Janet Combs

Janet Combs

After 20 months, we are almost done with all of the major home improvements to our fixer-upper. We are finally seeing a future when all of our quality time will not be spent standing on adjacent drop cloths, shouting conversations over the roar of the air compressor.

I know this because last weekend we went on some errands and drove past several home improvement stores without stopping at a single one. Admittedly, this made us nervous.

“Do we need anything?” my husband asked, adjusting and readjusting his hands on the steering wheel as if to prevent the car from involuntarily veering into Lowe’s.

“I don’t think so,” I said, putting my hand up to my left eyelid, which was twitching the way it used to back in the third grade whenever we had Times Tables drills. “Don’t we have anything to return?”

“I don’t think so,” my husband said.

I hope you have enjoyed this peek into our scintillating weekend conversations.

Our mission that particular Saturday was to go to a bicycle shop to inquire about certain features of an adult tricycle we had previously purchased on Craigslist. Yes, we might just be exactly the type of customer bicycle shop owners dread—the kind who has already bought a nice bicycle at a sizeable discount from a kind local guy who was cleaning out his garage; the kind who stops in and takes up time seeking “free information.”

But, spoiler alert, we are not merely that type of customer, because we ended up purchasing another bicycle at the shop!

The truth is, we are typically that customer, and here is why: the way we look at it, you can’t really purchase “used” paint for your home—and have you checked the price of a gallon lately? On the Planet Janet MMS (Meaningful Mathematical Scale)—it is roughly two to three dinners out. Conversely, you can purchase used or “reclaimed” wood for a decorative accent on a wall in your home, but that will be more expensive than freshly milled wood. What I am trying to say is we tend to spend on our home’s infrastructure and therefore skimp a little on ourselves—purchasing recreational items like bicycles second-hand, which brings us back to the bicycle shop. While we looked at the shop’s array of new bicycles, they were far above our skill and use level—with multiple gears and vented seats and featherweight frames. We purchased a used, no-speed, foot-braked, bell-on-the-handlebars “beach bike.”

We see ourselves as leisure cyclists: casual exercisers without precise time or mileage objectives. The leisure cyclist does not have special attire—we simply get on the bike with whatever we are currently wearing. This could be a bathing suit, the clothes we were gardening in, or the outfit worn to work that day. Some might think the leisure cyclist is lazy, but this is far from the truth; we just want to ride at a pace where we can still notice the occasional gecko, the summer lemonade stands, and the charming names people have given their homes.

Our goal is not to traverse felled trees, ford streams, or jump jagged rock formations with a fancy, multi-speed mountain bike that is roughly 100 times cost of a gallon of paint on the Planet Janet MMS. Our goal is to pedal around this beautiful flat state with its graceful live oak trees, stopping now and then to chat with a neighbor. We don’t really intend to work up a sweat. Our heart rates will remain the same, unless we reach across our bicycles to hold each other’s hand, in which case they will increase. We do not ride to lose weight and become more fit, though these would be admirable outcomes.

We just want to do nothing and go nowhere in particular, the way we did as kids on our bicycles—just for the sheer thrill of it.

Janet Combs is a freelance writer living in Georgetown County. Her column is published regularly in the Georgetown Times. Contact her at https://janetfrickecombs.wordpress.com.