Someone stole my bike last month. Stole it right from under my apartment, well, from the alcove that my apartment sits on top of, the spot where I kept both of my bikes, two in all, unlocked to one another or anything else. 

Yes, unlocked to anything. Free. Propping each other up, like two one-legged boys needing some steadying. I just have such faith in our little community, our little Santa Monica bubble of silver-spoon feeders, that I just let the bikes sit in the alcove all by their lonesome and I have blind faith they will always be there for me when I needed them.

Nobody will take them. It can never happen to me. Our community is safe.

And just when I start to really strut my stuff, really cocksure and all that, one of the two bikes was taken. I came down the flight of steps out of my apartment because I needed to hit the grocery, and I needed the bike to get me there. The grocery was walking distance, only six short blocks away, but I wanted to make haste. When I turned the corner around the steps to look into the alcove, all I saw was the one green bike, The General, leaning up agains the wall. The General was fine, basket in tow. It was one of those generic beach cruiser bikes. But my black GT XXL road bike, Sexy Black, was gone. 

Of course I knew it was my fault. Who wouldn't take an unlocked bike? Surprised he didn't take both. The alley behind our apartment was filled with garbage-scourers and plastic-bottle-finders searching for their treasures in our trash at all times of the day. All that one of these folks had to do was mosey out of the alley and around the corner into my alcove, spy Sexy Black, and that was it. They could hop one Sexy Black right there and peddle away with their big Santa's bag full of recycled goodies in tow, jostling about, grinning a big poo-grin and mumbling to the heavens. 

How many heavens are there? Who cares. These bums would mumble to every single one of them at once after landing Sexy Black, that much I knew for fact. 

Hot shit this pissed me off. I pay good money to stay in this part of town! We aren't down in Venice near the halfway houses and crack-strip on the ocean. We are in Santa Monica, California, home of Jon Favreau and George Lazenby, the second James bond ever and the guy from Chef, not respectably. There are celebrities here, I've seen the tour buses plowing through the streets looking for them!

I was furious and I'm not a furious guy. I'm a spoiled guy, that is much is evidenced from the last couple of sentences, right?

Whatta pompous prick, you're probably thinking. And I'm not going to stop that thought process inside your noodle, I couldn't. But I tell you, I'm not a prick, I'm a Man on Fire.

This burglary changes everything.

I called everyone I knew. People that didn't even live in the same state got a blanket text from yours truly, the Man on Fire. 

Oh, the blazes, they scorched everything I found right in the world. The pain! I was beside myself. If there was another Justin, identical to myself, and we were right next to each other, I couldn't be more beside myself.

I called the landlord and informed him of our soulless community, our preposterous security, of his gross miscommunication to me on behalf of this town's all around good naturedness. Whatta liar. He was to blame.

I told that 94 year old man that he was a fucking liar. Told him straight through the phone, man to man. He took it decently enough, through the hacking, the wheezing and the what-have-you. 

Bah. Forget him. I needed to go tell this on the mountain. I needed a bigger platform. I needed to tweet this to all of my 400 Twitter followers. I needed to hashtag 'Santa Monica Police' or 'Neighborhood Watch' or 'Stolen Bike' or 'Ariana Grande.' I needed to to report this offense in hopes to stop future injustices from happening to someone less level-headed than me!

So I did. I tweeted. I hash-tagged. Sexy Black was gone and I needed to bring it back (that was a stretch, sue me.) I would find the culprit, of this much I was certain, and Lord knows I'm not certain of much. But are any of us? When's the last time you were absolutely certain about something? Absolutely. Certain. 

Actually, that point has nothing to do with my main point, and actually kind of detours us off topic and oh why the hell did I bring it up. Forget it, come back, let's keep moving.

So I brought my angry ass up to my then girlfriend and current fiance, Mandy, and I mouthed off something fierce. Told her we needed to move. Told her it was her fault. Told her she was bad luck, that she made this happen. 

If I wouldn't have been thinking about us and all of our shit, I'd have remembered to lock the bike. She was appalled at my train of thought. I didn't care. Someone had to feel as angry as me about this, may as well be her, right? Get her pissed at me, then I'd become less pissed. Like a scale.

I didn't see the logic there either, but in the moment I wasn't seeing anything besides RED. I see red, people. As opposed to 'I see dead people.' Anyone, anyone? 

OH! The next group of innocent people I blamed it on was my two buddies who are always up to no good. I texted them both straight up and told them 'haha very funny good one guys.' They played dumb because they are dumb. These dummies playing a game on me, hiding my shit. 

One lesson I learned the hard way in life was to never hide people's shit. I can't remember offhand how I learned that lesson, but I'm sure it was 'cause I hid someone's shit and then got my ass kicked because of it. So now I was ready to beat their asses because of their prank.

Only they had no clue what I was talking about. They usually played dumb really well, but this was too good even for them. It finally sunk in that they weren't playing a prank, they weren't hiding my bike, and that a smelly bum with a Santa sack of recycled shit was on Sexy Black. 

I was despondent.

I'd have to get a new bike, start locking my apartment door, locking my car door, locking my bathroom. When would it stop? Jeezus, I'm getting a headache thinking of all the locks I'd have to remember to use from now on.

I was a wreck. A hungover wreck. Yes, I was hungover when I discovered my bike to be stolen. Let me quickly retrace: the day before, I'd ridden my bike to Whole Foods and locked it up, went into Whole Foods, got a wrap, eaten it outside on the metal chairs there, then walked to R&D kitchen located one block west to have a cocktail because it was Friday at 1 and I don't have a full-time job, don't judge me, and 4 cocktails later I walked home.

That was all I did. And the next day I woke up and needed to ride Sexy Black and some Bum Santa stole it from me. 

When pressured, I recounted this exact same story to my fiance. She asked if I'd checked Whole Foods for the bike. I said 'No, it's not at Whole Foods. I rode it home. I put it down there, geezus woman, weren't you listening!?'

I knew it was at Whole Foods. Gahdammit. I left Sexy Fucking Black at Whole Foods. 

She saw a mixture of panic and relief in my eyes. She had me.

She then asked if she could drive me to Whole Foods to see if the bike was there, just to be sure. I assured her again that not only was it not there, that I'm sure the bum who took it was halfway to San Luis Obispo by now. She could see through my shit like a really clean window. Or an open window, which is even easier to see through.

But she insisted on taking me up to Whole Foods in her car, just to take a look. Bah. 

I didn't want her to do this because I knew it was there, waiting for me, and I wouldn't be able to live this one down, the time that I played Chicken Little with the whole damn town, my friends, the 105 year old landlord, informing everyone that would listen about Santa Monica's demise into an epic shithole of a beachside community.

I was gutted. I was between a rock and an ocean and she was forcing me to swim. 

I knew I was trapped. So I did what any pure, real manly-man does when his ass is up against the wall.

I caved. 

I let her bring me to Whole Foods, all the while buying myself time to concoct a plan to save my forgetful, pathetic skin.

We rounded the corner and were coming upon the Whole Foods. A block away. I start blathering and sweating, in that order, and repeatedly. I mentioned how unlikely it is that it will be here. She says nothing. I sputter some more. She's stoic in her silence.

We get within eye-shot of the parking lot, where I would have set Sexy Black on a street lamp near the closest handicap space.

And there it was. Sexy Black was chained up. Right where I left it the day before. Before I went to R&D to have my afternoon delights. There it sat, unlocked mind you, against the lightpole! And waiting. 

For me. The owner.

Mandy looked over at me but didn't speak. We pulled slowly closer, having to wait at a crosswalk for some jolly asshole to traipse through, and then we inched towards my shame.

And I was broken. Speechless. She now realized that she was set to marry a buffoon. A nincompoop. I needed to save this. I needed to think of something big.

And I did.

'OH MY GOD. There it is!!! My bike! Which means...the guy that stole it is inside Whole Foods RIGHT NOW! Honey, pullover, I'm gonna go inside and KICK HIS ASS!'

Nailed it. 

It's not often in life that you come out on top, but this day folks, I did just that. She went along with my story. She let me go inside for five minutes and when I came out and acted confused, like the culprit somehow must have escaped, she said nothing. The bike WAS unchained, by the way. So, at least that played into my story. He stole it from me, came here, didn't know the lock combo, and bailed when he saw me coming in, guns hot. 

But she knew. And I knew she knew. But we never mentioned it again. She's honorable and pure like that, that's how I know she's a keeper. She lets me live in my fantasy world, lets me save my honor, when we both knew that I messed up. She raises me up. I soar, because of her.

Kidding, of course.

The second I told her the culprit was in Whole Foods she laughed her bloody ass off and hasn't stopped laughing since.

In fact, I hear her still, right this moment as she tells her parents on the phone about the day Justin's bike was stolen. 


Justin HarderComment