Saturday, May 7, 2016

Form vs. Function: My Scooter is My Horse


When I was in the first grade, I remember a day when the nun went around the room near Mothers’ Day asking each of us to name something our mothers did for us.  While I awaited my turn listening to each of my classmates’ typical responses of, “My mother washes my clothes,” and “My mother cooks my food,” and so on, even then at the ripe age of six or seven I had a flair for wanting to offer an answer that would be unique and that would put a big smile on the nun’s face.  (I think of the scene of Ralphie in “A Christmas Story” handing in his composition about what he wants for Christmas and imagining his teacher writing an “A” with many pluses as his grade.)  Unfortunately I don’t remember that day and my answer to the nun with stark clarity because she was so tickled with my response, but rather because of the deep shade of scarlet that my face must have turned when I felt it burn with shame when I offered, “My mother cleans up my toys for me when I’m finished playing,” only to have the good sister scowl at me and strictly admonish me that it had better not happen again because it was MY job to clean up after myself.  Well, according to the nun it was. 

What I leaned that day was to hide the fact that I’m lazy and would gladly let others clean up after me, and I continued my already firmly established habit from the primary grades in school of being a slob for most of my life. 

I got away with “preferring function over form” at home because despite the nun’s embarrassing me in front of my 49 classmates, Mom kept right on cleaning up after me.  Till the day I left Mom and Dad’s house to get married every now and then Mom would turn my bedroom upside down and I’d get home from class to find everything that she expected me to put away stacked in layers on my bed.  That was the closest to doing my own cleaning up that I ever came.

I never had to worry about having a messy classroom for most of my teaching career because I was mostly an elementary science teacher, and a cluttered science room was a sign of a lot of learning going on.  Dirty test tubes and beakers and such scattered in layers just added to the charming ambiance and proved that I wasn’t only lecturing about science but rather getting the kids involved in doing science.  And I was the only guy on the faculty most of the time, and guys seem to get away with being slobs more than ladies do.  Sometimes I almost think the gentler gender half expects us to leave our things lying around, and I'd hate to disappoint them.

My daughter and my student, Angela, clearly enjoying one of our classroom dissections of a relatively fresh fish.  That the fish parts likely stuck around until they were shriveled and literally stuck to something probably wasn’t one of my clearer assets, but neither did it bite me on the ass.

I’m still not treasured for my keeping things at hand (I’m better at euphemizing than I realized.) but the Mrs. isn’t either and as long as there isn’t stuff growing from the dust on my junk, my clutter doesn’t oft get me into too much trouble.  I’d like to show you a neat little nook from which I do most of my writing and such, but the truth is I still sit amidst bunches of things that I might just need at any minute when I’m here at the PC.

My computer corner.  I can easily put my fingers on hundreds of things if I need them, from fingernail clippers, to screwdrivers, pliers, ointments, magnets, cables and patch cords, et al. without exerting more effort than it takes to rise from my chair and extend an arm.

What does any or all of this have to do with scooters?  Plenty.  I realized only today after making a run to the pharmacy, and after having attended the Whiskey Dick scooter rally last weekend, that my Piaggio is my faithful steed rather than my Rolls Royce. 

At the rally there were dozens of slicked out shiny bikes to see, most of them well kept and buffed up for us to admire.  Although numbers of riders might have had them loaded to the gills with the accoutrements of travel while they were on the road, they were of spartan decor lined up in the lot.  The last time my scooter look as good as most of the scooters there, was on the day that I brought it home from the dealership.


It’s always a lot of fun to check out the other scooters at a rally, and many of the riders take a good deal of pride in the appearances of their bikes which are forms of aesthetic expression as well as utilitarian means of transportation.

My scooter is my horse and it gets me to where I want to be much more economically than the car, especially around the city where I often have to make short runs to pick up various things and to get to appointments of varying kinds.  Sometimes I just like to take it out for a "gallop."  Either way nobody will ever mistakenly call me a Nancy 'cause they're not going to see me sitting around figuratively brushing my little horsey to make her coat shine.


Cluttered with the crate and different means for attaching things so they don’t bounce out or off, my scooter is strictly functional.  I don’t much care how it looks because I don’t have it out there to win any kinds of prizes for its appearance.  No, I don’t abuse it, but neither do I spend hours washing and waxing it like the forty-something who never grew up across the street who spends more time making his trucks and cars shine as he does drinking and being ornery, all of which he does very well.

 

The bag hanging from the mirror bars by a bungee cord ensures that my stuff from the pharmacy will get home in one piece and dry even if we happen to encounter less than stellar weather on the ride back.  Nope, it’s not going to win me any “best dressed” awards for the Piaggio, but it does its job perfectly.

If, in the end, my kids dump a bunch of my “stuff” in my casket with me because they think I’ll be happier with it throughout eternity, good for them!  And good for me in as much as any post-mortem continuation of self consciousness would deem it to be a good thing for me to have it with me and to know they thought enough of me to think I’d be happier with it. 

Note to self...  Give some thought to being cremated, having my ashes placed in the space beneath the scooter seat, and then having them bury the whole enchilada!  Wait!  The Piaggio is Italian...  The whole cannelloni!  

2 comments:

SonjaM said...

Are you really filleting fish? Looks like open heart surgery to me.

kz1000st said...

I love the comparison of a scooter, or any two wheeled conveyance, to a horse. I have often thought that riding on a motor powered vehicle is the 20th century equivalent to riding a horse. You're in the open and in touch with your surroundings and you're viewed as a Cowboy by most auto drivers. Instead of a Stetson we wear a helmet.