By CJ Gronner
The hills are alive … with the sound of bike bells! Everybody! You are not going to BELIEVE this! So … pretty much everyone knows I had my bike stolen last month and that it was very sad for me. Really. I’d never had a bike stolen, not even as a kid, so I didn’t know how bad it felt, especially for someone who is constantly on hers. I would like to apologize now to anyone who ever told me their bike had been stolen that maybe I didn’t give deep enough sympathy to. It sucks.
So then I got mad, and thought, I’m telling everyone about this and I’m getting that bike back. I don’t know if I really thought I would, but I was sure going to try. I wrote an article about my loss and the state of crime affairs in Venice (see below) and the Free Venice Beachhead put it on the front page of that beloved local paper.
Walking down the streets, people would yell, “Sorry about your bike!” or “I’ve got my boys looking out for your bike, if she’s in Venice, you’ll get her back.” A friend in Minnesota even wrote me to say he’d looked on LA’s Craig’s List to see if anything matching her description came up (Thanks, dear John Evans!). It was nice to know that people even still cared about such things, to be honest. But Delores was still gone.
Well … Blogtown is now THRILLED to report that we have our first neighborhood victory, and that our faith in humanity is RESTORED!!! OK … so last Saturday I came home and checked my email quick for an address to a party I was attending. At the top of my inbox was a message from Jim Smith with a subject line saying “DELORES ALERT!” WHAT?! I got chills before I even clicked it open. Inside, it said, “A reader called to say he thinks he knows where your bike is. Call Peter at #310…….”. I let out a scream with a pitch that drew dogs, and dialed Peter immediately.
A guy answered and I explained who I was and that I’d written the article in the Beachhead and understood he might have info on my stolen bike. He said that about a month ago, a guy came riding up to him and asked if he wanted to buy the bike he was riding for $40 (um … Delores would hate to know how cheaply she’d been sold for, so let’s keep that to ourselves). Peter asked if it was stolen, as he had a feeling it was, but the guy said of COURSE not. Peter and his girlfriend, Nancy, had both recently had THEIR bikes stolen, and were in need, so he bought ol’ Delores for the 40 bones. He said the guy was Caucasian, mid to late 30’s, salt and peppery hair that was kinda curly, decently/cleanly dressed, and a little jittery, “like he parties a lot”. I don’t think I know the guy, but look out for him and LOCK your bikes, or better yet, bring them inside. Peter thought he might steal a bike in the Marina, ride it to Venice, sell it to someone there, steal a Venice one and ride it to the Marina, try to sell it to someone he’d just stolen one from, and repeat. Supply and Demand. Quite a racket. Thief.
Then the plot thickened. Peter said he had Delores for a few weeks (“She rides great”. I know.), and then this OTHER guy came up and said, “Hey, that’s my bike. It got stolen a few weeks ago.” LIAR!! But Peter didn’t know that, so he said he’d bought her from some guy for $40, and sorry about that. The guy said he’d give him $20 to get her back. When Peter hedged about that, the guy shrugged and had the nerve to say, “Karma”! So they each were out $20, but the bike was back where she belonged. Or so Peter and Nancy thought.
Cut to: Last weekend, Peter and Nancy are enjoying breakfast aboard the boat they live on in the Marina, reading the friendly neighborhood paper, The Beachhead. The title Jim put on “Help! My Bike Has Been Kidnapped!” caught their attention and they read the article. Peter said to Nancy, “I think that was this girl’s bike”. He noted the stickers, etc … and was practically sure, so he TOOK THE TIME to track down a number for The Beachhead, where someone passed him on to Jim, who emailed me, who called Peter and jumped around and screamed like a Jonas Brothers fan-girl. I described every detail to him, and he’d been waiting for me to tell him about the seat, which is pretty distinctive, with inlaid black flame etching on it, and when I said that, he said, “It’s your bike”. There was just one problem … he hadn’t seen the guy who took her in a few days. We talked a bit more, he laughed at my total and absolute glee, took my number and said he’d call as soon as he saw the guy again. We hung up and I called my Mom, who said I sounded exactly like I did when I was excited about something at the age of 5. That whole night I told the story of the almost-return of sweet Delores.
Then three days went by. I left messages for Peter, un-returned. I started to get a sinking feeling, like, “Oh, NO. PLEASE don’t let this be a person who was messing with me, because that would be really, really dark.” I did not want to believe that would even be possible. Finally, I couldn’t take the not knowing anymore, so had my dear friend Nathan call up so it would be a different number calling. Peter answered and explained to Nath that he hadn’t seen the guy since we’d spoken and was feeling kind of nervous about it, and having gotten me all excited, but would call the minute he saw him again. I started to feel nervous too, like so close, but no Delores cigar-ette (both her namesakes were red-headed smokers, by the by. No nonsense broads).
Only about an hour or two passed, and my sweet friend Erinn came by to go to lunch with me. As we were getting up to leave, Nathan’s phone rang. It was Peter, saying he saw the guy RIGHT NOW, and to come right away. One look at Erinn, who said, “I’m not missing this, I’ll drive!” So Nathan, Erinn and I piled into her car and sped to the Marina. Peter said to turn down Mindanao, so we took the right and rolled by slow, like gangstas. All of a sudden, I said, “Oh my gosh, I think that’s Delores!” It was like (um, kind of) when you hear of kidnapped kids being returned and they’re not sure it’s them at first, they look different, but you just KNOW. She was parked next to a scary rusty red van, looking naked and vulnerable. We then saw a guy in one of those sun-hats with the drawstring, waving his arms over his head. We pulled in and pulled up to him, and I said out the window, “Are you Peter?” He was, and he said, “She’s right over there”, pointing to the van and who I correctly thought was Delores. I had chills all over again. I jumped out and hugged him and his sweet girlfriend, who were all smiles, and could not have been nicer. They didn’t want any money, they just wanted to see a little justice, and make someone’s day, as they knew how it felt to get a bike stolen themselves. AHHH, the HUMANITY!!! In a good way.
A slightly different story was unfolding on the other side of the van. Nathan is a pretty straight-forward fellow, and he walked directly over there and said to the guy standing there, “Mate, this is my friend’s bike, and I’m taking it now.” The guy was not having it and said he was owed $20 and she wasn’t going anywhere until he got it. Nathan said, “It’s not your bike, it’s hers standing right over there, and there’s an article in the paper to prove it.” Basically, SEE YA.
He walked Delores over to me, and sure enough, it was her. Her basket was gone, her lock was gone, her bell was gone, her stickers had been scraped off, except for partial Heal The Bay, and the Obama one was still there, cool and collected, like the Man himself. Oh, and he’d also added some gross pigeon feathers or something to the front, which were immediately stripped away. After a good scrub, new basket, new bell, and lots of love, I am confident she will recover from her traumatic DOUBLE-theft experience.
I was seriously over-joyed, insisting that we get our photo together, and as they wouldn’t accept any money, Peter Anston and Nancy D’Aquino will soon be the recipients of one of my Key Lime Pies, which we will eat on their boat and talk about the GOOD in people over. Alan, the one who said it was his bike, will not be getting any pie, but by the end of it all, he wanted in on a photo too. Hilarious. When he came over to keep complaining about his $20, Peter said, “So we both paid $20 to do the right thing”, and then turned the tables on ol’ Alan, shrugged, and said, “Karma”. INDEED.
I hugged Peter and Nancy hard, and said, “You have made a lot of peoples’ days with this”. But they did more than that … they helped me to REALLY know that there is still GOOD out there. That lots of people still want to do the right thing. That a sense of COMMUNITY really IS alive and well out here … and that we truly are all in it together. And that feels so, so great.
I gotta go now … there is about to be a One Bike (DELORES!!!) Parade, up and down the Venice Boardwalk, smiling and waving to announce her return. Honestly, if this can happen in Venice, ANYTHING can!! ONE LOVE!
*Deep and heartfelt THANKS to Jim Smith & The Free Venice Beachhead, and the wonderfully darling Peter Anston and Nancy D’Aquino!!! Surface and begrudging thanks to that dude Alan.