ISLA VISTA, Calif. — Dammit. It’s happening again. You’re minding your business, riding to class, just trying to pedal fast enough so that some try-hard doesn’t pass you when you see the biker. Him or her. Doesn’t matter. Everyone here is beautiful, so much so it’s annoying. In dinky old Iowa, a college-age student like you would be an 8, maybe a 9 on a good day. But here, you’re a 2 compared to the literal models sitting next to you in your gen ed classes. But this biker, oh, this biker is a 12.
Try not to stare. Stare anyway. Who cares? Everyone’s focusing on their own bike, listening to music and attempting not to crash. The eyes. The hair. The way their legs … move? They kind of pedal … perfectly. In this moment, the infatuation is so heavy that every part of them seems perfect and you stop pedaling for a bit just to take a longer look, committing every facial feature to memory.
Oh my god. Eye contact. The connection. In every single alternate universe, the millions that are out there — they don’t look up, never even know you exist. But here, right now, they’re looking right at you with those green/blue/brown eyes (you’re still going super fast). You think about who you’ll invite to the wedding. What color will the flowers be? What food will be served? Oh my god, band or DJ? Your mind spins out of control.
But just as quickly as it began, it’s over. You pass, and you feel your heart drop. Your bikes no longer face each other, but they continue onto their separate paths. Looking back is too risky; you could literally crash. Or the person behind you would think you’re a weirdo checking them out. You must continue forward, onward and without them. You can’t help but wonder if they wanted to look back too.
How will the hole in your heart be filled? Class seems like a joke now. Having to sit, paying attention when all you can think about was the love of your life slipping through your fingers. It was one fleeting moment, one glance, but you’re sure they were literally the hottest person of all time. And now? Gone. Gone like the wind whipping through your hair as you push for —
Oh, look, another one!
Sam Franzini doesn’t need romance novels. He has the bike path.
A version of this article appeared on p. 10 of the Oct. 21, 2021 print edition of the Daily Nexus.