When I’m on the bike, I definitely feel different. It’s kind of like being on the internet (hang in there with me) — I’m not totally anonymous, and I’m visible, but I can ride by and it’s thrilling. Like, when I’m driving and I make a stupid mistake that causes another driver to curse at me (not that this happens often, but I think it happens to most people one time or another) but when I’m on the bike, it’s different, I’m not going to hurt anyone, and I don’t want to be a douche, but I can and have to think more about myself than I have to think about the other drivers. It’s more about me, and less about the rest of the world.
And for me, this is a good thing, because I often get caught up in thinking about everyone else’s needs. I don’t always act on the thoughts, but I spend a lot of time thinking about what I think other people need.
Riding my bicycle makes me feel freer, braver, stronger. Kind of like a superhero. And there are a couple of other elements, too, like the bike helmet makes me feel like I could survive a blow to the head. Or the bike lock I chose was super heavy, and could easily double as a weapon. I even could envision stopping my bike short, if needed, and slamming the back wheel into a bad guy’s face (having a step-through bike makes it easier, I imagine). This is different for me, as I am usually repulsed by thoughts of violence, even if at rare times I know the feeling of being so angry I wanted to bash someone’s head, I’ve never done it.
So, the daydream goes something like this: Mild-mannered public health state employee and mom and wife almost all the time, when AcceptanceWoman climbs on her bike, something* transforms her into a superhero. She’s riding along and seeks a group of boys playing keep-away with a girl’s headscarf while they are on their way to school. The girl is crying and pleading with the boys to give it back. AcceptanceWoman rides right up to the boys, stands on her (pink, I know) bike, and tells them in no uncertain terms to give it back. “You gonna make us?” one of the boys asks? AcceptanceWoman pedals fast right up to the boy with the scarf, grabs it from him, turns quickly kicking dust in the boys faces and gives it back to the girl. Seeing that the elementary school is less than a block away, AcceptanceWoman walks the girl to the school gates, and once the girl is inside, lets one of the yard aides know what happened, then rides off quickly to work.
Shocked, AcceptanceWoman questions her actions, but is also thrilled at her decisive action. She arrives at work, locks up her bike, gets changed in the bathroom into her long skirt and t-shirt and begins her work day.
So, I think this would make a great premise for a comic book. An unlikely superhero. Problem? I can’t draw. I mean, I can draw, but it looks crappy and it would take me for-friggin’-ever to finish even one panel. If I could find an artist to collaborate with, this would be a really fun project. Not sure I have the time to do it. But the idea of a 42-year-old, fat, short, Ashkenazi Jewish, progressive full-time working mom with a secret identity that gets triggered by mounting her commuter bike is a really great premise, if I say so myself. And what does AcceptanceWoman fight? Why, intolerance, rejection, stigma, -isms, meanness, etc. in an intersectional way.
I could probably try to kluge something together, visually, to go along with the words, but it would have to be something I could do quickly, because otherwise, I’ll lose patience with the project. If there’s an artist out there who would want to collaborate with me, I would be open to exploring the idea — I generally work really well with artists — I believe artists deserve a wide berth when it comes to their vision being the one on the page.
What do you think? I don’t really have time to work on this in my already busy life (between my first grader, husband/partner, family, work, being a girl scout leader and sunday school teacher, and attending to my emotional, physical, spiritual, social health). But it’s a recurring daydream, hard to ignore.
* I was thinking that her superpower would maybe come not from anything supernatural so much as adrenaline. I was imagining, what if a long but tiny blackberry thorn were to become imbedded in her bike helmet such that it stimulated the adrenal system whenever she put her helmet on, and then seeing injustice done would trigger the stress response, and she would put herself in situations she would ordinarily avoid. A sort of ridiculous, outsized bravery, combined with actual strength, wearing a helmet, carrying a very heavy bike chain and lock, and speed on the bicycle, she could be quite fearsome. I think the psychological tension would come from questioning her actions after the fact, worry about being a vigilante, and guilt. Jewish, Jewish guilt.