Friday, February 17, 2006

How not to be a vandal

So I'm walking back to the office after picking up my lunch, and there are two teenage boys wandering down the lane, in their usual subcultural and borderline illegal hoodie uniform. Hoods up, hands well down into their pockets, rounding their shoulders almost into invisibility, like Igor. They walk with that wonderful and evocative slight sideline weave, as though it is their collarbones and not their feet that propel them.

They're feeling a little destructive. You know how it is. They wanna ... do something. It's the moment where they'd like to jump on some garbage cans, maybe. Crash! Bang! Or possibly do something slightly obscene to a street sign.

So two notes about the environment in which they find themselves. First, this is a town of many bicycles. Many bicycles. Pretty much any fixed object which has parts allowing a bike lock to be affixed to it, has a bike (or nine) affixed to it. Second, although there are modern buildings wedged into any available crevice, most of what the boys can see was built about three hundred years ago. There are no garbage cans, street signs, bollards, or any of the other handy destructibles an urban playscape usually offers. Not even parked cars, for heaven's sake. What there is, however, is some cobbled path, a considerable length of vintage eighteenth-century wrought iron fencing, and many, many bicycles locked up to it, all wrapping their little mechanical limbs around each other like cicadas climbing up a tree.

So what's a boy to do? What else is there?

As they walk along the fence, they ring all of the bicycle bells in sequence, with that flip nonchalant motion of their arms as though they haven't the slightest care for the consequences of the actions of their limbs.

It sounds wonderful. It looks wonderful. It completely made my day.

I just feel that wasn't what they had in mind.


Heidi the Hick said...

I LOVE that! Ring the bell like a thug!

And I'm glad to hear that Cambridge is still full of bikes.

Phantom Scribbler said...

This totally made my day as well. Thank you!