Keeping the Edge

When I lived in Sweet Home, you could tell the boys who chewed tobacco from behind, even when there wasn’t currently a flat can in the back pocket of their jeans. Over time, the cans wore a faded circle into the pocket and told the tale.

I am reminded of this phenomenon as I notice a trend among one set of Portland’s hardcore bicyclists: among certain of them, when they bike to and fro, the preferred place for their Kryptonite U-lock is jammed into their back pockets.  Anyone who has seen a U-lock knows that it strains the capacity of even the hardiest jeans pocket.  Over time, this practice fades the pocket into a U-lock shape.

I suspect this trend emerges from a mind-set not unlike that of competitive swimmers, who were said at one time to have shaved their heads and bodies in order to cut down on the friction in the water and thereby improve their times. Those who pocket their U-locks are invariably the same bikers who have stripped their bikes to a bare minimum to decrease weight and increase speed.  They have eliminated such non-essentials as fenders and brakes in service of this goal, so no way would they attach a bike-lock holder to their frames.

I have no neat little summation today, except perhaps to note that I am always intrigued with how I can start with something like noticing U-lock-filled pockets, and find myself remembering the ring from a chewing tobacco can, and the single-mindedness of the competitive swimmer.  My mind gives a little sigh of satisfaction when some connection is made between two or more seemingly disparate items.

  1. Polly Pitsker said:

    Nice observing. Nice blog. Thanks, Polly

    PS: I’ll send you a fun photo of Frankie. “I have a little sahdow that goes in and out with me . . . .”


  2. this same thing happens with cell phones and skinny jeans! if you ever meet my friend sarah rose you’ll notice the little square worn away in her front pockets.

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