Thursday, May 31, 2007

Back when my wife and I were expecting our third child, we decided (and by "we" I mean my wife) that we needed a minivan. It's a sad day in a mans life when he must consider buying a minivan. It's a little known fact that when you buy a minivan the dealers will take your testicles for a downpayment.

In fact, driving a minivan is second only to buying tampons on the emasculation scale. There is no way to look cool driving a minivan, it's impossible. Put George Clooney or Shirtless Matt McConaughey behind the wheel of a Chrysler Town and Country and you've got nothing more than two middle-aged douchebags and a dozen dirty sippy cups.

So I played a little trick on my wife. Here's what you do: She wants a minivan, you don't want a minivan, so you offer a ridiculous alternative. The more rejectable the better. In my case, I suggested that we get an old VW bus instead. I didn't really want a VW bus, but I didn't want a minivan either, so I insisted that a VW bus would be the best choice. I made the most compelling argument I could for it: It wouldn't depreciate, I could fix it myself and save money, any improvements made to it would be money in the bank, etc. . . Then, after arriving at an impasse, I offered a compromise. I casually suggested we consider buying a 1967 Dodge Campwagon van I found on eBay. It was like a VW camper van but with a powerful and reliable water-cooled American V8. She took the bait. My balls were off the hook. I could roll in style and have seats for the kids. It was a victory for my house-brand jedi mind trick.

That's how I got the Campwagon. Unfortunately my victory was short-lived. It has no air conditioning. The poor kids were cooking back there. After seeing their sweaty little red faces I gave in and bought a '99 Ford Windstar. It's like the Ford of minivans. Yep. Pretty sweet.

But on the bright side my wife reminded me that she got the deed to the family jewels on our wedding day anyway, so they were already long-gone. But out of a mixture of pity and having-something-to-hold-over-my-head-laterness, she let me keep the Dodge.

Fast-forward three years: In February I drove the Campwagon to Las Vegas for a scooter rally. On the way back six feet of the tailpipe fell of in the Virgin River Gorge, wires got melted by the hot exhaust and killed my taillights, the fuel gauge went nuts and insisted the tank was totally full all the time, the temperature gauge followed its lead, my heater blew ice-cold, and motor oil began hemorrhaging from every orifice. Adding insult to injury, when I finally pulled into Provo 24 hours later, my brakes went out.

Probably right here I should insert a reminder that I am not normal. In case you were wondering, I'm a little strange. Most people would probably have been pretty discouraged about their vehicle at this point, but I was really excited because I had so much fun camping in the old Dodge that I was motivated by the setbacks to fix it and make it better than ever.

Two months later the Campwagon was all fixed up. I even built a loft in the top so when the roof is raised you can sleep up there. Just in time for the scooter rally in Moab, too.

So with the kids at sitters and our scooters, mountain bikes and gear loaded in the back, my wife and I set out for Moab.

(Stay tuned: this is going to be a trilogy, or maybe even a guadrogy.)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

We don't have In-N-Out Burger in Utah. But in spite of this, every Utah kid old enough to read knows about In-N-Out. It's a long story, but here's why:

Utah is a landlocked state. Our largest body of water is so salty, it's toxic to nearly all life. Utah isn't famous for anything very exciting. Our license plates have a picture of the desert on them for crying out loud. We have the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, The Book of Mormon, the Mormon Church (of which I am a card-carrying member), and the occasional polygamist. Imagine Nevada without gambling, swearing, drinking, or hookers and you have a pretty good idea of what Utah is like. (Okay, it's not that bad, we sometimes swear here too.)

But don't get me wrong, I love Utah. I am proud to be what they call "Utarded." I like it here. So don't send me any nasty emails. The truth is, If it weren't for the siren-song of California, nobody would complain about living in Utah. But unfortunately for us Utahns, California exists. The San Andreas fault hasn't swallowed it up yet. Growing up I dreamed of California. Like a poor Israelite wandering in the wilderness thirsting for milk and honey but only finding manna, I dreamed one day to visit Disneyland and to swim in the ocean. Who wouldn't?

So it really isn't any surprise that whenever a kid moved to Utah from California, he or she was instantly popular. I remember one time at a BYU merit badge pow-wow, a schoolmate from Farrer Middle School told everyone he was from California. I called him on it and he shushed me. He knew he had a chance to make an impression on strangers, so told the one lie guaranteed to get him some respect.

Another time a friend invited me to go with him to meet up with an old buddy who used to live in Utah, but had moved to California. This friend of his was staying in some low-rent student housing for a week during a church-sponsored youth program. You should have seen my swelled head when I told my scout leaders I was ducking out early to meet up with some dudes from California.

One thing all the cool kids did in order to associate themselved with California was wear In-N-Out shirts. With respect to this phenomenon, there were the "haves" and the "have-nots." I was a "have-not." I initially thought the shirts were just made up. I didn't know there was an actual burger joint called In-N-Out. I thought it was just a trendy-shirt fad like the "Big Johnsons" shirts cool kids also wore.

All of this changed when as a High-School Junior I took a trip to Disneyland with the A Capella choir. We were going to sing at Bear Country or something, watch The Phantom of the Opera, shop some outlet stores, and eat at In-N-Out. When the choir director announced In-N-Out, people applauded. The rest was moderately exciting, but In-N-Out got everybody worked up. Every "have" turned to every "have-not" and with a special gleam in their eyes, extolled the virtues of the In-N-Out burger. At last my time had come! I would finally get to eat at In-N-Out and get a shirt to prove it! It would be like losing my virginity but without the guilt and subsequent therapy.

Well to make a long story short, talk about a disappointment. After all those years of wanting to belong to that exclusive club, I finally ate at In-N-Out, and you know what? It wasn't any better than Mickey D's. I was so disappointed I didn't even waste money on a T-shirt. Everybody else was feigning orgasms over the fries and shakes, but I knew they were faking it. Fast food is fast food, no matter what state you're in.

Every now and then I run across one of the In-N-Out kids I grew up with. They are all attorneys and high-rollers now. Magna-Cum-Groupies. Turds. All because they learned early on that they were better off if they affiliated themselves with people and places of higher social standing than Utah afforded them.

After reading this diatribe, you'll be surprised to know that at the Las Vegas High Rollers Scooter Weekend in February, I ate at In-N-Out burger for the second time in my life. I didn't go there for the food. Again, it was unparallelled in its mediocrity. I went there so I could spend around $40 on T-shirts for my kids.

After all, I want them to get into the best schools.

Monday, May 14, 2007

I've been accumulating a bunch of blog topics over the past several weeks, but haven't found myself in the mood to write about them.

There was the story of Richard Guhn's third annual pilgrimage to The Scooter Lounge, which would have been titled "Richard Guhn: How we got rid of him for good this time-- we hope."

There was the story I was mulling over about how as a kid growing up in Utah, kids from California were automatically admired and accepted into the coolest cliques-- even if they were from a hellhole like Bakersfield, or Barstow.

Then there was the story of how certain individuals at Genuine Scooter Company, (in spite of me having been one of their most vocal supporters and one of their top dealers), began waging a campaign against my mental health, financial security, and general happiness by becoming a major pain in the neck. But although that was a big, big headache, and I'm still mad as hell about it, it's neither funny nor entertaining, and I think it would be ill-advised to publicize it.

In the wee hours of this morning I awoke from a dream about my Brother-In-Law whom I never met on account of his suicide ten years ago. For some reason it cast a pall on my whole morning. I thought about writing about that, but it's pretty depressing.

A few weeks ago my six-year-old son intentionally broke a big plate-glass window and began working at the store for an hour a day to pay for it. Hilarity did not ensue. Nothing to write about.

My wife and I went to Moab for a scooter rally and slept in my van, down by the river. It was fun, my friend Marty nicknamed me "Magic Fingers Dave," and there were plenty of wisecracks about "If this Van's a rockin'. . ." all totally unfounded. And I took my mountain bike on a "tour de humilation" from which parts of my body are still recovering.

Speaking of "still recovering" I crashed a customers scooter in the parking lot of my store. That's a great story too.

So my blogfriends, help me to narrow the field. Tell me what stories you most want to hear.