Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Public transit and bicycling can be routes to romance

By John Greenfield

[This piece also runs this week in New City magazine, www.newcity.com.]

It might seem like living car-free would make dating difficult. But as Tom Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay’s steamy El-train scene in“Risky Business” shows, alternative transportation can actually rev up your love life. Here’s testimony from Chicagoans who really “get around.”

Aurora Butterfly, a poet and co-organizer of the World Naked Bike Ride, says she’s had her share of make-out sessions on deserted Metra cars. But the CTA’s #66 Chicago Ave. bus was where she first flirted with relatively well-heeled suitors. “One was a voice-over artist who was deliciously beautiful, and the other was a successful animator and e-entrepreneur who looked like Batman,” she reports.

“Since it was the morning commute, they were too tired to lay it on thick,” she says. “It was more of a hunt-and-peck, secret glance style of courting, peeking over the marketing textbook.” Dating professionals was a nice change from her usual starving-artist types, says Butterfly. “They were thoughtful enough about the environment not to drive downtown even though they owned cars,” she says.

“Pete,” a musician, was entering the Damen Blue Line station soon after 9/11 when he saw an older lady standing on the stairs, wailing. After a young woman helped him get assistance for the senior, the two of them talked on the platform about how after the Trade Center attacks it seemed important to look out for other people.

On board they chatted and complimented each other’s eyeglasses as other passengers looked on. She gave him her business card as she got off the train, saying she’d love to go out some time. “I swear one guy in the train gave me a thumbs-up,” says “Pete.” Three weeks later he finally got the nerve up to call her, she invited him over to her apartment, and one thing led to another.

“Hannah” and “Dan” first met while building chopper bicycles at sessions organized by the Rat Patrol bike gang. She’s Jewish; he rolled with the Scallywags, punk-rock Christians whose members ride double-tall bikes and are sworn to celibacy before marriage.

The two mechanics got to know each other better on the Perimeter Ride, an all-day, all night, 100-mile bike tour around the city, ending with skinny-dipping in Lake Michigan. Needless to say, “Dan” gave up his vows. Nowadays the couple lives together at the Hub, a housing co-op owned by riders from Critical Mass. Vive le velo love!