He was riding a blue vintage Raleigh, but it really wasn't the bike I noticed first. As I walked out of the corner store towards my bike he glided by, with a smile and a big uprush of hair. It didn't take me long to catch up, riding behind him on Queen Street in Toronto's East End, on my way home.
I had some time to think, to devise a plan of approach, a casual introduction. I had decided that if we hit a red light, I would make a move. I had not thought of a proper opening line, since I was trying to decide if fate was playing a hand at offering only steady greens. But at last, just a block past my street, a red!
As I rolled in behind, I exclaimed, "Nice bike". I didn't have a lot of time to think of the shortcomings of this particular opener because he turned without any hesitation and replied in his very French accent, "Mikael Jackson is dead". A little startled at the news, first, because I hadn't known and second because, I thought it to be a much better opening line.
And so, off we went riding along side each other, discussing the pop star's life and times, our voices rising above the clank and whistles of Toronto's street cars.
Three years on, his blue Raleigh is still a very nice bike.