Wednesday, April 29, 2015

"Never mind the dog, beware of the owner"

We’ve been living on Holmes Street for four months now. And even though we bought a house with a fenced yard “for the dog”, I still walk him to the park three times a day. It’s just a much nicer park. Although Mr. Chubbs must miss his girlfriend, Betty.

This morning, Mr. Chubbs and I exited through the back gate. I guess the water table’s dropped a little, since there’s finally not a trickle of water running from my sump drain, down the alley towards the street.

On the last corner before the park (which is only the second before the park, and that’s only if you count leaving the alley) there’s one of our block’s scruffier houses. Mr. Chubbs frequently pees on a car projecting out of the driveway onto the sidewalk. It’s a tiny, first-generation Honda Civic; just a body shell and motor, with no glass or interior. It’s a cool project, that would normally make me like the owner, but his property has a “Never mind the dog, beware of the owner” sign, which is 99.5% of the way to proving the owner’s an asshole. 

The dog bit Mr. Chubbs once. The owner’s kid had it out, on a leash, and it surged forward, dragging the kid off his feet and across the little lawn on his belly, until it could get Mr. Chubbs and bite him. No real harm was done; Mr. Chubbs is usually the instigator, and probably did project his own aggressive vibe. All I can say is, that dog was lucky Betty wasn’t with us. Betty ferociously defends Mr. Chubbs. And, it made me feel better about Mr. Chubbs peeing on the Civic. 

The asshole’s a Honda guy. There are two or three Honda cars and minivans there, as well as two—well, one and a half—Honda motorcycles in the driveway. They’re the kind of customs that really make you wonder why anyone would go to that much effort. A weird cafe/chopped Gold Wing, and what looks like a single-sided VFR frame with a Yamaha XS650 twin motor grafted in there. Seriously. Why? It’s as if, maybe fifteen years ago, Japan and the U.S. had an argument and Japan slapped an embargo on exports.

Anyway, we got to the park without incident. The threshold of the park is marked by a sign saying, “All pets must be on a leash”. That’s the point where I let him off, and throw the frisbee. A woman walked past, dressed sort of like a stylish Bedouin. In the distance, coming from the other direction, was a big black dude, wearing headphones. He was carrying a stick and singing falsetto, along to whatever he was listening to. I was out in the grass; we exchanged hand-flips.

On the way back, I saw the black guy—he was also dressed in black, from head to foot—standing in front of a large tree. He was motionless; it was almost as if he was communing with it in some way. Then, he shook out a skipping rope, and skipped. He was a pretty good skipper. Maintained a good pace, with a low, well-timed, economical jump. I know, because I am an excellent skipper, or at least I used to be; I’m now, realistically, a very good skipper. After about a minute of skipping, he stopped. It was a pretty good effort, for a guy his size and age. At that point, I was at my closest approach to him, he looked up and said, “Take it easy.”

Mr. Chubbs and I crossed Gilham Parkway, walked the half-block past the bad customizer’s house, back up the alley, and into our own yard. The sun was still low in the sky, casting ‘magic hour’ light across the lawn. It looks better, ever since I resurrected the Briggs & Stratton-powered lawnmower that the previous owner abandoned in the basement. 

Speaking of things near-abandoned in the basement, I’ve been thinking about selling all my bikes. As it is, I have three that work, most of the time. And one that has been stalled at 95% complete—a 1963 Honda Dream 150—since I bought it five years ago. I’m getting screwed on insurance, registration, and property taxes; the State of Missouri—as far as I can tell—seems to think all motorcycles are of approximately equal value. 

Except for my Vino scooter, all my bikes could be cool. But I’m starting to realize I’m just not the guy who’s ever going to simultaneously have the time, money, and gumption to make that happen. And for the moment, they all need varying degrees of maintenance to even be made safe and reliable. They're at that stage where you look at one of them and think, I should go for a ride, but how much work would it be to get it started.

And the fact that they’re down there in the basement in that condition irks me. I avoid looking at them the way fat people avoid mirrors in locker rooms. If I sold them all—I mean, if I sold my bikes, not, if I sold all the fat people—I could probably get enough money to buy one better one; something more reliable and broadly functional. 

In the meantime, if I spent the summer bicycling everywhere, I’d be better for  it. 

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