Naked Bike Ride
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
I am a walking tour guide in New Orleans, which keeps me moving through the French Quarter on a regular basis. The Quarter deserves its reputation of being a place where things ... happen. I never know when I leave home exactly what kind of story I'll have to tell when I get back.
One of those moments happened on Saturday. After sampling the delights of the Creole Tomato Festival, my niece and I lingered for a few minutes in front of Brad Pitt's house. (Yes, I know. No, I won't tell you.) As we resumed our stroll towards supper, our way was blocked by bike riders, lots of them, in various states of undress. After I recovered my composure, I noticed a few things about the riders (other than the obvious).
First, they all looked like they were having fun. They weren't flashing or exhibiting -- and I have seen plenty of that in the Quarter. They were smiling, laughing, talking to each other or the people on the street, appreciating the reactions, loving the rain, grooving to the music, and enjoying riding their bikes. Only they were naked, or nearly so.
And I did not see one perfect body in the whole bunch. Young, old, fat, skinny, lean, flabby, whatever. They were who they were, and they didn't mind letting it show. They didn't have to meet someone else's standards, achieve anybody else's goals, or live up to other peoples' ideas of what a naked bike rider should look like. What freedom! What self-confidence! What joy!
The next day I checked out the on-line articles and found out that this is an annual multi-city event. Huh, you learn something new everyday. And then I read some of the comments. Sadly, most were complaints that too many of the riders were old, fat, ugly, or out of shape. Well, what were they expecting: body-builders and exotic dancers? The boo-bies seemed to be offended that these less-than-perfect people had inflicted themselves upon the sight of the world. Just exactly what do the complainers look like? And could someone please tell me exactly how much clothing is needed to cover up a) a bodily defect, b) a narrow mind, or c) an obnoxious personality? Which of these is the greatest social liability? If the first are required to duck and cover, then why are the second and third allowed unrestricted access to public display?
Me, I'm glad I got to see them. I'm tired of hearing people beat themselves up for being too much of themselves, pouring contempt on their already-abused bodies and shaming their worn-out psyches. I revel in seeing people who aren't afraid to be who they are, warts and all. Literally. Feeling good and enjoying life are the best motivation for being healthy, and vice versa. I'm on Spark People, doing my exercise and watching my food, because I want to strut my stuff now, not when I hit some magic number. I want to have fun now, not to be too tired to join the parade or too joint-achy to dance. I want to move through life, wild, free and joyous, letting my hair fly in the breeze and my bouncy parts do what they wanna.
So will I join next year's event? Probably not. I'm not much of a bike rider. But I might join the second line.