After much struggle, I finished reading Tim Krabbé’s The Rider, a 1978 book about one bike race. Not knowing what a col was, I blundered through the longest sports commentary essay ever. It was a well-written sports essay, but still not my thing.
I hate sports but I have to appreciate the literary approach here. Me, I was lauded by a high school teacher for my literary sports essays when, after sitting out a PE class, I turned in two sports essays instead of the required one. Mr. H. read my essays on downhill skiing (which I was actually good at, though I needed to use the poles for better form) and surfing (which I had never tried but achingly longed to do so), and then he grimly told me that I should consider becoming a writer. So, I appreciate a fellow good sports writer.
There are three passages I wanted to note and push across the table to the world. The first is:
Belgium’s cobblestone roads were, as some Amsterdam riders put it, ‘built by the Romans, who just dumped a bunch of rocks out of a helicopter.’
Ha, ha. Pretty good, huh? I love a good stereotype.
The second quote is this:
(For a surprisingly long time I kept thinking: the race at Zichem-Keiberg was a week ago today; the race at Zichem-Keiberg was three weeks ago; and, even as I am writing, it’s been no more than a month since the race at Zichem-Keiberg…)
I had no other people marked the distance in time from memorable events like I did. That is what I find so remarkable about that sentence.
Near here there is a bridge. In early 2010, maybe it was January 26, a car crashed into a truck, which crashed into a car that crashed into another car. In one of the cars was a 37-year-old man. He had a young son of about five. He probably had a wife too. His car caught on fire and he burned to death. I passed by a few hours after his death. The spot on which he died on the bridge was blackened. Every time I crossed that bridge and passed the scene of his death, I crossed myself and thought of this man. I think of his wife too and his son. Did she get married now? Does the son remember his dad? And then I calculate. How long it’s been since his death, since the wife stopped grieving, since I last thought of that man. It’s been two years and two months since he died.
Krabbé wrote his book in 1977 and the race at Zichem-Keiberg was in March 1975. Since I don’t go over that bridge anymore, I don’t think of that burned man every day anymore. That’s how one departs from sharp feelings, as they get whittled down.
The third passage is:
Because after the finish all the suffering turns to memories of pleasure, and the greater the suffering, the greater the pleasure.
I chose this quote because it rambles on as it illustrates the Portuguese proverb “What was hard to bear is sweet to remember.” That’s what I tell myself in times of suckiness. As time now spans into a third year away from a very bad year, I am not sure that that time is sweet yet. I’ll look back at this quote in a few years’ time and decide then.
3 Comments so far
Leave a comment
Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>