how my bicycle helmet helped me meet the sexiest man alive (in my opinion)

photo: getty images

What has my bicycle helmet done for me lately? I mean, aside from protecting my brain in case of a sudden impact on the streets of New York City? Well, how about this: My hot head gear recently helped me meet the sexiest man alive.

Imagine it: There I was, cruising contentedly up the First Avenue bike lane, when a fellow cyclist pulled up next to me at a red light. Lost in thought, I neglected to look to my right.

“That’s quite a helmet you’re wearing,” I heard.

I turned to acknowledge the voice, which sounded familiar in timbre, if not in accent. And there on a folding bike and wearing a pretty darned awesome helmet himself was none other than the Tony-Award winning star of last season’s acclaimed Broadway hit Jerusalem.

I drew in a sharp breath, then managed to cough out, “You’re Mark Rylance!” And mumbled: “The sexiest man alive.”

Rylance — whose sublime and profane performance as Johnny Byron nail-gunned legions of theater lovers (like me) to our seats in the Jez Butterworth play — smiled and looked down at his shoe. I, who not long ago settled a benign, too-cool-for-school gaze upon Madonna at a Manhattan restaurant, let go an unseemly, for a New Yorker, gush:

“I saw you in Jerusalem your performance was amazing I’m such a big fan congratulations on winning the Tony I didn’t know you’re a cyclist..burble, burble, burble.”

“Thank you,” Rylance said.

I think I may have begun to genuflect, when the actor reached out and gently squeezed my right hand before pedaling away. Mark, I’ll never wash that hand again! I’m typing this with grubby fingers! I didn’t entirely understand your Tony acceptance speech about walking through a wall — in fact I was baffled — but that just made you sexier!

Naturally, I had to share the news of my bike-lane brush with greatness. So I regaled a waiting room full of senior citizens at the doctor’s office where I was meeting my mother-in-law for her appointment.

But senior citizens, even if they were an attentive and appreciative audience, wouldn’t suffice. My heart was full. I had to broadcast this to the world. So I tweeted, and caused quite a sensation:

@velojoy: Mark Rylance pulled up next to me in #bikenyc lane to say he likes my helmet. Speechless!

@fishmorgan: OMG, he’s so cute <3

@JerusalemBWY: What’s he ride?

@landwarsinasia: A bicycle. Duh.

@velojoy. He rides a folder. Didn’t catch the brand. Distracted!

All this is to say that bicycle helmets are more than just protective head gear. They’re a cyclist’s ticket to meeting the stars. Seriously, didn’t you see that photo a few months ago of Leo and Blake Lively canoodling on the streets of Manhattan? Sure, they were riding Swedish-made e-bikes, but I won’t hold that against them. And what about Liev and Naomi? They practically live on bikes downtown. If you wear a distinctive helmet, there’s no end to the celebrities you could meet in the bike lanes, too.

I know you’re dying to know what kind of a helmet caught the eye of the sexiest man alive. But for that, you’ll have to read my forthcoming post about my — almost — sisterhood with Academy Award-nominated actress Julianne Moore…

(The London production of Jerusalem, starring Mark Rylance, opens Oct. 8 at the Apollo Theatre.)

photo: getty images

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