The Laughing Hyena Boy of Self-Conciousness

I was laughed at on my ride home yesterday evening. Part of my commuting route takes me past a local inner-city high school. On most days I avoid the school during peak traffic hours, and yesterday was no exception. I was riding beyond the “school zone” when I approached a group of upstanding young lads (sarcasm). The shortest and pudgiest of this group (anyone who has ever gone through high school knows one of these kids) stops in the middle of the street as I maneuver around the group, giving them plenty of room since half of them were not paying attention to what was going on in their immediate environment. This kid who stopped points at me and gives this heinous, hyena-esque laugh. As soon as I pass them, he turns and continues on his way.

Now, having the benefit of being an intuitive fellow, I was able to recognize this laugh for what it was: nothingness. But my other cycling brethren may not be so lucky. While I was able to discern that this is simply the standard, malicious sort of behavior exhibited by most males in the 12-15 age range (not to say it doesn’t get better after), and that this sub-sect of the human species is very well capable of getting inside someone’s head with such actions, it did not get to me.

Young boys have the distinct ability to act in such a way that one’s greatest doubts of self-consciousness will come out. I am confident that this kid had no reason for laughing AT me (I wasn’t even wearing my neon yellow windbreaker), but he was simply all “hopped up on pixie sticks” and goofing around like young lads do. Still, this sort of behavior has the tendency to slip inside someone’s head and cause them to seriously doubt every facet of their existence.

OR, maybe he did, in fact, have a reason for laughing so violently at me and now I need to go buy all new cycling gear to make myself look cool. Uh oh…here we go.


  1. Moe

    I’ve been heckled more than a few times by silly teenagers driving around. I totally ignore them, although I’ve been tempted to throw stink bombs inside their cars…

  2. Val

    When I was touring in the Netherlands, I used a stuff sack for my sleeping bag made of bright green tent fabric. I carried it on my handlebars, and when I made it I decided to make it as aerodynamic as possible by sewing it in a cone shape. I looked like a giant green turnip poking out between my brake levers. Everywhere I went, children and adults would point and laugh. I suppose that it should have been obvious to me, but it took a while before I realized that most of them were making quite obscene comments in Dutch, and getting tremendous amounts of amusement out of the whole thing. Me, I just enjoyed the attention; if they’re laughing, they must have seen me, and being seen is the most important part of bike safety. It felt good to bring smiles to so many faces, and know that I was protecting myself at the same time.

  3. RL Policar

    When I would pick up or drop my kids off with my Xtracycle, equipped with Sweetskin tires, the kids at the school…much like the pudgy punk would ALWAYS make comments…”oooh do those tires make you feel coo? Do they make you go faster? hahahah”….so one day he felt brave and said that to me in front of his friends and I simply said to him….”what are you talking about, I got these off your bike!”

    I don’t think he expected me to say something back…but that actually made him shut up for good. Since then he never commented about the bike.

  4. Smudgemo

    ?what are you talking about, I got these off your bike!?

    Sweet! I normally don’t like to punk kids like that, but sometimes they’ve just got it coming.

  5. Marrock

    ?what are you talking about, I got these off your bike!?


  6. Mike

    Not a bicycle, but a motorcycle, a Honda Hawk 400 beater. Dropped my son off to elementary school on my way to work, and an insouciant 3rd grader says, “My dad says Hondas suck!”
    “Yeah, what kind of bike does your dad have?”
    “A Harley!”
    “When’s the last time he dropped you off at school on his Harley?”

    Apparently that would be about… never. You’d have thought I just squashed all his Cheet-Os. Heh. I felt 1% bad about it for about a split second.

  7. RL

    Mike, as funny as it is…you just probably made that little boy cry and when he saw his dad at night he asked…”how come you never drop me off on you Harley at School? A kid was dropped off by his dad on a HONDA!”

  8. Adrienne

    Sometimes it’s not so much maliciousness as ineptness. I was crossing the Arizona State University campus yesterday around noon and encountered a line of about eight guys walking abreast, blocking the entire pathway, paying NO attention to what was around them. In my perkiest loud-but-not-obnoxious voice, I said “hello!” — the law here calls for an audible alert when overtaking pedestrians, and I have no bell. Silence. Then I “verbally alerted” them again. Silence. About three feet from them I stopped, the better not to mow at least two of them down. Then they looked up, and one of them disengaged partially from his IPOD and said, “Uh, hello yourself!”. Then they laughed, to show themselves, and any one within earshot who they thought might care, that they really had the upper hand. And they proceeded on their way.

    I wonder what would have happened if I had been driving one of those little golf carts that some staff use for getting around on campus.

  9. RL


    You should have used your Kung Fu moves and MADE them get out of the way!

  10. James

    Blast through them with mm to spare and scare the *&^ out of them! If you warn them, they’re likely to step INTO your way.

  11. Nicolas Marchildon


    Try screaming this: “Get out of the way, I’ve got no braaaakes!”


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