To unicycle or not to unicycle, that is the question

by hexacoto

“Can you help me water my plants while I’m gone?” My friend texts me, already in California.

“Sure, leave beer in the fridge!” I replied.

“There should be some left in there,” he said.

That exchange of words led me to consider now something I have never done before: Whether or not I should unicycle to a friend’s place to help him water his plants because it would rob me of precious calories; calories that cost money that I do not exactly have right now.

It’s been a week since I sent out some applications for positions at various publications and news places, and that’s probably nothing in terms of the job application process. However, considering the fact that one of the ways a freshly-graduated, but woefully-unemployed person was going to secure housing in the competitive New York City housing market was to offer to pay rent upfront. That I did, and the management company gleefully took all of a year’s worth of rent in a go.

It is as if I jumped headfirst into a noose, but instead of the sweet escape of a snappy death, I am experiencing a slow tightening of the rope around my neck as I watched my dollars and cents trickle away. Yesterday, I was relieved to have gathered $18.50 in all the loose change I’ve amassed and deposited them into the bank. That should probably buy me another two weeks worth of groceries.

No wonder I am nickel-and-joule-ing every single calorie right now.

I figured if I ate something starchy and carbohydrate-y I should be fine, right? Does unicycling in the hot sun consume more calories than if I were to do so when it is less hot? I didn’t want to be cycling in the hot sun anyway. But I couldn’t wait till it got dark, owing to the fact that I sat on my glasses and broke them a couple days prior, and can’t afford to replace them. I can’t see much save for maybe an outstretched arm’s reach distance. I mean, I can see vague shapes and lights and colours, there just isn’t any definition to anything. It’s akin to living an impressionist painting, I suppose. I am able to see traffic and all that, I should be fine. I should probably leave soon if I am going to fulfil the favour I promised my friend.

Thank goodness I stockpiled on pasta that cost eighty-eight cents a box weeks ago at the ShopRite in Midwood. Well, whatever I bought two weeks ago is going to have to last me another two or so, I fear.

For a chronically broke person, I thankfully had the luxury of choice of what pasta to cook. I chose macaroni elbows. I added some frozen carrot-and-pea mix, and some canned corn, and since I probably needed sodium and stuff, I decided to make it ‘Asian’ and used soy sauce and sesame oil. And that was breakfast/lunch. I set out for my friend’s place.

I had been unicycling for about eleven years at that point, and I am no stranger to unicycling on the streets of New York. I’ve gone both uptown and downtown Eighth Avenue during rush hours, I’ve gone through the Fashion District when trucks are unloading, and I’ve even ventured the roads of New Jersey, all on one wheel. These five or so miles are nothing to my extra-seasoned, extra-basted legs. But these five miles were the scariest five miles I’ve experienced in a while, not because of the traffic, not because I had to cycle through Bedford-Stuyvesant, but because of an unfortunate allegory playing in my head as I was cycling.

This is how it goes:

I don’t have my glasses, and I can’t see. Thus, I’ve had to pay extra close attention to the immediate patch of road in front of me, as any crack that I unknowing cycle over can potentially throw me off my unicycle. I look at my immediate front to the exclusion of many things, ignoring the pretty houses and kids playing in the park that I pass by. Aren’t I already living such a life? Taking one day at a time, worrying about whether I’ll need to spend money today or not, scarcely thinking about tomorrow. I can’t afford to think about next month or even next week, always paying close attention to my immediate present. The finer things in life can take a backseat for now.

I arrive at my friend’s place. Gee, he sure does have a lot of plants to water. I sit down and think of writing whatever I’ve thought up into a book. “This will be in a book that will make me famous!” I toyed with the idea in my head, though a thought came after, “Yea, but you won’t get to publish this book until you’re already famous.

I leave for home. Shit, I’m getting hungry. I can practically envision that pot of pasta in my stomach rapidly vanishing into the ether. “Fuel tank low! Please refuel!” cries the warning blinkers that are my stomach growls. I yearned to speed up to return home to make food, but my legs would go no faster.

“Does that thing take a lot of balance?” Some folks at the steps of my building ask me about my unicycle as I approached.

“No, just a lot of practice.” I didn’t stop to chat. I went up and made more pasta, this time with beans and tons of scallions that were three bunches a dollar in Chinatown.

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