>Those were the days, I tell you! After spending an afternoon removing all the accessories from my new beach cruiser bike with counter pedaling brakes, things like fenders, chainguards, and the rear carrier which allowed you to, supposedly, carry groceries or school books.
My two best friends Chico and Edson and I, would go riding for hours on what some say is one of the longest gardens in the world (over 3 miles of gardens) with its endless curving pathways, statues and monuments. The equally long beach on one side and the busy main avenue on the other .
We would also go up and down the canals which are lined with jambolão trees (a type of plum, also known as jambolan or jamun in English) which were over 100 years old. The city has 19 canals, though the only ones that “really matter” were the 7 which empty on the beach and the serve as a reference for any place you want to go in town.
Navigation was always in reference to the canals, as in “Take Canal 3 and turn on Mario Carpenter, then take a right at Ana Costa and we will meet you at Brunella (a confectioner’s shop with delicious treats).”
We would ride up and down the gardens for hours on end. And during those rides we would discuss all the important issues of the day. We would discuss our bikes and small improvements made and which was the best lubricant: oil or grease. Soccer was always a mandatory discussion. Amazingly all three of us supported different teams which frequently led to heated debates. We would discuss music, with profound topics such as whether or not Madonna or Cindy Lauper were the real deal – most of us thought Lauper was and Madonna would just fade away after one or two hits.
And then we would discuss women. Well it was not really a discussion. It was more of a liturgy. Edson was the older (by a year) and therefore wiser of us, having snuck a peak or two at his older brother’s Playboy collection would regale us with forbidden knowledge.
The conversations would frequently begin with him intoning in a near whisper: “I read on Playboy that girls like that.” At which point he would proceed to explain to us what “that” was. Chico and I would nod and agree without any hesitation, and without the faintest clue as to what he was referring to. Chico was the resident skeptic since he had 2 older sisters, and would frequently question Edson’s wisdom. Eventually we all agreed that sisters were not girls, as such, and therefore were not to be included in generalities about girl behavior. Edson would intone his ‘misa est’ by proclaiming “Girls are strange.”
So much misinformation and sheer urban legends! But somehow a couple of things survived from all of these talks: one, women were to be handled very very carefully since they were highly flammable; two, the great danger made them have great value. Women to us three boys biking around a huge garden, were the most precious and desirable and scary things in the world. Second only to our bikes and soccer, or course.