Recycled: The ‘best’ of ‘Mad Dog Unleashed’ 2017

• Editor’s note: Since my Bicycle Retailer and Industry News column won’t survive into the New Year, I’ve decided to resurrect a six-pack’s worth of this year’s “Mad Dog Unleashed” screeds between now and then. Read ’em and weep. Or giggle, or roar, whichever you prefer.

Shoes for industry!

1. Sailin’ shoes make a mutt’s little feet bark

Well, the good thing in the first race blows, and right away Hymie commences to notice that his shoes seem full of feet, for there is nothing like a loser in the first race for making a guy notice his feet.“Tight Shoes,” by Damon Runyon

By Patrick O’Grady

Writing a column that’s even marginally about bicycling in January, with the walls closing in like plastered adobe wolves, feels like running in too-small shoes.

I was still stewing over the November election, having bet on an also-ran after picking back-to-back winners, and as Damon Runyon has taught us, there’s nothing like a loser to squeeze a gambler’s shoes.

It didn’t help that my new running shoes actually did seem full of feet, though they were my usual size (9 U.S., 42 Euro). In fact, like the undersized brogans Hymie Minsk and Rupert Salsinger wore in Runyon’s short story “Tight Shoes,” they were pinching my puppies quite some, though I hadn’t even kicked anyone in the pants with them yet.

Not for lack of temptation, mind you. But I was afraid that once I got started I’d never be able to stop. A fella could wear out a couple dozen pairs of kneecaps kicking all the asses that had it coming.

I’d start with the people who design shoes. If you ever find footwear that won’t underwrite your podiatrist’s next ski vacation in the Swiss Alps, buy all you can afford, because you will never see that particular model again. Not in this lifetime.

Then I might move on to the dog, who has deduced from observing me that it’s OK to poop indoors. I occasionally joke that as a freelancer I work from a home “orifice,” but it’s actually starting to smell like one.

And finally, there’s that other mutt, the ugly orange cur who’s crapping all over the Oval Office. Definitely on the bucket list for 2020. But I don’t think a size-42 shoe is going to get within field-goal range of his big butt anytime soon. Not unless that’s the size Vladimir Putin wears.

Old dog, new trick. As it turns out, our veterinarian says our dog has an excuse for his misbehavior. In addition to simply being an old fella, Mister Boo is showing some early signs of senility, kidney disease and control issues.

The orange mutt has a few of these problems as well, especially the latter, though his vet says he’s just fine, with “astonishingly excellent” lab-test results and “extraordinary” physical strength and stamina.

But between you and me, I’ve seen his vet. There’s another mongrel I wouldn’t take to a dogfight even if I thought he had a chance to win.

Meanwhile, back at cycling. … But we were talking about cycling here, and shoes—well, I was, anyway, until you wandered off, looking for something to read.

And as regards cycling, mostly I don’t, not in January, anyway. It’s too cold outdoors, and too dull indoors. (Plus the brown truck keeps coming around, and I ain’t talking UPS here, if you get my drift.)

So when the sun shines I take a quick spin around a short circuit I’ve worked out for evaluating touring bikes, and when it doesn’t I might do a little cyclocross for auld lang syne. But mostly I run. It’s quick, it’s good for you in a real bad for you sort of way, and as Richard Pryor said in “Live In Concert,” you never know when in real life you might have to.

“If somebody pull a knife on you and you can’t pull out nothin’ but a hand with some skin on it, your intelligence ought to tell you to … run!” he said. “And teach your old lady how to run so you don’t have to go back after her ass.”

She’s got legs. I don’t have to teach my old lady to run. Herself doesn’t ride much, even in good weather, but she runs a couple-three days a week year round and has finished a couple half-marathons.

I can’t kick her ass, either, and not just because I can’t catch her. Even trying wouldn’t be prudent. She’s seven years younger than I am, gets up real early, and knows where all the knives are. And if I try to run from her, she’ll catch me.

The other day she dragged me out on a grotesquely cold morning for a run that started way too soon and way too fast and that’s when I noticed that my new shoes seemed to be full of feet for some reason.

And she knows how to use ‘em. Afterward I was stumping around El Rancho Pendejo like Long John Silver, raving about going back to the store that sold me these too-small shoes and applying them to a few tailbones with vigor and malice aforethought.

Herself snorted, and suggested that if I ever joined her at the yoga studio, or even stretched something other than a metaphor now and then, maybe a little jog wouldn’t hobble me with plantar fasciitis, which sounds like the Italian for “Donald Trump’s gardener” but is actually some sort of painful heel injury.

I replied that if she wanted a well-heeled man around the house she should’ve married the orange mutt instead of the green one.

And now for some reason my ass hurts nearly as much as my feet.

• Editor’s note v2.0: This column appeared in the February 2017 issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

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9 Responses to “Recycled: The ‘best’ of ‘Mad Dog Unleashed’ 2017”

  1. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    Great stuff as always! I wonder how much your column’s demise had to do with the general rightward tilt of the bike biz I get a whiff of now and then? Cycling’s the “new golf” as they say and you know who most of the guys out on the links tend to be….

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Thanks, Larry. There have been beaucoup cutbacks elsewhere in the organization, but I imagine that in addition to money troubles political considerations may have helped push the column over the edge. It’s hard enough to sell ads when you’re short of salespeople. It can’t be any easier with some doddering old Mad Dog limping around the yard, barking at all your prospects and pissing on their golf shoes.

  2. Pat O'Brien Says:

    To quote you, “hee and, also, haw.” That was a good one; I look forward to the rest. Besides, Herself couldn’t have married the dumpster. He doesn’t have a dog and never has had one. Not even a cat. Can’t have nasty animals jumping on the gold furniture.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Gracias, señor. Can you imagine being Beelzebozo’s dog? Every time some minion took you to the vet, you’d be begging him to put you down. “Just gimme the shot, Doc. You got no idea.”

  3. JD Dallager Says:

    Well done as always, PO’G. You have a way with the words, a “far side” creativity, and an artistic talent that most of us can only fantasize about. Looking forward to ending the year 2017 on a high note as I enjoy the rest of the best.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Thanks, JD. “Best” is always a matter of opinion, of course, and being familiar with my worst, I can assure you that best doesn’t have a real high bar to hop.

      That said, I hope to provide you with a giggle or two. If I can’t find six of 18 worth reprinting it’s time to retire.

  4. Dale Says:

    Your wife could have made another choice. Obviously she did not, so now you must realize that you are the one – you just need to suck it up, tight shoes and all.

  5. Herb Clevenger Says:

    Well as a veteran (40 years) of the bike industry I can attest that a) it’s lost its sense of humor, if indeed it ever had one b) millineals only think they “get” satire. They wouldn’t know a good joke if they heard one without Siri to explain it to them. I say we tag-team Patrick and write a novel that would put Richard Brautigan to shame and poke some fun at the very business that fed and watered us for these past years. I still think you are very funny and I mean that in a good way. I stopped reading BRAIN years ago once I found your blog.

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