Jocelyn Buttstrong


By mistake, I went on a 14-mile bike ride the other day.

It’s not like I was transferring the sheets from washer to dryer, only to suddenly look down and note with a surprised “How the hell did this happen?” that I’d been spinning along on a bike for more than an hour.

That’s improbable on several fronts, the least of which is that I suddenly found myself aboard a two-wheeler. In truth, the greater improbability is that I’d actually be washing sheets. That would imply I’d stripped a bed. And if it ain’t March, and the buds aren’t burgeoning on the trees, and the children haven’t just been cut out of the long underwear I sewed them into last November, then the beds ain’t been stripped.

However, I did, knowingly and willingly, lead my unsuspecting bicycle out of the garage last week, set it on an uphill course, and throw my leg over the seat. Yes, I was in complete possession of my faculties.

Or so it seemed for the first 45 minutes. My route took me along the outer edge of town, up a road named Unrelentingly Upwards Avenue. As I churned along, I played around with the gears, cursed my jumping derailleur every now and then, coughed loudly and frequently to let the black bears know I was around (the next day was garbage pick-up day in the ruralish neighborhood, which meant it was Bear Buffet Night at the trash cans), made up NPR stories that I might have heard, had I worn my headphones (for awhile, I pretended Terry Gross was interviewing Marilyn Manson, but then he shifted from seeming surprisingly informed and intelligent and just got creepy and annoying when he started to make the case for his 38-year-old married self having an affair with a 19-year-old). As the wheels spun ’round and ’round, I was definitely getting a healthy dose of Fresh Air.

But then darkness fell with a heavy thud. Out there, feeling quite alone–except for the ginormous 4 x 4 trucks that would speed by every few minutes, blasting me to the shoulder–I started to feel a little quivery. In addition to pedaling and coughing, I burst out occasionally with quick, audible pep talks: “Just 4 million more cranks of the legs, girl, and you’ll be at the stop sign, turn left, pedal another mile, hit the next stop sign, turn downhill, and head towards the park. You can do it! And then you’ll be home for eggs and bread and chocolate and a lovely White Russian.”

It was really dark, though. All efforts at pep talks fell flat. I almost stopped caring about Russians of any color. Except the Red ones. Them, I still felt for.

Then not only my hands fell asleep, as is their wont when I bike, but my vajayjay got that bad tingle. And yes, there are bad vajajay tingles. The journey to crotch numbness begins with a single spoke, turning endlessly in the night.

Now I know people who are real bike riders find 14 miles to be nothing. Doing a hundred miles in a day is realistically very doable for even a slightly-above average Joe.

However, I’m not gifted, physically, and I grew up in a family where we didn’t leave the house much. Sure, there was the mail checking and all, but because retrieving OPERA MONTHLY from the mailbox is the closest I ever got to summer camp, I still have a pretty steep learning curve with this outdoorsy physical stuff.

Let’s put it this way: I went kayaking this summer (for the 5th time in my life), and I had to cry a little bit. The paddle just didn’t do what it was supposed to. And the kayak didn’t move right. So I got frustrated and boo-hooey.

The good news about me and out-of-doors tears is that I pretty much just need to let them blow through, and after the catharsis, I can gird my loins, or spray skirt, and get back down to business. Then, when it’s all over, I want to go again. And, yea, when I go again, I’ll most likely cry some more. It’s what I do. It’s who I am.

So there I was, in the pitch black, pedaling and pedaling, getting really tired and realizing I still had a long ways to go. Or at least I thought I did; I hadn’t ever actually biked this route before and was working from some half-digested directions given to me by my Groomeo back at the house as I snapped on my helmet and double-knotted my shoes. A little uncertain of where I was, and craving a large order of French fries, I started to feel like it might be time for a few tears, simply as a kind of on-the-road therapy. Interestingly, though, I couldn’t tap into any tears. How strange. It was almost as if nothing felt quite right, and I really wanted it to be over, but, hell, what could I do about all that? Just keep pedaling, really.

Even when I came to a junction and, in the inky blackness, felt my way off the paved road, onto the gravel road that was supposed to signify the downhill turn towards home…and I realized I couldn’t see the trees around me on the even-more-remote unpaved road and that I was constantly weebling into the ditch without knowing it until I would experience a thump and the ground falling away, again and again…and that I would have to turn around and retrace my route, back on the paved roads, thus lengthening my “fun exercise time” by an extra 40 minutes–even after all that, I still didn’t cry.

It was starting to look like I might just knuckle down and do this thing, sans the requisite two-minutes of weeping. How odd, indeed. As a gal who’s generally well in touch with her own drama, I’m not at all accustomed to pragmatic matter-of-factness.

So there were no tears, even though I was a reewy, reewy wong way fwom home, aww awone, twying not to hit the hungry bearsies.

Instead, I sang. Much like Avril Lavigne, though lacking a pair of Converse high-tops and heavy eye liner, I used singing to vent my angst. As long as I was belting out the tunes, I didn’t have to wipe my eyes with my sleeve.

So I sang. What surprised me was my source material. Certainly, I didn’t sing any Avril Lavigne. In case you didn’t know, she’s a talentless idiot who sucks. Nor was it the work of Beverly Sills that gave me heart that night, despite my upbringing; rather, it was the work of Alison Moyet during her Yaz (Yazoo to you in the UK) years.

Indeed, ’80s pop saved the night. As an ode to the darkness, I sang “Midnight.” As a tribute to my beloved Groom, whom I might never, ever see again–what with it being 8 p.m. on a Sunday and me 4 miles from home on a fully-functioning bicycle–I sang “Only You.” Goodness, but I wasn’t out in the country, all alone, cold, tired, bonky and a little sore. Nae! I was transported back to my dorm room in college, watching the old LP spin around the turntable, having just cooked up 9 cents’ worth of Ramen noodles in the illegal hot pot on my desk. It was just me, my back-combed bangs, my shoulder pads, and my Yaz.

Sadly, due to all the diet pop I drink, my brain is riddled with Nutrasweet holes, so pretty quickly I ran out of lyrics.

Thus, by the time I reached the homestretch back in town–the last two miles home–I was a little hoarse, repeating the same eight lines over and over, alternating huffed croaking with wild hand shaking, as I tried to restore blood flow to my paws. Over the sound of my stomach growling and my crotch protesting (she’s a screamer, that one!), I realized that my attempts at fitness had rendered me just the teensiest bit pathetic.

Not even Marilyn Manson would have dated me at that moment.

But I like to think Terry Gross, admiring my fortitude, empathizing with my crotchiness, might have.





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35 responses to “Jocelyn Buttstrong”

  1. Tai Avatar

    Ditch weebling with a protesting crotch.
    This post is a true illumination into the woman we know as Jocelyn.

    Truly. So keep riding that bike and singing at the top of your lungs, it’s wonderful!

  2. lime Avatar

    hey you read my bik etrip posts this summer. youknow that i endured a single 70 mile day on the bike after everyone else had already pedalled 1000. that youonly had a short lived bout with tears and then found yourself singing (aching vajayjay and all) the rest opf the way whiel dodging bears is pretty damned impressive. i didn’t cry but i found myself thinking i had taen the athletic equivalent of a jeckell/hyde type potion and so did the others riding near me. i could tell because they began to keep long distances between us in case my head started spinning and i spat pea soup.

    the memory of my snarling self and exploding thighs salutes the singing jocelyn of benumbed hoohaws!

    and yes, terry gross woudl be proud.

  3. Hammer Avatar

    That sounds like one of my nightmares. glad you made it home ok. Singing works for me too.

  4. Her Grace Avatar
    Her Grace

    Get a headlamp for that bike!

    Hope you’ve recovered. You’re a better woman than I.

  5. heartinsanfrancisco Avatar

    Oh, yikes, Jocelyn. I can’t believe you didn’t call Groom on your cell (tell me you didn’t scuttle it like ballast) in the pitch dark night to come and get you.

    You have guts and moxie as well as a very sore v-j-j.

    Since I ride a mountain bike and not one of those super-light street bikes that the folks in fancy duds use, I rarely ride more than a few miles at a time. You have put me to shame, and I hope you’re happy.

    Very glad the three little bears didn’t have a yen for Goldilocks en bicyclette.

  6. kimber the wolfgrrrl Avatar
    kimber the wolfgrrrl

    I thought I was the only person who experienced out-of-doors tears! Mostly mine come when I’m attempting to ski, because it’s so damn frustrating and I can’t move my legs right because I’ve got a pair of bloody annoying skis strapped to my feet, but yes! I understand!

    Glad you got home safe!

  7. Lisa Avatar

    My butt hurts just reading this. But you made it home! I admire your continuance. I would have used my cell and had someone come and get me.

  8. actonbell Avatar

    As usual, I thought a million things while reading this most excellent post, but don’t know where to start.
    Terry Gross definitely would have admired you. When you mentioned Avril L, I thought of how often I heard that damn song that goes “…isn’t anyone trying to find me?”
    I loved your opening! That does describe the feeling I sometimes have when early morning is actually achieved:)

  9. Jocelyn Avatar

    Just a little addendum:

    We aren’t really cell phone people. As in, I don’t have one with me, as a general rule. We have on that we take on road trips, and in a case of flukiness, I did have it along that night, but when I considered calling my husband to come get me, I knew it would entail him also packing up two kids at bedtime and dragging them out to look for me…

    so I sucked it up and pretended to be an adult.

    Generally speaking, though, the idea of “just using my cell” is laughable, as I never have a phone on me. We use empty tin cans linked with string to call the neighbors sometimes, though.

  10. Anonymous Avatar

    Okay, so the real key to this post is Alison Moyet.

    “Only You” will get a girl through anything.

    For those of you who forgot or never heard the 80s:

    Looking from the window above
    Its like a story of love.
    Can you hear me?
    Came back only yesterday,
    Moving farther away.
    Want you near me.

    All I needed was the love you gave.
    All I needed for another day
    And all I ever knew;
    Only you.


  11. Star Avatar

    I would have cried. Definately. I took my grandson apple picking ast weekend, and reinforced the knowledge that Nature Girl I am not.

  12. rak Avatar

    love that “only you” song… but I only know the cover by Joshua Radin (i think). maybe i’ll use it next time i’m in a frightful situation, alone.

    you must have been wearing your “i’m determined” pants that night… coincidence? i think not!

  13. Claire Avatar

    For Groomeo’s sake I hope the vajayjay healing time was swift.
    Way to ‘take it like a man’!

  14. Dorky Dad Avatar
    Dorky Dad

    Kayaking? You went kayaking and didn’t invite ME? I LOVE kayaking. If only I could convince The Wife to get me one …

    I’ve done this before. Not in black bear-riddled rural areas but I have found myself far from home in the darkness. Kinda scary …

  15. geewits Avatar

    All I can say is, I’m impressed. Okay and you should probably wash your sheets more often.

  16. oreneta Avatar

    That Yas album is awesome…we came across it last year in a aremote spot…and enjoyed it enormously. Bicycling crotch? Not fun…

  17. choochoo Avatar

    I once wandered into a class on tree perservation by mistake. By the time I realized, I was trapped…

  18. Jazz Avatar

    Jocelyn, I love you.

    That’s all.

  19. Franki Avatar

    jocelyn ~ you are a brave warrior! and like the others, i can’t stop thinkin about your v-j-j.

  20. Princess Pointful Avatar
    Princess Pointful

    I, too, have a tendency to spontaneously do something inspired with not enough forethought. Reminds me of the time I set off to go for a hike in a really large park… but walked 5km down a dirt road behind the park because I couldn’t find the entrance. When I finally got in the park, I just had to turn back and go the way I came- to find out that the entrance was unlabelled right near where I got off the train. Bah.

  21. Diesel Avatar

    You have a bit of a crotch fixation lately, don’t you? I’m still trying to get the image of your overstretched, um, girl parts, out of my head.

  22. Jocelyn Avatar


    The crotch fixation is ongoing and continuous, really. And the image of my overstretched girl parts haunts not only you but also a midwife in Southern Minnesota. Join the club.

  23. Top cat Avatar
    Top cat

    fantastic adventure worthy even of a terry gross interview.
    I can’t help but wonder if perhaps it was your singing and not your coughs that kept the bears

  24. Theresa Avatar

    I am crossing my legs in sympathy…I too have suffered that same type of protest, and that is one of the reasons I rarely go bike riding. Aerobics is so much better for the crotch area.

    Remind me never to visit you before March. 😉

  25. furiousBall Avatar

    i took a wrong turn once in the pine barrens and ended up turning a 30 mile bike ride into a 53 mile one. ergo i feel your ass pain. right here ***points at butt***

  26. AmyTree Avatar

    That is awesome!!! I’m so glad I’m not the only one who accidentally exercises… I once took The Dude for a ‘little walk – just up there’ that turned out to be about 5 miles through soft sand on a beach. The getting there was okay (a shipwreck to look at) but the getting back about killed us – I had to promise to absolve myself by making pancakes and bacon when we got home (hours and hours later…)

  27. My Reflecting Pool Avatar
    My Reflecting Pool

    oh my goodness, oh my goodness. (said in little orphan annie fashion)

    What a nightmare dear. Glad you made it back safe and sound.

  28. Em Avatar

    Oh wow…I’ve been away from the blogs for a bit due to overwork and no fun, but this was a delightful tale to welcome me back. So sorry you had to endure dark riding, big trucks, and a numb private part. Certainly hope THAT is feeling better! And hope you don’t accidentally fall prey to such a long trip again anytime soon!

  29. Ann(ie) Avatar

    I wanted to thank you for the really sweet comment you left on my blog recently. It meant a lot to me. I’ve read enough of your blog to admire you so much and I just thank you so much, sugar.

    Happy Weekend!!

  30. Sornie Avatar

    I love a tale filled with crotch numbness and Marilyn Manson references. Obviously you made it home without being eaten by any bears. Cheers to that!

  31. heartinsanfrancisco Avatar

    Hey Jocelyn.

    Please come over and receive an award!

  32. my4kids Avatar

    I do love it when you write like this. To humorus! hehe. Sorry but I laughed a bit (with you of course). I don’t think I could make that ride myself though so I shouldn’t say to much, now should I?
    I sing to by the way when I am afraid or really tired like that. I revert to childhood Sunday school songs though. Makes me feel good I guess.

  33. frannie Avatar

    funny– my crotch is a screamer, too.

  34. Mother of Invention Avatar
    Mother of Invention

    Biking is definitely hard on the crotch! I’m going to try those split seats protect the delicate anatomical parts! I already have a gel seat with a gel cover, but to no avail.
    The most I’ve ever done is 13 km.

  35. Glamourpuss Avatar

    Actually, I’m sure MM wouldn’t have minded. His preference for ‘the other place’ is pretty well documented. Your Aunty Mary would be safe with him.


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