Sunday, March 3, 2013

An Unrepentant Dork

We live in a society that divides and subdivides itself, over and over again. In an effort to be special, we continually create new specializations by which to classify ourselves.

We define ourselves based on religion and race and politics and sexual orientation. We used to reject the names that people called us, and now we embrace them. I'm not making a judgement call on whether that is good or bad -- it's just an observation. Words that were once used to wound are now embraced, and even celebrated.

Geek and nerd are now used to describe the people living in the big houses, on the side of the mountain -- the guy you probably work for. Somehow they became respectable in the last two decades. Good for the geeks and the nerds. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are nerds.

Me? I'm a dork. And an unrepentant one at that.

Napoleon Dynamite is a dork.

 I was made into a dork by my parents, but at forty, I figure there's no turning back, so I have embraced it. I celebrate it -- much to the chagrin and consternation of my wife and kids. Like so many other "special" people, I feel that this dorkiness is not my fault, and there is nothing I can do about it, but I've decided that for posterity - and possibly for a government subsidy (hey, I'm not a nerd or a geek) -- that I should explain how I became this way...

It all started when I was a wee lad....

While browsing the internet the other day, I came upon a ghost from my past: 

The Huffy Bandit. My first bike. The most ridiculous of bikes. 

The Edsel of bikes.

It was the early 1980's, and all of my friends were getting bikes. BMX was the buzzword of the the day, though none of us was actually involved with Boy's Motorcross. My best friend, Aaron, had a bike called "Gold Fever." He told me it was a disco bike. I wasn't sure what that meant, but I saw no reason to doubt him -- like I said, it was the very early 80's.

So, when my parents finally agreed to get me a bike, this was the abomination that they brought home. 

It had a trapezoidal shaped seat. It looked like a black pound cake. There were, literally, dozens of boys, about my age, in the neighborhood where I grew up, we all got bikes about the same time. 

Only I rode the Huffy Bandit. 

As an aside, the bike was supposedly inspired by the "Smokey and the Bandit" movies. Remember that highlight of cinematic history -- when the biggest name in the world was Burt Reynolds, and he drove around in a black Trans Am, with a gold eagle on the hood?

I know Tans Am, and you, Huffy Bandit, are no Trans Am.

See those uniquely curved handle bars? There are two things that all boys want to do with on their bikes -- jump and do wheelies. The combination of the handle bars and the elongated seat made it possible to do NOT ONE COOL TRICK!!! I couldn't wheelie, I couldn't jump. The most spectacular feat I ever accomplished on the Bandit was to try and navigate a dip on a dirt road, and fall on my face. It was a lot like riding on the back of mentally challenged moose. But, not as graceful. 

I blame my parents. It's obvious, looking back, that they are to blame for the dork that I am today. You should have seen the way they let me dress back then: cowboy boots and guns, a space helmet and a superman cape.

At the same time.

Yes, I was dressing myself at that point, but they had the power to stop it, and they did NOTHING! It was a conspiracy. 

Proof you ask? I submit my final exhibit:

About the same time as the Huffy Bandit Affair, as it has come to be known, the kids in the neighborhood were getting roller skates -- the pre-roller blade kind. These were the skates with the plastic wheels, and the big rubber stopper on the end of the toe. The kind that made the quiet whooooooooshingsound, when you rode them down the street. Naturally, I wanted some too. 

Christmas that year was the only Christmas, of my childhood, that I distinctly remember there being no snow. A perfect Christmas for roller skates, and, on Christmas morning, I got roller skates. 

With metal wheels. 

And no brakes. 

Naturally, I was the only one so blessed. 

Do you know the sound of metal wheels scraping along pavement? It's like a cow bell around your neck. It's a dork alarm, so that everyone knows when you're coming. 

I'm not bitter though. 


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