Monday, May 12, 2008

Biking to a Business Event? Former Glamour Girl Surprised by Own Behavior.

The Girlscouts Women of Distinction benefit dinner, a very worthy charity event, commanded The Belle's attendance. Here is her account of events that night arriving via bicycle.

So, a few Friday nights ago an interesting and funny chain of events occured. I was invited to attend The Girlscouts of America Women of Distinction dinner in Charleston. The event was held at the Marriott on Lockwood Boulevard(approx. 1.3 mi. from our home). The Girl Scouts dinner was such an inspiring and honorable event. It's been a long time since I've thought of my own little "Brownie" days. I had forgotten what wonderful, strong, enterprising women give their support to this noble clan of sisters.

Considering, however, that our bus system, CARTA, only runs once an hour, the bus was not headed my way until much later than needed. Instead of flaunting an evening gown and arriving considerably late (part of my previous life back when I wasn't hopping busses and rocketing down King Street on pedal power) I sported a plain white shirt and sensible grey pants with sturdy, black, wide-wedged heels. Yes, you can wear heels on a bike. Although I broke a slight sweat biking and almost got my semi-fancy pant leg stuck in the chain, my arrival and departure were priceless, making the whole wet brow thing well worth it.

You'd think I'd talk more about the girlscouts - BUT I CAN'T - because pulling a bike up to the valet was just too damn funny. It occurred to me that it was obsurd too at the same time (yeah, well, conforming has always been a bit of a problem). Pulling up I expected to find a bike rack of some sort. Nothing. Nowhere. Hello? Aren't more people biking these days? Don't any of the bellboys bike? Where exactly does a gentlewoman park her bike up in here?

At the valet stand, under a large stuccoed overhang welcoming guests in pseudo archway fashion, the bellboys stood at attention. There were two of them in their perfect, crisp marroon coats. With no sign of a bike rack, I decided to ask if there was an appropriate spot where I could park my ride so as not to disturb the comings and goings of the hotels' guests. Every spot I saw seemed to be reserved for something other than a bike. There existed a luggage spot, a smoking spot, a pool towel pick-up spot and gigantic planters with sprawling green palms occupying the perfect spot for a bike rack. In abundant naiivete, I inquired. "Hi, there. Is there an appropriate place to lock up my bike?" Both bellboys stared at me quizically as if I had just spoken to them in some Vulcan space language. The suave, blonde, nineteenish guy volunteered his service to "watch the bike" if I was just running in for a minute. That scenario must have made sense to him. I thanked him and explained that I was attending an event. The noir-haired boy cocked his head to the side to interject with, "well, no one has ever pulled up on a bike before," as he exchanged a fast glance with his co-worker right as he whipped out a charming smile to smooth over his hasty situational assessment. I countered. "Well, that's unfortunate! I thought more people were biking these days." He swiftly offered to put the bike in the luggage room where he assured me it would be the only bike, "therefore I should have no problem picking it up" when needed upon the event's end. No ticket required.

It was all laughs as the accommodating young man returned after checking, but not checking, in the bike upon which (to my surprise) the two pups tagged along behind me through the glass doors and into the lobby firing questions moi rapido.The REAL Joan Crawford I could not fathom the rationale behind my sudden commodity-like popularity. One asked, "where are you from?" I responded indifferently. "Here. Just across town." The other practically cut me short with, "what event are you going to?" I thought to myself, geez, these guys clearly need some more stimulation at work as I answered as quickly as possible the rapid-fire question spree. I hastily thanked them, gave a small tip (I hadn't planned on having to tip bellhops, yo) and got out of the lobby to meet my LADY friends who were loitering about the auction room where elegant attendees bid up items for the Girl Scouts' benefit.

My departure was equally fantastic. Of course, there had been a regime change under the valet overhang. I walked out the glass hotel doors and asked the new guy for the bike. I told him where to find my vehicle back in the luggage room. He promptly disappeared to retrieve the little blue bandit. One minute later, he rolled it out through the side door toward me. But before handing it over, he too, suddenly became a modern day Sherlock Homes! WTF is going on at this Marriott, anyway? The new guy literally withheld the bike for a moment, pulling it back toward him to confirm my apparent lunacy with...."So, you want to ride this now?" Sure, he could have been concerned for my safetly since dusk was turning rapidly to dark, but I think he was just being nosy. Responding, "yes, well I have to get home somehow," he gave up the bike, leaning it toward me then like an offering. However, Shirlock was not satisfied and persisted. "Well, where's your car?" Then he mumbled something about it possibly being in the shop under his breath. I laughed and cliff-noted the effort to cut oil consumption. After a brief half second of confusion (the majority of woman are certainly not riding in on bikes yet), Holmes swaggered back and forth rocking to an unheard beat that suggested he kinda "got it." He tilted backward to balance for a moment on his heels as if he was about to make some profound proclamation. He was slightly more seasoned than the earlier crew and did collect himself as I secured my heeled foot on the pedal for takeoff. "Ahhhh- uh huh. That's cool, that's cool," he said. "Yeah....thanks for doing your part."

THANKS FOR DOING YOUR PART?!? What? I wasn't expecting that one. I have no idea what the guy knew about global warming, earth cycles, oil, pollution or the relativity of all of them, if anything. But, whatever. It was nice to hear someone just say thanks for our efforts to pollute a little bit less.

The night watch's apros-pos one liner made dressing down a little more bearable for a girl who has loved to dress UP from about the time she was able to hold a girlscout cookie on her own! In myself I saw a bit of a residual egoic sense of concern for vanity, but upon summing up the entire evening, any sense of discomfort I felt was just a temporary illusion of my own making that ended up overshadowed by dividends paid out in laughter and the small sense of pride I gained for actually making it across town both ways without breaking a heel, my own neck or marring an expensive pant leg in an oily bike chain.

After all, many a strong woman took the podium that Friday evening and not one of them talked of a particular dress or suit that contributed to achieving their newly gained positions of honor. No, the dress certainly does not make the woman.

I hope the Marriott gets a bike rack.

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