Last weekend, we got a phone call from Darling Man's ex-wife's husband asking for an odd favor. A friend of theirs had decided to ride his bicycle across the US and was going to start out in Jacksonville. Would we be willing to put him up for a night?
As a rule, we don't invite total strangers to sleep in our house, but we said yes, we'd be happy to have Tom come stay the night.
Last night, Tom arrived. It was nearly dark and we were watching a DVR'd Avatar show and wondering if he was okay when the dog went off. Lo and behold, a muscular, but skinny stranger stood under our porchlight, with a loaded roadbike parked behind him.
I put Kida out the back door and Tom came in the front, all smiles (those biking endorphins, don't 'cha know!) . He had already eaten but accepted a low-alcohol beer. After locking up his bike on the back porch, he and Darling Man sat down to pour over maps and discuss possible routes west.
"Why are you doing this?" I asked. And he answered honestly - "It's just something I decided to do."
"What? Are you rich? How can you just take off the time to do this?" was Darling Man's question.
Tom's work is seasonal. And it hits a lull about this time of year for two or three months. So rather than spend that time sitting around in the dreary, drizzly Northwest, he decided to go somewhere sunny and start riding. Makes sense to me!
After a hot shower and a change of clothes, he came back downstairs. We had a Monopoly game already in progress (before he headed upstairs, we asked if he wanted to play and he declined) and he couldn't resist. He and ZBoy joined forces.
Now, ZBoy usually whips my butt at Monopoly, but Darling Man was off to a flying start and never let up. I wound up going to jail several times (not passing Go, and NOT collecting my $200), so I was at a disadvantage early on. I was barely hanging in. The real contest was between Darling Man and the team of ZBoy and Tom.
I finally went bankrupt around 11:30, and ZBoy and Tom put up a good fight but eventually lost all their properties, houses and money. Darling Man emerged triumphant with nearly all properties, lots of hotels and plenty of money. Too bad it's not real!
Midnight arrived and we all trundled off to bed.
I finally surfaced about 8 this morning. Tom was long gone. I found Darling Man in the kitchen washing dishes. He'd fed Tom and sent him on his way. We'd offered to drive him to the trailhead, but there's a psychological urge to connect the dots involved here. If he's going to ride across the USA, by golly, he's gonna RIDE. And apparently he sticks to his starting time as much as possible.
"I think that guy's really into Monopoly," Darling Man casually said.
"'Ya think? After the dice was rolled, he didn't even have to count. He knew exactly where their piece was going to land. And he knew how much all the rents were and how much the houses cost. Yeah. I think he likes Monopoly!"
It was fun - and as you'll see in the MY LIFE IS A MESS post (later today), Tom's visit was also a great cattle prod for me.