July 20th, 2009

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I had a whole letter worked out for you about this weekend, my sister’s new baby, meeting T’s parents, my imminent move uptown, the strange off brand soda machine I found in Austin, but no, that will have to wait, because this morning as I strutted out my door, a shimmering silver helmet under my arm, I saw something that stopped me in my tracks.  Well, to be more accurate, it was what I didn’t see that surprised me.  My scooter, gone.

You know me, Charlie, I’m not one to panic.  Maybe it was towed.  Maybe it was stolen.  Both are possible explanations.  It wasn’t parked illegally, but it was right between two driveways, and the scooter, being little more than a glorified chair on wheels, could have been carted off easily by even the most motley of crews.  I took a few snapshots of the scene in case it was stolen and turned to go back inside.  But as I was crossing the street I saw something about halfway down the block.  A familiar form leaning against a telephone pole.  I squinted.  Could it be?  I hurried to see if it was her.

Go ahead and exhale, Charlie, indeed it was her.  You’d think a wave of cool relief would have washed over me, but no, there was still something unsettling about the situation.  How did she get down there?  Whose grubby hands were all over her!?  At first I thought it could have been the guys who work at the that shop she was parked out front of, but no, they all own scooters or motorcycles and would have known how to use the kickstand and not left her clumsily propped against a pole.  She wasn’t damaged, though a small piece of cosmetic plastic was missing and the left side-view was loose and twisted grotesquely one hundred eighty degrees.  No one had ridden her either since the steering column was in the locked position.  Any joyriders would only have been able to scoot in futile circles.

I realigned the mirror and wondered if I should still ride her to work.  Was it safe?  She had been tampered with, her seal had been broken.  I checked her vitals:  gas, oil, tire pressure - all tip-top - and went for a test drive around the neighborhood.  I tell you, Charlie, she purred like she always has.  What ever had happened left no noticeable impression on her behavior.

As we barreled over the Brooklyn Bridge, that brave little scooter pushed to her mechanical limits and the wind blowing tears across my temples, I faced the cold existential fact that there are somethings we can never know, somethings with no purpose, some hows and whys unanswerable.  But doesn’t this take the beauty out of life, you ask.  No, Charlie, quite the contrary.  Just ask Richard Dawkins.