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My Big Head

by Dr. David Fialk, Editor / Publisher

Step right up

I have a big head. That is true in every sense, but here I am talking about hat-size. Along with that big head, I have a little body. It's a strange juxtaposition. It creates a sort of optical illusion. People don't notice how thin I am, because my big head, the first thing that they notice, distracts them.

When my daughter was a little girl, we went to the Eastern States' Exposition. It's like a huge county fair, with rides, agricultural exhibits, games, tests of skill, carnies of all varieties.

We were walking by the man who guesses your weight. A crowd of people stood in a semicircle a short distance from the man and his scale as he chatted them up, hawking for his next mark, customer: "Step right up."

It was just 25 cents to play, and if he was off by more than a few pounds, you won a doll that maybe cost him 35 cents. Without thinking, without a word, I presented myself before him and the crowd, paid my quarter, and stood aside the scale waiting for him to announce his estimation. He made his guess, and I confidently stepped up onto the scale, knowing he had missed by a mile.

When the needle came to rest on the scale's very large display, the carnie involuntarily exclaimed, "Shit!" He wasn't concerned about this bad comportment before the crowd, being a sore loser. He wasn't worried about the doll he had lost. He didn't use my victory to encourage the next person to try their luck. He was upset that his guess was so off. He was thinking that maybe he should go back to managing the ring-toss game.

The chain's weakest link

I have been attending Veronica's recently begun therapy sessions. The therapy is related to the neural impairment that forces her to walk with two canes. I made the arrangements with the therapist and am there mostly to translate. The therapist's office is only a few blocks away from Veronica's house in Manatial. So far there have been five sessions.

I bicycle up and meet Vero outside the office, locking the bicycle to the chain-link fence across the street, a fence that borders a small park. I would ride to her place and leave the bike locked up in her secure front patio, but I don't want the dog to see me, get all excited and then be left behind.

I'm always very careful with where I leave the bike. But yesterday it was raining, and I was late and instead of passing the cable lock around the fat post behind the chain-link, I just passed it through a few wires of the fence.

Today it was sunny, but I did the same, not taking the time to thread the cable around the oversized post, my fingers working through the chain-link. Nor, as it crossed my mind to do, did I move the bike down the hill a short way to a still stout post, but one easier to encircle. For no good reason at all, I wanted the bicycle to be closer to the therapist's door.

You've already guessed what happened. Forty minutes later, on exiting the door, the bike was gone. Someone had cut through those few wires of the chain-link and rode away with my bike. (Really, it was Veronica's bike, a great piece of machinery that she had brought up with her from Chile. She got it when, after striking her with his car, the driver offered to buy her the new bike of her choosing. But her legs are too weak now to pedal it uphill. She named it "Africa.")

Be careful what you wish for

As I write this, it's Tuesday night. This week I've been getting a lot of work done, a lot of important work. One pressing thing I hadn't started, at least not until 20 minutes ago, is this, the article destined to be published in Friday's newsletter. I was casting about for a theme, without success; wishing that something would happen to give substance to my otherwise too philosophical writing. Be careful what you wish for...

After taking in the wide empty space of chain-link fence, now devoid of my bicycle, I walked around the neighborhood talking to people, offering a reward, telling them that I just want to buy the bike back, no questions asked. Everyone was very sympathetic, but it's a longshot. Then, I went back to Veronica's, returning the dog's always exuberant greetings. There after commiserating with Vero for a while more, I took the dog for our regular walk around the block, on which I offered more rewards.

The long walk home

When I got back with the pooch, Vero continued to reassure me; "It's only material"; "We'll get another." She's a gem. And remembering the saying of my father, "If you have a problem, and money will fix it, it's not a problem," I had to admit that she was right.

I stubbed my toe the other night, and, there in the midst of the first few seconds of acute pain, comforted myself with the thought, "This pain will all be over in 60 seconds." The Greeks, cynical race that they were, believed that the gods gave humanity three gifts: sleep, wine, and forgetfulness. On the long walk home, plodding step by step down the hill through colonias Allende and Guadiana, instead of riding like the wind, I did not have the advantage of any of the Greek's divine oblivions.

I thought each step of how foolish I had been: there were so many stronger, unbreakable anchors to which to lock the bike; why did I want it to be in front of the therapist's door?; not late nor rained upon, why was I so lazy, so remiss as to not invest an extra 60 seconds passing the cable lock around the post?

I felt like that carnie, 30 years ago, who so badly missed guessing my weight. I kept asking myself how I could have been so wrong, "stupid" was the word I kept repeating. I lost confidence in my judgement.

Rose-colored glasses

Which brings me to the other sense of "my big head." I have a false sense of myself, looking at myself through rosy glasses, unaware of my misconceptions, overlooking my mistakes, until I open the door to see that the bicycle is gone.

Some of this self-delusion is a necessary human survival strategy. We have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. We cannot be frozen by self-doubt. But some of it is just arrogant egoism. Humbled, ashamed and disgraced, at least until my hubristic ego reasserts itself, I find myself worried, considering what other unknown errors will rear up to bite me in the ass.

Right now, it is late. I am tired, and looking forward to sleep's sweet oblivion. Maybe in the morning a moral to this story will present itself. Maybe, like a stubbed toe, it's a question of suffering through the initial burst of pain. I know, with the passing of days, I will begin to forget, and the sting will lessen. But right now, all that I can think of is the stolen bicycle and my big head.


I will trade free passes to events (I have access to a lot of those) for that bicycle you never use, or reward you with the same for donations to my bicycle fund: Paypal, Thanks.


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