31 July 2015

Riding In Dry Heat To The Sea--And An Old "Friend"

In my youth, one of the things I did when I was trying to figure out--or, perhaps, avoid--whatever it was I was supposed to be doing was to teach English in a language institute near the UN.  

In every lesson, I would give students at least one tip on "how to sound like an American".  One--as I've mentioned in another post--is never to call the largest city in California "Los Angeles".  To us 'Murikuns, it's "L.A."

Another one of my tips was to talk about the weather.  Americans are always talking about it, I'd tell them, and that's one of the easiest ways to talk with an American--and learn everyday English.

In that vein, I'm going to say something about the weather, as I did yesterday.  It was hot today, though not quite as oppressive as the last couple of days.  But there was a huge difference:  very low humidity.  Those of you who live and ride in places like "L.A." or Arizona are probably accustomed to such conditions.  But here in the NYC Metro Area--indeed, on most of the East Coast--heat=humidity, at least most of the time.

It's weird, at least for me, to ride in 90 degree F (32C) weather without sweating. I take that back:  the body sweats, but it doesn't drip.  Rather, the beads of sweat evaporate before you can see or feel them on the surface of your skin.  Meantime, you're sucking down water or your favorite color of Gatorade or whatever your preferred libation is for bike riding.

In some way, I guess it makes sense that I'd ride to the ocean on a day like this. Specifically, I pedaled to Point Lookout:  into the wind to Rockaway Beach, balancing the wind on my right side to the Point and on my left side back to Rockaway and, finally, with the wind at my back from Rockaway Beach.

The tide was in, so the sandbars and many of the rocks I've seen on previous rides were submerged.  However, I did get a glimpse of an old friend:

He's at the center of the photo.  Look closely and you can see--no, not Jaws

but the Point Lookout Orca!

I hadn't seen him in a while. Whatever he (somehow I think he's male) is, he deserves the same respect accorded other mysterious aquatic and amphibious creatures like the Loch Ness Monster.  I think he prefers that to being compared to Pac-Man:

Hmm...Could the inventor of that iconic video game have been working from some Jungian archetype?  Could that person have had the Point Lookout Orca in his or her subconscious without realizing it?

Whatever Point Lookout Orca is, he's never chased me.  I guess I'm not as tasty as the crustaceans and bivalves he can find in those waters.  After all, who ever paid $100 for a plate of me?  Orca, on the other hand, gets to eat what's served in the city's most expensive restaurants--for free.

And I get to have a great ride without breaking a sweat.  It all works out sometimes.


  1. To us outside the NYC cocoon, LA is either Los Angeles County or Louisiana. The incorporated city of Los Angeles consists of various places such as Hollywood, Canoga Park, Marina Del Rey, and San Pedro. Some think Venice is part of the formation as well. However, LA is only a city to people that don't live within its official limits.

    BTW, LA is the most populous county in the U.S.

  2. Hi Steve--You're absolutely right on all counts. However, whenever a person says "L.A." , he or she almost always means Los Angeles. I've never heard anyone refer to Louisiana as "L.A." (Then again, I am in the NYC cocoon!)

    Also, I think the pauses or periods after each letter differentiate "L.A." from "LA"--which, in turn, is different from the feminine singular definite article in French, Spanish or Italian!