"St. Pete or Bust! 2000" story # 4

Clearwater Beach, Florida           September 19, 2000

I'll have you know, I once took third place in a regional spelling bee in junior high school. Third place...in the WHOLE REGION!!! That's pretty good. And I should've done even better - if not for that enigma of the English language, the word "preeminent."
     In addition, I'm a creative writing major at college (and a damn good one at that, I might add!). The point is I'm a good speller and I, thus, would presumably be able to spell my own self-given name.
     ...think again. It seems "Oddyseus" (as I've been spelling it) had originally been written "Odysseus" by Homer. Aaah, makes sense now. But, in light of the fact that I chase puffins and eat so much ice cream, I guess "Odd" belongs in my name somewhere. So, Oddyseus will remain the preeminant way to spell. (or is that "preeminent?" ...for pete's sake, who even cares? That's the first time I've ever even used it in a sentence other than, "Priemmenint is a messed-up, worthless word that cost me my only chance to go to the Michigan State Spelling Bee and make my mom proud, and I hate that cursed word with all my heart and soul - and who needs it, anyhow!?") Where was I? Oh, yeah. Oddyseus it is!

My bike-trips to Clearwater Beach are often regarded as the most odd activity that I do. People practically faint when they hear about them, because it's fifty miles round-trip to Clearwater. I don't find this odd at all. My mom bikes similar distances. Heck, so does even Pansyckas!
     I detest exercise. A weight-room is my version of hell. I guess this is why my bike-trips shock people. I'm very American in that I enjoy a good ol' car or escalator or elevator to keep me from ever having to walk some ridiculous distance of more than a half-mile or having to climb a set of stairs or two. Unfortunately, I can't hitchhike to Clearwater Beach, so I have to take the bike.
     In order to minimize my strain from any bike trip (and also to keep it interesting), I've instituted a "no-brakes" policy. I figure brakes are completely counter-productive to pedaling, and using them only makes for more exercise. When crossing a busy street, I do my best to dodge the oncoming traffic. Only when it's absolutely necessary do I move my hand toward the brakes, and only when the oncoming car won't stop for me out of pity (for my apparent stupidity) do I actually press them. It's like a real-life game of Pac-Man, except with lots more ghosts and they sometimes scream curses at you. Luckily, I'm the best Pac-Man player I know.
     I once biked to Clearwater and back while only using my brakes one time...and I only fell off my bike two times. I'm especially proud of this because the county I live in is the most-populous in all of Florida, so I have to cross busy streets about three times every mile. On second thought, I don't exactly know if this is the most-populous county or not. I only know that we use more water than any other county in Florida. This isn't surprising, because Florida's very hot and our county is maniacal enough to have a 57-mile bike trail through it to promote sunstroke.
     I guess the trail exists so people can get in shape. However, no matter how much roller-blading or walking or biking that they do, being as they're American, many people on the trail are quite fat. It's amazing. Honestly, some of these people must've eaten a whole half-gallon of ice cream before they began to exercise - oh, wait a minute, what am I talking about? That was me (Breyer's Chocolate Rainbow). I probably eat more than all of them, so I can't cast any blame. But I wouldn't anyway. Let's face it: there's only one reason to stay thin, and that's so you can better attract cute members of the opposite sex . Health, shmealth. If eating a cupcake a day is going to take a year off my life, so be it! I'm not going to be kissing any cute girls when I'm 82, anyways.

I went to Clearwater Beach today. I used the brakes a very shameful twelve times on the way there. But on the way back, thanks to some nifty tire-work, I broke only twice during Rush Hour traffic. This was very difficult to accomplish, nearly as difficult as the 222,020 points I once got in my greatest-ever game of Pac-Man. (Just try to beat that score, I dare you!) My only accident came when I was biking off a bridge's railing in a construction zone. My front tire went directly down, while everything else kept going forward and I flew shoulder-first into some dirt. This made me dirty for the rest of the day, but it was also very fun, as most dirty activities are. My purpose for visiting Clearwater Beach was to play in waves caused by Tropical Storm Gordon.
     The day before, I'd gone to St. Pete Beach to play. The ocean level had risen to flood many roads in the area, and gargantuan waves marched on the ocean for as far as the eye could see. I tried body-surfing on the eight-foot swells, but mostly I just got tossed around by the ocean's incredible power. My legs and arms were thrown all out of proper synchronization, and I felt like a marionette in the hands of a toddler. I was held under water for long periods of time - sometimes, I'd go for twenty seconds with no part of me above the water except for my feet. It all felt incredibly fun and nauseating. ...Come to think of it, nearly every really fun activity involves a high degree of nausea. How odd for those two things to be related.
     At Clearwater, the waves were smaller. A lot of junk had washed near shore from the tropical storm, and it was impossible to wade without stepping on unpleasant things made of shells and various goo. I never checked to see what I was stepping on, but I'll offer a few guesses: some crabs that tried to pinch me, an alligator, the beak of a giant squid, coiled sea-monkey tails, Blackbeard the pirate's hidden treasure chest, a sea squirt, the preserved skeleton of a wooly mammoth, and the rock-hard heads of a species of animal I call "lava-goblin" which lives at the center of the earth and only comes to the surface after tropical storms and other natural disasters in the hope that all the humans have died. But, I was able to ignore this junk and enjoy the body-surfing. I rode a few waves perfectly, which gave me the feeling of being a human javelin.
     When I left the water, I was both dirty (from the junk) and nauseous - twice, I even thought I might throw up. I was glad I'd came.

Laidur, Moddurn Ohdicius

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