A Flamingo in Utrecht: Bicycle parking in Utrecht

A Flamingo in Utrecht: Fights and bikes

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Alison is an entrant in the 2012 “i am not a tourist” Expat Fair Blog Competition.

I awoke early this morning to the sound of a couple having an argument down on the street below. They kept at it for quite a while and as a result of that, and one of my darling little cats doing her best to drive me crazy, I never fell back to sleep. As I lay awake pondering the various fights I’ve overheard on the street, I started thinking about the fact that it’s harder to make an impressive exit from an argument when you have to bike off in a huff.

If you’re leaving in a car, you can make a big show of slamming doors, revving engines and squealing tires as you speed away in a cloud of exhaust and tire smoke. Even if you’re on foot, you can stalk away with your head held high, back ramrod straight.

But a bike. There’s nothing dramatic about making an exit after a fight when you’re on a bike. First, you probably have to unlock the thing. That’s maybe the only drama you can whip up if you manage to pull the chain free with a dramatic flourish, but then you’ve still got to wrap the thing back up or dump it in your basket or saddle bags. Even once you’re unlocked and on the bike, you can’t really peel out of there. Almost everyone has a bit of a wobble on a bike as they get up to speed. The final ignominious moment comes when your old beat-up city bike starts making squeaking, rattling noises with every pedal, mocking you the whole way.

I think the only way to overcome this and maintain some face through the whole debacle is to simply shout invectives at the other person the entire time so that they have no time to burst into laughter at the ridiculousness of the whole situation. But if you do, stick to just one language. If you start combining languages, someone — even if only the foreigners you’ve woken up — will end up laughing at you.

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