TL;DR: interested guys and their tolerant girlfriends, and cute girls walking home with some dude.
to set the scene, briefly: it's summer, and it's hot out. i'm halfway geared up - clipless shoes, baggy shorts, t shirt, helmet/gloves. my bike is as it usually is at 2am (lights, etc.), except that i've also got a pitching wedge strapped to my toptube (why isn't relevant), and i'm riding home through Bushwick and then BLAM and i've got a flat tire. the street itself isn't that busy but people are walking by on their way to or from a thing, and i'm flipping my bike over, changing my tube, and trying to make sure i don't get another flat on my way home. which is when i realize that not only is there a fairly large hole in my tire, but there's something rattling around inside my rim, and what is it but a chunk of my rim about the size of a peppercorn. i look around and realize that i must have run over a nail, and hit it dead on, and hit it just right so that not only did it go clear through my tire and tube, but it put a decent sized hole in my rim too.
so here i am, holding my wheel, and i walk into the road and gaze at the asphalt for some sign of what i hit, when:
"what are you- did something fall off? are you okay?"
it's Interested Guy.
he's rolling a cigarette, walking towards me on the other side of the street. his Tolerant Girlfriend is with him, and his body language indicates that not only is he asking if i need help, but he's engaging with me, so i jump right in.
"yeah- i think that i hit a nail just right, because it went through my rim!" i hold the wheel out, indicating the hole there. Interested Guy is interested, and he walks into the street, and his Tolerant Girlfriend follows. she's texting, or something. i tell him i just pulled a piece of my rim out of my rim, and he wants to know if it's possible it was there for a while-
"it wasn't ratt-tatt-tattling around in there before?"
but i know these things. i built these wheels, and i don't tolerate rattles on my bike. he indicates to his Girlfriend that she should check out my rim, and she glances over and then asks if i'm okay.
"oh, yeah, i'm fine. i mean, it's a beautiful night out, and at least i've got light here." i gesture at the streetlight above. there's no traffic anywhere, and a club up the street is playing Gangnam Style pretty loud. the Couple obviously agrees with me on some level, but they think i'm being a little generous. i don't want to keep them, and move towards my toolkit.
but they're still there, asking if i have everything. of course i do, and as they walk away - Interested Guy lighting up his cigarette - he maintains his display of interest, and his Tolerant Girlfriend maintains her mild amusement, and i maintain my display of incredulity and enthusiasm.
time passes. i put in a new tube, inflate my tire and am putting my wheel back on. the bike is upside down. groups pass by, talking. couples pass by, and they hush up as i, a lone guy in clipless shoes on the side of the street in Bushwick at 2am, (apparently) try to eavesdrop in their private moments.
Cute Girl approaches.
she's walking with Some Dude, but they're not, like, touching or anything. i think she's talking, and i'm leaning over my bike. i got these fancy locking axle bolts recently and they're kind of a pain to tighten - which of course is a feature, not a bug. and anyway, i don't want to disturb a couple in their private moments, so i keep my head down.
Cute Girl is a step and a half ahead of me, talking, when she breaks off, pauses and turns to me. Some Dude is about a step and a half in front of her. she smiles gently, genuinely.
"do you need help?"
i look up and try to seem unthreatening - which, given the flat tire and the clipless shoes, isn't too hard.
"nah, i'm okay. thanks though."
Cute Girl is looking at me. she's just a little done up, and her eyes are big, and she's pretty. she turns back, all naturally, and they keep walking. Some Dude does not look particularly pleased with the interaction.
i finish up. i've got grease on my hands, and it's later now, but people still walk by. i flip my bike back over and ride off, looking for signs of either of my would-be good samaritans. they are nowhere to be found.