The Bike Museum

Carmen peered over Ryan’s shoulder at the text on his computer monitor.

“Really?” she said. “Ted’s Cycle Center? You want to call that a tourist attraction?”

“I absolutely think Ted’s Cycle Center is a tourist attraction,” Ryan replied, with deadly seriousness.

Ryan was new with the Alaville Tourism Board. This was his first time working on the annual visitor’s guide, so Carmen knew that she had to be patient with him. On the other hand, his guileless earnestness was almost instantly annoying.

“It’s a bike shop,” she explained slowly. “A shop. Not an ‘attraction.’”

“It’s got all sorts of historic and classic bicycles hanging from the ceiling. It’s like a museum. I could see that a lot of bicycle enthusiasts would want to see it.”

This was a generous assessment, Carmen thought. The shop did technically have bicycles hanging from the ceiling, about a dozen nondescript rusty beaters in a wire cage above the light fixtures. There was no description of them such as a museum might have, and they made no effort to call attention to themselves. In fact, given that only three of the light bulbs actually worked, a person could look up at the bicycles and not see them.

“Calling the shop a museum is like calling a goiter a supermodel just because Cindy Crawford had a mole,” Carmen declared.

“Don’t we want Alaville to seem like it has tourist attractions?”

“We do,” Carmen admonished. “We have vortexes of mystical energy, and living history farms where hippies dress in tie-dye and relax and a wonderful downtown tourist shopping district where people can buy properly touristy things like painted rocks with googly eyes.”

Ryan took a deep, triumphant breath. “If we include some stores, then we just have to include them all.”

Carmen pulled up a chair for herself and plopped down. “We don’t have to do anything. We have full autonomy. The city council doesn’t even read this thing.”

Ryan pounded his fist on his desk. “The ethics of tourism public relations demand that we give every business in this fair city equal treatment!”

Carmen looked at the computer screen once more. “I notice that you haven’t offered equal treatment to the Spoke ‘n Word,” she declared.

“Well, no, I’m not going to include them,” Ryan said. “They’re a bunch of choads.”

“Hmm,” Carmen hooted. She walked away without another word. It didn’t seem that there was anything else to say.

***********************

This is another passage that I think will have a home in The Clean Hippie Murders. The story behind it may well be longer than the piece itself.

The inspiration came from an article that I was editing at work. In preparation for the association’s annual conference, a member of certain standing decided that she wanted to contribute a piece on off-the-beaten-trail tourist attractions. Because of her standing, my boss decided to accept it.

One of these was a bike store not unlike the one described in this story.

The store happens to be about a block from my apartment. I’ve gone there a couple times but won’t go back; when I asked to hang a show poster on their large bulletin board, they said that it was reserved for bike-related events. That would be fine, except for the posters for Macbeth and about a dozen other shows that were already there.

The article also has a pretty annoying ending. Upon publication, the author sent my boss a whole litany of complaints about it, none valid (she managed to simultaneously complain that it was too long and too short, for example, and she was angry that I included hours of operation when she wanted readers to have to visit the attractions’ web sites for that information) and some outright lies (she claimed I had never sent her a pdf of the final version; when I pointed out that it was still in my sent mail folder, she changed her story to claim that I had sent a message but that nothing was attached.)

Isn’t it wonderful to meet special friends through work?

(Also, I realized in writing this story that, while I have a fairly good idea of the town that will be the setting for the book, I haven’t yet named it. “Alaville” is a name that I despise and will be changed eventually.)

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