I drank tea while chatting on the phone to Janet, and that is what got me into trouble. It was probably 9 a.m., and I was barely awake. There was a lot of chat about bicycling, yadda yadda yadda, then some frantic stuff about not getting in her miles for the 468-mile cross-state bicycle ride she signed up for with her boyfriend.
And she wasn’t enjoying the literature class she was taking this summer. That was apparently my fault.
“I had to write a paper for your Aristophanes guy,” she said.
“He’s not my Aristophanes guy,” I said absent-mindedly.
“I thought you knew him.”
“I don’t know him at all.”
“I mentioned your name.”
“I can’t even spell his name.”
My thoughts were accelerating on caffeine and I decided to change the subject. “Here’s an idea. Do your training on the actual bike ride. Or ride your bike over here at 4 and we’ll have tea.”
I am so flippant. By four I am definitely done drinking tea. And Janet lives 150 miles away, so she couldn’t possibly come.
But Janet thought it sounded like fun. She said she would be there.
Even at a very fast clip, it takes two hours, and more like two and a half hours to drive from Riverville. Turned out she was coming to town to see her sister Agatha anyway, because they planned to buy a couple of Japanese bicycles and ride this weekend.
“I can definitely return your Schwinn,” she said.
“No rush. We have four bicycles.”
So I got ready. It was time to retire the Go Hawks t-shirt that doubles as a nightgown. I had to do laundry so I could wear my mail-order t-shirt with the odd-looking glittery beads sewn around the neckline. I cleaned the living room. And then I baked some oatmeal cookies, because if someone comes all the way from Riverville, you provide food.
I got a recipe off the internet. The soft oatmeal cookie recipe didn’t require a trip to the store to get raisins or chocolate chips or something. No, it was all about the oatmeal and the cinnamon. Only after I mixed the dough did I discover I was supposed to refrigerate it for an hour and then mold it into little balls.
Who has time for that? It was already three o’clock.
So I just baked them. Here’s what worked. Bake non-ball-shaped unrefrigerated dough for 8-10 minutes? Uh-uh. I dropped them from an ice cream scoop and let them bake for 12 minutes instead. They were still oatmeal cookies, even though they weren’t rolled into balls first.
What a chef I am. Cookies fresh out of the oven.
Then Janet arrived. She was huffing and puffing on a bicycle. My old bicycle. My old Schwinn. Behind her a big car with a bike rack was honking and someone was waving.
“That’s my sister,” Janet said. “I AM SO GLAD TO SEE YOU. She is driving me crazy.”
Agatha is the opposite of Janet in every way. Janet is blond; Agatha is dark. Janet is very thin; Agatha is a little plumper and prettier. Janet is a PR woman who loves literature; Agatha is a divorced emergency room nurse who sings in the chorus in community theater musicals. I couldn’t swear to the kind of car Agatha was driving, but the licence plate said FASTLANE, FASSBINDER, or possibly FLASHDANCE. I need new glasses.
Agatha got our of the car. “Nice to meet you, Kat. Want to see our new bicycles?”
Janet and I sat in the back yard and drank several cups of Oolong tea. Agatha would not eat cookies because of the sugar, nor drink tea because of the caffeine. I offered her lemonade. She drank water from her own water bottle.
I raised my eyebrows.
Agatha explained she is on a special bicycling diet because she has decided to go along on the 468-mile bike trip with Janet and her boyfriend. Registration for the ride was closed, but Agatha knew someone who knew someone who knew someone who knew someone who was dropping out…
She has maps of the whole Midwest. She says she and Janet will ride 100 miles this weekend. “Then if Janet goes 25 or 30 miles a day next week in Riverville…”
Janet is looking tired. Her high-powered boyfriend will fly in at the end of next week, and he and Agatha will have different ideas about the ride. They will coach her so strenuously that she’ll just sit down by the side of the road and refuse to move.
Well, perhaps that’s the way out of the six-day ride. It would be easier to say No, though.
“Yes, I think I really need a cookie,” said Janet.