Saturday, October 6, 2007

How it Began, Part I

My wife thinks that I am obsessed. I don’t really know what she is talking about. I mean, isn’t normal to have about seventeen scooters piling up around the house (in the dinning room and garage and various other places- she has an amazing amount of grace by-the-way)? I am not entirely sure how it happened but I’ve seemed to become a sort of “cat lady” for unfortunate and neglected two wheeled autos, in particular Italian scooters. Now I get people I have never met before stopping by my house asking me things like, “Hey, I was wondering if you had a speedometer cable for my 125 Vino?” or “I thought you might have a etc… for my obscure 80’s model scoot?”
It’s weird, some times when I get home there is a new one sitting out in front of my garage with nothing but a rough note saying ‘needed a good home’ or ‘do you think you can help her’. Isn’t it strange how we seem to bestow human-like qualities on inanimate objects, but there is something about them that seem to be alive. I think it’s the way these old scoots seem to enhance or amplify the sensations we are feeling. You can drive in a car completely oblivious to everything around you and you can ride a sport bike at incredible and exhilarating speeds, but if you can get over your ego there’s something about the way a scooter forces you to slow down just a little bit and take in the atmosphere, sight, smell and sound that really makes the rider feel alive. Sounds pretty cheesy I know, but come by some time and can show you just what I mean.
It started for me on this warm summer day in 1995 when I had moved into a little farm style house with some friends. So I was starting to put some shelves that I had together and realized that they needed a little persuasion that only a mallet can provide, but my tools had not yet arrived. Remembering the detached garage, I went out to see if there was anything that I could use. Arriving at the door I turned the knob and gave a light push but it seemed to be frozen in place. I proceeded to shove the door harder and harder until what was obstructing it slid away and permitted the door to open wide enough for me to slide through. I felt around the inside wall for a light switch but alas, there was none. The room was quite dark and it had a stale and dank sort of smell to the air. The light that attempted to flood the doorway was only enough to allow me to see the mound of objects that I had just managed to push aside with door. Upon further inspection it revealed its composition. It consisted of mattresses, boxes of clothes and lots of odd trinkets all thrown in a pell-mell pile from numerous past tenants. I proceeded to enter the old building by crawling over and through the mess. Finally I surmount the pile of cast aside remnants of the people that had occupied the residence before me and I came to a small clearing. I stood there for a moment to allow my eyes to adjust and to get my bearings. The small crack of light that emanated from around the large bay doors helped some. The layer of dust that covered most of the objects here hinted that this area of the room seemed to have not been disturbed for some time. When my eyes mostly adjusted to the cave like lighting I started to look around at the dusty shelves full of old paint cans and various well used and slightly rusted yard tools. And then my eyes were drawn to a glint of light, it was a reflection of the tiny amount of light flowing from around the doors. As I began to focus a little more I realized it was a mirror. Could this be a motor cycle mirror? My pulse began to quicken slightly.
Maybe at this point I should tell you that I grew up loving all forms of transportation but none so much as the motor driven cycle. My Dad would bring me home the latest brochures and we would look at all the new models and discuss what the possible benefits would be with the new changes to each. Now we didn't have a lot of money so it wasn't like I had any of these bikes but there was definitely a yearning to ride. Anyway, let me get back on track.
Pulse quickening slightly my eyes started to trace the silhouette of the mass below the mirror. It was covered in a canvas-like sheet. At once I headed straight for my target (only slipping about four times on objects I hadn't taken notice to) and threw off the tattered musty fabric. There it was. Definitely a cycle of some sort but the lighting was so bad I couldn't make out any details. Quickly I made my way back to the house to find the flashlight on the water heater and ran back outside. I came to the door and pushed down on the six celled electric torch's rubber button and white light flooded the garage. Now looking in the room the mess in front of me seemed a little smaller and obviously easier to maneuver around, so I quickly made my way to the new discovery. I could see it was flat grey in color and very curvy. I had never
seen anything quite like it. As I pour over the bike I quickly notice there is just to much stuff stacked around it to take it all in. So I set off to open the the large doors that had been locked from the inside. I reached for the hasp and gave it a hard pull and to my relief it opened without any fuss at all. I began to haul out all the things that sat in the way of me being able to fully view my new discovery. Next I go to move it outside in to much better light,CRAP the steering was locked and no key in sight, so I go to lift the front and am surprised at the mass it carried. You see, it was a tiny frame compared to what I had been used to, however through a laboring process I was able to lift and drag the wonder out. Finally, full inspection was possible and the first thing I noticed was the artistic script of VESPA. I thought, what is that? l
Looking at the shape perplexed me. It conjured up instant images of automobiles from so many yesteryears with all their big sweeping curves and fins that at the time seemed to make them look futuristic. After a while of starring at it, touching and wondering, my friend came home and I was able to ask her the story of the treasure. She was able to tell me that it belonged to a previous tenant and upon abandoning everything to go to South America had left it for her. This was my first encounter with the MOTOR SCOOTER and particularly the Italian wonder known as the Vespa.