Back in 1983, this wonderfully bizarre movie called Brainstorm came out. You may remember it: Christopher Walken played the head of this group of scientists making a device that could record and play back people’s experiences. It was a wonderfully human story about a remarkable technology, and it fucked me up pretty much for good.
I was 12 at the time, understand. 12, and very, very imaginative. The scene where the guy takes a snip of ribbon that has the orgasm recorded on it, loops it, and then hooks himself up for an endless looped death-by-orgasm was running through my head for, oh, I don’t know, ten years or something. I loved it; humans found this wonderful technology, and immediately went about destroying themselves and others with it. Ahhhhhh, people.
But there was this one other scene that actually had a longer lifespan in my head. There’s this moment in the film where Our Hero is returning to his house (which is fucking awesome, by the way), riding what I now understand to be a recumbant bicycle. It’s a very short scene; it had a windshield mounted to the front of it, and they had put a light of some kind on the bike so that the audience could see his face, and he was just truckin’ along, all horizontal-like.
You know what I mean? A recumbant? It’s one of those bicycles that you lay down on while you ride?
The image of this bike – this bike that you sit on while you ride it, instead of being all hunched over the handlebars with your butt in the air – planted itself into my cranium, and grew roots. Years later, when I would see someone ride on by in one of those things, the yearning would rise, and I’d get all lustful.
I never liked the idea of two wheels. Doesn’t it seem like you’d tip right the fuck over when you came to a stop? It sure does to me, and the indignity of falling over while trying to push the button at the crosswalk didn’t really seem worth the effort of getting one of these things. And, most of ’em are really fucking ugly. You’d look okay in them if you were a 60-year-old professor from Berkley or something, but an overweight 6′ tall long-haired nerd in black? No. No, my friends. That would just be a spectacle.
Recently, though, I spotted this thing, coming home. Some dork was riding what looked like a reverse trike; two wheels in front, one in back, and…
Laides and gentlemen, I’d like you to meet… the EZ Tadpole.
I bought one. It took me four months to convince my wife I wasn’t just infatuated with the idea of the thing before she agreed to the expense.
And thus, this wondrous device arrived at my local bike shop last Wednesday. I hustled my ass down there, picked it up, and commuted to work on it on Friday. I ran errands on it for my wife (and myself) all weekend. I chased my son around a parking lot with it (he on his bike, me on mine) on Sunday. I commuted again today.
It’s bliss. Gotta tell ya, I have always loved biking. It’s the bikes I hate. With a passion. I despise the little seats. I despise the “way-up-in-the-air” perch they give you. I despise the trepidation and terror one experiences when your bike wheels drop into a rut of some kind. I hate flipping over the handlebars and ending up wrapped around the bike, which is wrapped around you. I hate them. Hate hate hate.
I love this tadpole thing. “Tadpole”, for your edification, is what is used to describe a trike with the two-in-front-one-in-back configuration. I care not one whit for these details, nor for the whole bike geekiness that threatens to engulf my existence, like dark clouds on the horizon.
No, I only care that I can zip about like a total goofball, out in the California air, getting 30 minutes of hardcore exercise each way, smelling the trees, the bay, and the auto exhaust, and and grinning maniacally against the cold, cold morning air. I bought Jon Stewart’s “America: The Audiobook”, and listened to it on the way in this morning. I must have cut quite an image: crazed longhair all in black save the neon yellow jersy, tooling along on a red and black tadpole with an orange “look out for me!” flag fluttering high above, laughing out loud at random spots as Jon Stewart said funny shit into my ear…
Yeesh. What a morning.