25 June 2006

Pimps on Bikes

Although I’m working in the small, dumpy Midwestern town during the week, on weekends, instead of flying home to the East Coast (which is a long, complicated, and often frustrating experience), I get a hotel in the medium-sized, dumpy Midwestern city that is about a thirty-mile drive from the small, dumpy Midwestern town.

There’s much more to do in the medium-sized, dumpy Midwestern city, especially on weekends. That’s not to say there’s a whole lot to do here, but at least it has cafes, restaurants, and a few good book stores. While I’d rather go home on weekends, the hassle to get there often leaves me so exhausted when I get home that I’m too tired and burned out to enjoy being there. So this is a small but important compromise I’ve made.

This medium-sized, dumpy Midwestern city is like many other cities in the Midwest of this size. Its population is neither expanding nor deflating too fast, it barely maintains the already crappy infrastructure it has, and its economy has remained shitty since the American industrial collapse of the 70s and 80s, all of which keeps it in a perpetual state of mediocrity and mild depression.

By my rough estimate, I’d say the city has a 70:30 percent mix of whites:blacks, and since it’s the upper Midwest, they live together in a rather peaceful but suspicious harmony. It has a few fairly well off suburbs, an alarmingly low amount of middle class neighborhoods, and the rest of the place is a weird mélange of petite ghettos, tarpaper shack hillbilly enclaves, and trailer parks out the wazoo. Once again by my rough estimate, I’d say 60-70% of the citizens earn less than the national average. The place is a depressing dump, more or less.

There are five other cities of this size in this state that are exactly in the same depressing condition as this one. And this state, I might add, voted Republican in the last election.

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

So I just watched the great David Beckham score the winning goal for England in their victory over Ecuador, and to kill time before the Netherlands-Portugal match, I decide to cruise around this medium-sized, dumpy Midwestern city.

At first I was just driving around aimlessly, without much thought to where I was going. But after a few passes through the “ghetto,” I began to notice a rather curious and hilarious phenomenon I’d never seen before: pimps on bikes.

Now, I hail from a huge East Coast city, so I’ve seen my share of streetwalkers and pimps. The pimps where I am from consider their cars a point of pride, a sort of proof of their position in the pimp echelon in the ‘hood. The higher echelon pimps drive snazzy European and Japanese sedans or huge SUVs. The more modestly-ranked pimps drive used Caddies or SUVs. The low class pimps drive beat up and shitty cars that were shitty when they were new.

I noticed the pimps and ‘hos in this medium-sized, dumpy Midwestern city on one of my passes through its petite ghetto. The hookers were mostly young, chubby girls of both races, butt-ugly and clad in cheap clothes from Wal-Mart or some other god-awful bargain basement store. They ambled slowly up and down the main street of the petite ghetto as if they were searching for a lost contact lens. Every time a car passed them they’d look at the driver and nod, which, as we big city slickers know, is the hooker’s signal that her red light is on and she’s open for business. I have no idea what kind of sick or desperate bastard would fuck these pigs, but that's not what consumed my thoughts as I drove by them.

Hovering in the background, perched on bikes, were the hookers' pimps, mostly tubby African-American fellows clad in the ubiquitous ghetto "gangasta" uniform seen all over America: an oversized white t-shirt, retro basketball jersey, baggy shorts with the waistline sagging down below their ass, and a baseball cap turned sideways; all they'd need is a big red ball on their nose, big, floppy shoes, a little honking horn, and a bottle of squirting seltzer, and they'd look like circus clowns.

In my city the pimps also hover in the background, but they park along the main hooker street or one of the side streets that intersect it and sit in their fancy—or shitty, depending on their status—pimp cars and keep watch over their employees as they listen to rap music on a car stereo blasting so loud that the bass line can be heard on Mars. Here in this medium-sized, dumpy Midwestern city, the pimps hover around their 'hos on bikes.

Pimps on bikes? Now I’ve seen it all. I'm sure Superfly and Huggie Bear would be ashamed to see this low-class pimp practice.

Maybe these are environmentally-conscious pimps who are trying to keep down the hydrocarbon emissions of their snazzy pimp cars that are parked back at their pimp pads. Maybe they are fitness nuts. Or maybe the recent rise in gas prices has forced pimps to cut back on their operating costs. All I know is that the sight of pimps on bikes made me laugh so loud and hard that I nearly crashed my rental car.

I wonder if the pimps on bikes in this petite ghetto in this medium-sized, dumpy Midwestern city have their way to measure their position in the pimp echelon. Perhaps the more successful pimps ride around on fancy Italian racing bikes. Perhaps the ones in the middle of the pecking order ride around on mountain bikes or Schwinn ten-speeds. Maybe the ones having only one or two extremely butt-ugly hookers in their stable ride around on beat-up Huffys they stole from a retarded paper boy.

I wonder what kind of protection a pimp on a bike can provide for the whores in his stable. If a john gets a little rough with a 'ho, does her pimp on a bike ride by with a jousting lance and crack the john in the head with it? Do pimps on bikes perform drive-by shootings like the cowboys in The Wild Bunch did on horses?

And what's next? Pimps on skateboards? Pimps on rollerblades?

It’s just too funny!

- Alex von Waldenberg III, 25 June 2006


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