8/26/2016 10:22

Hogging the Walk

Some people seem not to like riding their bicycles in the quiet residential streets, preferring to ride on the quiet residential sidewalks. When such a person overtakes a pedestrian strolling along -- possibly with his dog, stopping at every third tree -- the bike rider responds in one of a number of ways.

Many riders veer into the street long enough to pass the walker. Some ride up onto the grass to pass. And the rest attempt to enforce their usurpation of the walkway with a scatalogical or fornicatory incantation.

The logic of using a series of effectively meaningless words as a device to suborn a right already granted to someone else has forever eluded me. I assume it must be magic.

Magic itself is an interesting concept. The stated belief is -- well, often it is -- that a series of vocalizations affect complex behaviors deterministically. (Granted, there are other variations on the idea. Some forms use stews of unpalatable materials. Others use dreams or other noumena. But the lack of demonstrable cause to the intended effect is consistent.) Some of these incantations use actual words, some use imitations of Latin, and some are beyond any etymology.

The expressions of the rude bicycle riders fall clearly into the first category. The words are real enough and they are assembled into phrases which are parsable, but not quite interperable, and which have no apparent relevance to the pedestrian's right to the walkway or the bike rider's desire to ride over the walk, the walker's rights, and quite possibly the walker.

Up to this time I have not suffered tread marks on my shins. Nor have any of the various deprecations hurled over passing shoulder had any discernable effect on my life, health, or way. But still they bother me a bit, because in actual reality we all believe in magic just a little bit.