The loop and the loopy

I’ve often read about people having epiphanies — great blasts of insight and inspiration that lead to amazing works. But I’m not a believer. Or more exactly, I’d never want to depend on them for results — even for a little while.

That said, that’s exactly how The Blue Buns Wheel-a-Palooza hit the light of day.

And what, you wonder, is The Blue Buns Wheel-a-Palooza?

Well, as of now, it’s nothing. But in a mere nine days it will make its debut as the newest, and most fabulous, Winter Carnival event.

It’s an everyone-friendly, one-mile bike ride in a loop around town. There’s no entry fee, there’s no timekeeper and no list of who finished where. Instead, its purpose is for everyone to show up, shmooze with friends old and new, and have a blast.

Oh yeah, I forgot — the riders will be dressed in the Uniform of the Day: Swimsuits (though if you’re more on the sane side, it’s highly recommended you have lots o’ underlayers).

Riding a bike in Saranac Lake clad in your skivs, on Feb. 5? Who in their right mind would do that? Probably no one. But who during Carnival in My Home Town would want to be in their right mind? If right-mindedness is your thing, Carnival time anywhere is probably not for you.

Anyhow, back to the epiphany …

So Jen-Ex and I were hanging out, sipping herbal tea (her) and swilling coffee (me), chattin’ about various minutiae of life. In other words, just sharing the bliss. In the background, internet radio was playing vintage rock and while I noted the songs, I paid no attention to them. “Katmandu” by Bob Seger … “Words of Love” by The Mamas and the Papas, “Soul Man” by Sam and Dave … and so on and so forth … till “Bicycle Race” by Queen came on and — Suddenly — Holy Moly! Yow! Sweet Baby Jesus!

“That’s it!” I shouted. “That’s it!”

“What?” said Jen-Ex, shocked. “What’s it?”

“Bicycle! Bicycle! Bicycle!” I yelled like a madman.

“I don’t know if you realize it or not,” she said in clearly measured tones, “but right now you’re making no sense whatsoever.”

“Ah,” I said, raising my index finger for emphasis, “But I will.”

She said nothing, but gave me a look that expressed more doubt than agreement.

“A Winter Carnival bike ride,” I said, snapping my fingers as the words and ideas poured out, “in bathing suits. I can see it now!”

A long moment passed.

“Well,” I said, “whatcha think?”

“I think,” she said, “you can include me out.”

An inauspicious start, and certainly no note of encouragement.

But then I thought of Thomas Edison’s 9,000 unsuccessful attempts to make a storage battery. And when one of his assistants said it was a shame he didn’t get any results, he replied, “Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results! I know several thousand things that don’t work.”

Next I thought, “What did Edison have that I don’t — aside from an unlimited budget, a huge staff and a genius IQ?”

But I had something Edison never had, namely Bluto’s speech from Animal House. It’s something that has made thousands, if not millions, of peeps carry on in the face of adversity and eventually prevail. If you never saw Animal House (and shame on you if you didn’t), here ’tis:

“Over? Did you say ‘over’? Nothing is over till we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no! … When the goin’ gets tough, the tough gets goin. Let’s go! Let’s do it!”

And thus, fired up by those stirring words, I knew failure wasn’t even a remote possibility.

Instant approval …

The next morning I rose bright and early at the crack of noon and headed to the Enterprise office. Once there, I met with Liz Scammell Murray, Major Domo of All Things Winter Carnival and Everything Else in Town, to ask her how to make the BB an official Carnival event.

“All you have to do,” she said, “is show up at the Winter Carnival Committee meeting, float it by them, and get it approved.”

Inwardly, I groaned and my stomach lurched.

Getting a committee’s approval? I’d rather drink a pail of warm spit.

I had a lot of experience with committees — 40 years’ worth, in fact — all of them college committees. And each can be summed up by that old saw, “A committee is something that spends hours taking minutes.”

But I had no option. If I wanted the BB to dance to the music, I’d have to pay the WCC’s piper.

The meeting was held in the Elk’s lodge and it was packed with various committee chairpersons (I counted 32 in all, but some were missing). At the table in the front of the room sat the Triumvirate: Chairman Jeff Branch, Vice-Chair Rob Russell, and Secretary Nancy Varin LaBombard.

The meeting was called to order, old business was discussed, the committee chairs made their reports and then it was my turn.

Briefly, I said I had a new event I wanted to be made official. I said what it was, then said its name and motto (“Put Your Icicles on Bicycles and Ride, Baby Ride”). That got some chuckles, so I figured it was a favorable reaction.

After that, Jeff said it sounded good, put it to a vote, and it passed unanimously. Just like that, zippity bop, and completely unlike any committee I’d ever seen at Old Siwash.

Liz explained it to me: “You want to start some new event, they’ll approve it. It’s yours, you own it, and it’s up to you to get it done. People will help, but everyone is too busy to give you a lot of time and effort. Matter of fact, we have a standing joke, that you need to go to every meeting, because if you’re not there, you’ll find out you got appointed to one more committee.”

… and long-term work

And so I went on my merry way.

My first chore was to recruit Jackie Boy Drury. He agreed readily, probably because I told him he’d be the Assistant Organizer, Minister of Recruitment and Director of Public Relations. Give JBD a title, and he’s as happy as Fido slobbering over a sirloin.

After that, I got sponsors; a police and rescue squad escort; a fabulous logo from our staff artist, Bruce Young, and all sorts of other stuff that I won’t bore you with. But if you want to appreciate Winter Carnival thrills and chills, literally, just show up at the ice palace on Sunday, Feb. 5 at 12:45. You won’t be disappointed.

There was one minor headwind on this otherwise smooth voyage. It came in the form of a phone call from my friend Astral Starburst, astrologer, numerologist, and Queen of Metaphysical Mysteries.

As soon as I picked up the phone, she launched into her spiel.

“Look,” she said, “I’ve just gone over your chart for Feb. 5, as well as the long-term weather forecast. And neither one is good.”

“Oh?” I said.

“Yes,” she said. “First, Pluto is in the Fifth House, plus there’ll be a Neptune-Mars conjunction. And beyond that, the Weather Service is predicting temps in the single digits.”

“So?” I said.

“So it spells danger all around, that’s what,” she said. “It could be like what happens to guys your age who one minute are shoveling snow, and the next have keeled over, dead!”

She rambled on in the same vein after that, but I ignored it all.

OK, let’s say she’s right. Let’s say the cold and the exertion are too much for me and, instead of cruising through town, I cruise over the Rainbow Bridge.

But so what?

If you can think of a better way for me to leave Planet Earth than croaking in a goofy Winter Carnival event, let me know.

Because truth be told, I sure can’t think of one.


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