birthstone.

Most of all though, it goes with my crazy shoes.

Thanks Arlene. Even old guys can learn new tricks.