Erin and I decided to take a bike ride to Fort Edmonton Park. We weren’t sure how to do it but thought it’d be fun to try. We left at 9:20 at night without any lights. We packed a couple of tall cans after we had shotgunned a couple cans of cider.
We got to a point where we couldn’t find a path from the top of the hill to the river valley below so we stopped a couple and asked, “Do you know how we can get to Fort Edmonton Park from here?”
They were both totally equipped with pro headlights, anorak and helmet and responded, “Well, you can take this trail down to the zoo and then follow the river from there. It’s quite a ways. Where are you coming from?”
“We just came from the zoo.”
“Oh really? So you probably don’t want to backtrack. You could follow us. Do you have a lot of energy?”
I didn’t like the sound of that. Also… I’m never very keen on hanging out with people I don’t know. As nice as they seemed, I’ve never really been one for making new friends. But Erin is a bird of a different feather. “Sure! We can follow you.”
She looked to me and I half heartedly smiled. “Yeah. We can follow.”
I rode alongside the guy and Erin rode beside the girl. I could barely think of anything to say, “So you guys are big bikers.”
He had even less to respond with. “Yeah. We like to bike.”
A few beats of silence and then I had the next question, “You live around here?”
“Kind of. We’re going in the direction of our house.”
“Oh. Ok.” Some beats of awkward silence. “Weird. I’ve lived here for so long and I never knew this neighbourhood existed.”
He had no response to that one.
A good half hour of this. Me trying to strike up a conversation. I can’t talk to other men. Men that wear sweats, I guess. I learned this guy works in the oil business, has children, is divorced, that he met his current girlfriend (riding behind us) on the internet. She was new to Edmonton, having just moved from Toronto. I don’t think he asked me a single question. How does that work? Weirdo. Selfish weirdo.
The girlfriend’s front bike tire popped. “Oh Christ.” I thought to myself. “We’re going to have to drag this out forever.” Luckily she managed to ride on her flat. Her boyfriend didn’t even suggest trading bikes. Selfish and whatever the opposite of chivalrous is. No wonder he was divorced. The trip lasted another painful 20 minutes. Until we got to the pile of silver balls. An Edmonton institution. That’s when Erin and I opened up a beer.
“Want some?” We offered.
“No. We don’t drink.”
Ugh. That would explain why we couldn’t relate. The worst!
The guy’s brother came to pick them up in a Ford Chevy Silverado. Good riddance. I don’t even know if we said goodbye.