Oh yes, there was a bit left. A tiny shred, really, a mere remnant, but it was definitely there and I suppose I was unconsciously clinging to it.

See, I’d finally been worn down. Since I started riding the Segway, every woman I know has been on my case about getting a helmet. And then this Spring and Summer, as my mental state gradually improved and I started radiating more and more approachable vibes, women I didn’t know began accosting me with suggestions involving protecting my head, despite my protests that it was demonstrably my most durable part.

And then even a few men tiptoed carefully around the H-word.

And finally, after I got my legs fixed and the shock wore off, I began experiencing a strange sensation that after some soul-searching I identified as a reappearance of caution.

Yes, now that I again have something to lose, the scale has tipped.

So this afternoon I turned myself in at Noe Valley Cyclery, where the nice guy introduced me to current concepts in head protection as arrayed in an impressive wall display. We quickly decided on the second model from the bottom owing to its cute little visor and then, since I couldn’t match my hair color (there are holes in these helmets!), I just grabbed a white one, only later realizing that I should have got a silver one to match the Segway. It’s not easy being a minuscule minority: a fashion-challenged gay man.

But anyhow, the guy put it on me and then adjusted the complex strappery so that it was both comfortable and snug as he clicked it shut beneath my chin, and I was off down 24th. To my surprise, it remained comfortable as I rode, and so many bicycle riders use them that I didn’t feel at all dorky.

Entirely pleased with myself, I decided to swing by the cheese store while I was down there. By now I’m so accustomed to riding the Segway that it really is pretty much second nature, great arcs ending with graceful dismounts onto curbs as I’m shucking off the pack so I can draw out the cable lock in one smooth, flowing motion. The helmet doesn’t get in the way at all.

It was only after I’d locked the Segway to a parking meter while I chatted with a passing couple that I discovered that the nice cycle-shop guy had assumed, incorrectly, that I knew how to unfasten the helmet.

The good news is that the couple was turning away as I made this discovery and that there was nobody else right there on the sidewalk to watch as I frantically and with total futility clawed at the fastenings and then took my glasses off and after a couple of tries managed to somehow wriggle my head out of the damn thing without dislocating my jaw.

The bad news is that from the dim store interior, Charles was watching through his screen door, and as I entered he gave me a look. No, not a smirk. Oh, I could have dealt with a smirk.

It was pity.

And here’s some Hartford St. flues:

hartford flues


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