I upset Susan yesterday when I told her how on the ride home last night after hearing something deragatory shouted at me I doubled back on my bike to the four kids all wearing white t-shirts and blue jeans sitting at the bus stop at Washington and West boulevards.

Susan does not like when I do things like this, and would probably rather not hear about them. I would hazard most people won’t think it a very wise decision. But I did it, arriving beside the bench where without any hostility I begged their pardon but I didn’t quite hear what had been shouted at me.

The oldest and tallest of the bunch asked back “What do you think I said?”

“It sounded like you said ‘Get your bike off the road.'”

And the four of them snickered.

“If that’s not what you said, what was it?”

And they didn’t answer. So I looked at the oldest and tallest of the quartet and I asked “You don’t think bikes belong on the streets?”

He asked “What?” and I repeated and he looked at me pointedly and said “No I don’t think bikes belong on the streets, but I didn’t tell you to get your bike off the road.”

“Well, what did you tell me?”

He moved his head in a big indignant circle and said, “I said ‘You lost the race!'”

And then the youngest and the smallest turned to me and said “And he called you a faggot!” The two middle-sized cackled too hard.

And the oldest and the tallest sternly told the youngest and the smallest “Don’t make me come over there and comb your hair!” and then to me he said “I didn’t say ‘faggot.” I said “You lost the race, buddy!”

“What race are you talking about?” I asked and he just shrugged his shoulders.

“He called you a faggot!” the youngest and the smallest looked right at me and said.

“Whether he did or not,” I said, “you’re the one calling me one now, aren’t you?” and she giggled and turned away.

“Look,” I said, “Not that you give a damn, but I’ve been jacked up, put down, crowded out, hemmed in, yelled to, spit on, thrown at and all because I’m on a bike trying to get from point A to point B. And you disrespecting me either with what I think I heard or what you say you said is just the cherry on top of a big scoop of bullshit.”

The oldest and the tallest as well as the two middle-sized listened pretty intently and were silent when I finished my little diatribe, but the youngest and the smallest waited a beat then yelled out “faggot!” again, and they all laughed and I knew it wasn’t just a mistake turning around but a lost cause trying to talk common sense with these overgrown toddlers in baggy denims and bus passes.

“Stupid me: You win!” I said and that stopped their braying and they watched as I pulled my bike past them to the corner, down the disabled access apron and back onto the road.

“I should have known better than to waste your valuable time, but it’s kind of funny you calling me the loser when I’m the one going where and how I want to and you’re the one sitting here going nowhere hoping for a bus.”

And the two middle-sized went “Ooooooooo!” as if allotting me a consolation point and I said “Enjoy the wait, kids” and  got rolling. Halfway down the block the oldest and the tallest yelled something at my back that sounded spiteful but I couldn’t make out and in return I gave him back my own special version of the peace sign as I continued down the road.

In the time it took me to get to Vermont no bus had passed me.