Saturday, November 28, 2015

Finally Turning Heads

Moisties, my best friend in college and I used to call them.  Moisties, as in pre or young teen aged girls who exist for three basic reasons: playing with make-up so they look like harlots, traveling in packs, and giggling constantly whether they be at an amusement park or a funeral.  Moisties, as in the kinds of girls who'd never have given us the time of day when we were their ages because they would have been WAY too cool to have associated with clean-cut, well-behaved, young gentlemen such as we were when we'd have been their schoolmates.  Moisties, whose primary domain was the shopping mall, wherever it might have been back then when malls were all the rage, the places to be, and weren't closing their doors and becoming photographic features in "Abandoned America" left and right.

I knew that when I became a scooterist, finally I'd be cool.  Cool enough not only to turn the heads of moisties as I rode by who'd see me on that big, loud scooter and wish they were forty years older than they were, as well as to turn the heads of their grandmothers who'd wonder what it would be like to have their lady parts pressed tightly against the pillion seat of a Piaggio BV250 with their arms wrapped for dear life around the manly frame of the tough guy who'd be maneuvering a kick-ass scooter through the valley traffic.  And, believe, me, I knew that all just as well as I knew it when I was convinced that volunteering to play the tuba in the high school marching band would make me a babe magnet of neodymium strength.  Sure enough, back then I had to move through crowds of adoring women by swinging the bell of my Sousaphone back and forth in front of me to clear a path, just as I now have to do with the yoke of my scooter.

So it was today at the Wyoming Valley Mall as I cockily strolled down the concourse with my hands wrapped sturdily around the handles of my walker, and the bumble of my Santa hat flopping back and forth with each confident step I took.  From the corners of my eyes I saw women checking me out shamelessly as if my being a scooterist was in my very blood and somehow I was giving off the scent of rugged biker - as if I were exuding scooter exhaust from every pore!

What most caught their attention though, especially that of the two moisties who were passing by giggling, was my phone sounding the ring tone assigned to my younger daughter.  There I was mid-stride with that same full sense of manliness that Travolta had to have been feeling as he swung through downtown Brooklyn with that shit eating grin on his face while "Stayin' Alive" blared in the background.  I was passing by one of the three dozen or so cell phone kiosks when the moisties and I heard it - that high pitched, squeaky, little girl voice of Agnes from "Despicable Me" calling from my phone the inimitable words, "Look at that fluffy unicorn!  It's so fluffy, I'm gonna die!" and repeating until it registered in my nearly 60 year old brain that my phone was ringing.

In that moment as I pulled the phone from my pocket and slid the virtual marker to the right to take the call, I could feel a sense of finally having made it to the big leagues as a man hitting me over the head like a cave woman's club might have done were I just a little older.  Finally!  Forty some years too late a couple of young teen aged girls noticed me.  I mean, really noticed me.  And until the full picture came into focus of me in my Santa hat, guiding a walker across the tiled floor, and answering a phone that was screaming about a fluffy unicorn...  It felt good!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Real Scooter Post!

This is probably the most on target scooter post you'll see here, so if you're a visitor who doesn't give a rat's ass about my other brain rambling posts that might or might not have anything specific to do with scooters , I encourage you to savor it.

I noticed some time ago, on a day when I took a 102 mile ride up and down and across the valley, that there are three distinct positions in which I can sit on the scooter and that each of them more or less depends on where I choose to place my feet. 

By far the position in which I ride most often is this one.  My heels are firmly planted at the very front of the sideboards, with my toes and most of my feet extended off to the sides.  Sitting this way is most comfortable as it allows me to lean backward to some degree and I find that to be less tiring on my spine and butt.  I've noticed one other significant thing about this position.  In it, my knees bend out to the sides and into the wind, past the sides of the front fairing.  For some odd aerodynamic reason, this creates an airflow that bypasses my face which is especially good in both very hot and very cold weather.  If I could measure the difference in the flow of air that's going around my face rather than directly at it as it does in the other two positions, I would bet that the difference is significant.  It's odd to me that in spite of the high windshield on the bike, the placement of my knees seems more significant in keeping my face out of the wind.  If I were to replace the BV250, the ability to ride with my feet positioned like this would be a major requirement for a new bike.

It can be noted that an additional reason I prefer my feet out to the sides like this is that from the front it gives me the appearance of being on a cruiser style motorcycle so that oncoming bikers will return "the wave" rather than snub me while thinking, "Oh, look at the old man on the scooter, thinking that I'm going to return his bike wave."

I think of this second position is that of a more classic European scooter rider as I picture those continental chaps scootering about with their backs up ramrod straight as if they'd just come from the chiropractor's office.  My feet are flat on the sideboards causing me to sit most directly upright.  In this position, as in the first, my calves and upper legs are protected from the apparent wind created by the scooter's speed, but the trade-off is that the airflow to my face is increased.  Because I'd rather my face be least buffeted I tend to sit like this only when I'm giving my back a rest, or when I'm cruising along in leisurely fashion where I can cruise at a slower speed to savor the sights, smells, and sounds of my surroundings and when I don't have some other motorist hot on my tail because he's in a hurry.

I'm trying my best here not to go off on the tangent where I get all pissed off because most drivers seem to be okay with following a slow moving tractor trailer or piece of farm equipment, but want to run you off the road if you're on a scooter going just as slowly.

This third distinct position has the balls of my feet planted on the sideboard, with my heels free.  It's the one I use the least because it angles my upper body forward which I find to be comfortable only if my spine really needs a break because I've been riding for a significant amount of time.  Like the second position it tends to bring my knees behind the fairing which causes the airflow to come back at my face.  And, in my mind's eye it makes me look like a twenty-something on a crotch rocket which I definitely don't want to look like at any cost, so even if my back is aching you won't find me sitting like this anywhere except on the most remote back roads and byways.

There is, of course, this last position, but I only "ride" like this in the evening on chilly days.  It's totally comfortable, but least gratifying.

Monday, November 16, 2015

When the Place Becomes the Post

It took me a little while to get the screen brightness and the angle of the screen just right so I could write here, outdoors, under a full sun, but I'm finally fulfilling that urge from last week to write from a remote location.  I'm at a municipal park, by a picnic table alongside a baseball field, although I had pondered what might have transpired had I simply walked into someone's backyard where there was a table and chairs, and set up camp.  Seeing an old geezer sitting in one's yard typing might be less disturbing than other things said geezer might be found doing in one's yard, but while such thoughts come to me now and then, because as I'm often reminded  "normal" is just a setting on a washing machine, I don't usually act on them.  Well, unless sufficiently dared or given some other compelling impetus to do so.
The dot just beyond the first base line is where I set up camp to type today's blog entry.

There are times when I buy something on impulse and am barely back to the house when my brain starts yelling, "What the hell did you buy THAT for?  Such is not the case, though, with the Bluetooth keyboard which is interfaced with the tablet and upon which I am now typing.  The key spacing is nearly identical to that on a full sized keyboard so that I'm keying my thoughts just as quickly as I can do on the desktop PC keyboard.  Most crucial, that all important backspace key is right where my finger expects to find it, so all is good!

 The scooter barely fits through the opening beside the closed and locked gate to the fields.

The peacefulness out here is even deeper than by my desk at home where street noise is an ambient undercurrent to which one grows accustomed, but which is always somewhat distracting.  Admittedly there's a nearby crow that caws out a guttural hello now and then, but he's part of the overall scene here and very welcome as long as he doesn't fly overhead and feel the need to gift me.  I could get used to a place like this very quickly, but for the coming winter which my joints and other parts of me are already fearing.  

 How much happier I'd be overall if there were never the threat of snow, and I'll never understand in a million years the people who look forward to its coming.  For one who used to prefer the cold to the heat of summer, I'm starting to become one of those old people who bundle up in multiple layers just to watch the evening's offering on TV.  I'm finding my sitting here in a full sunbeam to be most pleasant, no doubt though because of low humidity, a gentle breeze, and not much heat being radiated back at me from surrounding objects.  

 What might it have been like had I been able to spend my career by teaching in an outdoor setting such as this one?  But, today's a relatively perfect day as far as days go with the sun and breeze so well balanced, and all without bugs except for the stray ant who was here on the table when I arrived.

I need to mention that without the scooter I couldn't be here.  The entrance to this area of the sports complex is gated to prevent vehicular access, but a small gap in the fencing allows the Piaggio and me to sneak though.  Oh, I suppose a desperate person might park in the parking lot at the other end and hike to where I am, but since any lengthy walking these days done by yours truly is with the aid of a wheeled walker, it would not be I walking from the lot to where I am now.


It shouldn't surprise me, I suppose, that the simple place from which I'm writing this has become the focus of the post.  I've done that before when writing from somewhere other than at my usual space by my desk.  It's so truly liberating this feeling of isolation and peacefulness, that it would be difficult to concentrate on other things if I needed to do so.  What I write here for the blog, while it will be read by a few others, is really for me as kind of an extension to the keen introspection that often occupies me when I'm on the scooter heading nowhere in particular.  I want to remember these most pleasant moments in the days ahead when the daylight will become shorter yet and the temperatures, even in full sunlight will confine me to the usual PC desk in a way that's nearly claustrophobic.  I want to fill up on times like this to sustain me during winter’s grip of the cold and the darkness that will virtually enshroud my spirit for weeks on end.


Part of why I take so many pictures, on and off the scooter, is to catalog and store up memories for when I need to return to them to help me move myself beyond a stronghold of negative things, be they weather phenomena, health issues, general doldrums, or other items of mental rubbish that need to be purged.  Blog entries, too, can take me back when I need them to, to easier, simpler, more joyful times than the ones in which I’m facing some forms of unpleasant reality.  I can easily envision this post to be one that I’ll revisit more than once during the winter months, not only to savor the memories of what is, at the moment, a delicious day all around, but to give me something to look forward to when the double whammy of cold and dark creeps into my bones and does its best to make me sigh, “Meh,” as my daughters would grunt in less than ideal times and circumstances.


In just a little while I’ll put the finishing touches on this piece of writing, pack up my things, and head out of this wonderful bit of time in which I’m wallowing.  Back at the house I’ll put this together with the pictures I’ve taken while pausing between paragraphs and sentences, no doubt by then with some supper in me and my evening lounging clothes on me.  After that it will be time to read a few friends’ two-wheel blogs, savor something warm - something Sonja M. might refer to as a “cuppa” – and pull in the sidewalk for another long (almost winter’s) nap.  Life is good today.  Here’s a prayer that tomorrow will be too, for all of us.  God bless us, everyone!