Of all the gin joints in all the towns
in all the world, she walks into mine.
— Humphrey Bogart, as Rick Blaine in Casablanca
As two female cyclists were riding, they turned
Into a small park, which they'd long ago learned
Was just the right place for a much-needed break.
But once they'd pulled in, Betsy yelped, "For Pete's sake!"
The loo for the ladies was closed for repair.
But Ilsa said, "Screw it. I'm going in THERE."
She yelled in the door on the gentlemen's side,
"Is anyone in here?" Nobody replied.
Her friend's needs weren't urgent; she stayed with their bikes,
And hoped no one thought she and Ilsa were dykes.
When poor Ilsa flushed and stepped out of the stall,
She saw a male standing up close to the wall,
In front of a fixture that women don't use,
His back toward Ilsa. He wore cycling shoes,
A bright yellow jersey with black lycra shorts,
Pulled down, while engaging in warm water sports.
She stood there in silence, not sure what to say.
He finished; his head turned to look Ilsa's way.
In shock, his face flushing, he yanked up his pants;
She froze like a statue, avoiding his glance.
"I'm sorry!" they moaned in a squeaky duet.
They laughed, still in sync, then he said, "Well, I'd bet
That you weren't expecting to have company,
And I'm not at all what you hoped you would see."
"I'm Ilsa," she smiled at his flippant remark.
He seemed kinda nice, well at least for a dork.
And hey... after all, this was mostly her fault.
Her smile brought his awkardness to a quick halt.
"I'm Richard," he said as he held out his hand,
Then quickly retracted it, as his eyes scanned
The room for a sink; there were two near the door.
They went there and washed without saying much more.
They wiped and then tossed paper towels away;
They looked at each other, not sure what to say.
He offered his hand; he was tentative, shy,
Embarrassed, but eager... he wasn't sure why.
When her hand touched Richard's, she felt an odd rush.
The quirky emotion (or thrill) made her blush.
'Oh stop it, you fool; please don't act like a kid,'
Said something in Ilsa's subconscious or id.
'An infatuation? That's all that we need,
For some guy you've watched half undressed while he peed?
A stranger you've met in a public park john?
For all that you know, he could be an ex-con!
This guy's not a hunk, not the man of your dreams;
He's pudgy and awkward —' Her heart said, 'He seems...
Well, sweet, and I feel that he likes me... somehow —'
Her id said, 'I think you should let him go now.'
She looked down and saw they were still holding hands.
He looked at them, too and he grinned, "No gold bands —
They're clean, plus it looks like we're single as well."
She said, "I'm divorced, but you're not; I can tell.
You've never been married; I won't ask you why.
I'd rather not tempt you to tell me a lie."
She had a quick flashback, reminding herself
Of why she had stowed her love life on the shelf.
She'd married a good looking, very cool guy.
He'd sworn that he loved her; she thought he would try
To be a good husband. She'd been a good wife,
But somehow he'd kept her outside of his life.
He spent his free time on a bike, pushing hard;
She liked riding, too, but her pleasure was marred
Because her ex-husband would never consent
To ride with her, slower, and so off he went.
Competitive, selfish, he held his fast pace,
And left her behind — no compassion, no grace.
If she had a flat, it was hers to repair;
Her ex never fixed one, 'cause he wasn't there.
There were other problems, of course, like the child
She wanted — he didn't — then one day he'd filed
The papers that told her the last seven years
Were wasted at best; she had shed a few tears.
But she'd been alone now for three years or so,
Involved with her work and her sport, on the go.
Too busy for dating, she told all her friends,
"I might ride with someone; it sort of depends..."
"On what?" She'd just shrug... they'd all trotted out guys
On rides or at parties, but quick chaste goodbyes
Were all that resulted from each quasi-date.
She'd say, "I'm not ready to seek a new mate."
Now Ilsa and Richard stood close, face to face
In what they both knew was an imperfect place
To meet, for a bike-riding woman and guy —
But something had happened... They didn't know why,
Or even quite what. As they walked to the door,
Both privately hoped it might happen some more.
Then Richard stopped, saying, "Oh wait! Let's don't go
Until I confess what I think you should know..."
She stiffened; he told her, "Please don't get all tense.
It's just... I don't know how you feel about 'bents.
Recumbents, I mean, 'cause I ride one..." He sighed.
"What kind?" Ilsa asked, and he quickly replied,
"A Lightning. It's yellow; they're made in Lompoc."
She walked out before him, then outside she spoke,
While closely examining Richard's strange wheels,
"My bike's with my friend, but I know how that feels...
"I've worried about whether someone I like
Might razz me about my bad taste in a bike.
My P38 is dark blue, frame and seat.
My front wheel is smaller than yours, but it's neat..."
They strolled 'round the corner, and Ilsa felt good;
She reached for his hand (not quite sure that she should).
When he saw her bike, Richard hugged her — SURPRISE!
Her friend's mouth popped open, like both of her eyes.
"Oh! Betsy... meet Richard." Words came in a rush.
"Don't worry about us; it's only a crush.
It can't be more serious; TRUE LOVE is blind.
But I've seen his cute, naked, hairy behind."
Poor Betsy sat speechless, a little confused;
Her buddy was blabbering, clearly enthused.
Then Betsy inquired, in a motherly tone:
"I'm sorry. Are we in a NO-THINKING zone?
"Aren't you thirty-something? You're acting like teens!
And I think we ALL know what THAT likely means.
Hormonal imbalance, emotions amok —
Have you heard the phrase: biological clock?"
Both Ilsa and Richard were giggling by then,
And Betsy was thrilled — Ilsa flirting again!
They mounted their bikes and they rode down the beach.
He stayed close to Ilsa, almost at arm's reach...
Let's cut to the chase here: This couple is wed —
Still riding together wherever life's led,
Sometimes on a tandem, but rarely apart,
And Richard loves Ilsa with mind, soul and heart.
He fixes her flats; she could do it, but hey...
It makes him feel good in some husbandly way.
They're happy — at least, you know, most of the time —
Though Richard does tease, like this part of the rhyme:
"Of all the gents' johns on this vast spinning sphere,
I walked into hers. If I hadn't, I fear
We'd never have met..." "Hah! You stalked me, I'm sure,
And pounced when I weakened and felt insecure.
You pulled down your shorts and you flashed me, you beast."
"Admit it; you liked it, a little at least..."
She'll quip: "Very little, I seem to recall,"
He'll laugh, not offended (well hardly at all).
She calls Richard Rick now, and he shares the fun.
Their daughter's named Ingrid; if they have a son,
They'll hang a U-turn from that slippery slope,
And NOT name him Humphrey or Bogey — let's hope!
... And so ends this playful discourse on the theme
Of man meeting woman — pure fate, no one's scheme.
Good timing is always one key to romance,
Like trusting your feelings and taking a chance.
Last updated Dec 26 2007