I almost never do this any more, but I gotta tell ya: when you've been to the sort of dinner party that ends abruptly with you, tongue stained an ominous bruisy purple, leaning into the remains of the fettucine and saying something along the lines of: "Lemmetellya shomething about George...Dubya...Bush..." there's nothing better after that than a cool glide down a deserted 2 a.m. bike path along the lake.
I was going to say that it helps you pull yourself (I mean, of course, that it helps me pull myself) together, but that's not even it. It renders the whole idea of 'self' and 'together' temporarily moot. You perch there perfectly balanced and motionless while everything hisses past, traffic and sodium lights to the right, the flat vast silent dead lake to the left. The lake smells almost like nothing, this far east. You used to think it smelled like nothing altogether, but now in Etobicoke around the new condos it smells like raw sewage. Anyway, here it's odourless, black and cold, dotted with clusters of blurry white swans, fringed with monstrously fat willow trees with leaves that burn sodium green under the streetlights, and it all reminds you pleasantly of childhood ghost stories of lonely crossroads and cold dead fingers.
And the best thing is that there's nothing you can do right then; you're doing everything you possibly can just staying upright, maybe humming a little tune, and trying not to be too aware of the giddy pleasure of your momentum, in case you forget how to do it and fall, and trying not to look too hard at any one tree or boat or moon in case you hit a pothole. It's okay for everything to be peripheral, barely noticed; everything's fleet, everything glides, and you, drunk on a bike, have no impact on the outcome of the U.S. election anyway; ferchrissakes, you can't even vote.
(And of course the troubling person who forms the background to all of this drinking and biking and slurred bombast, actually to everything, the way the black sky is background to the sodium-yellow glow of Etobicoke: he's almost certainly asleep by now anyway.)