I have come to the conclusion that when it comes to wheels, a man just can’t leave well enough alone. After all these years of watching kids strip, bend, paint and destroy perfectly brand new bikes, I believe it is an issue of genetics. If your a dude, you just can’t fight the urge to tweak your ride.
For example, lets take one of our boys. Rodney is a perfectly normal nine year old boy with an active imagination and a tool kit that contains one pair of pliers, a screwdriver that is bent like a horseshoe, duct tape he stole out out of my tool box and an empty can of WD-40. Rodney choses to keep his tools where any sane 9 year old would, which is 20 feet up in the tree in the front yard tied to a branch.
Just a few weeks ago Rodney received a brand new bike for his birthday. All the boys were impressed, it was sweet. Immediately following the party, Rodney rushed out the door and up the tree to grab the tool box. Him and his cronies then went to work.
The first thing to go was the hand brakes, after all that whole stopping thing is highly overrated and definitely not cool. Next thing was to cover the brand new seat in two inches of duct tape and to then draw some logos on it (I think this increases speed and overall performance).
The next morning as I walked the boys to the bus stop I happened to look at Rodneys new bike which looked more like a World War One messenger bike than the trick bike it was designed to be. I also took note of the valve stem covers that had skulls on them and the dusty saddle bags that somehow found their way from my motorcycle to his ghetto cruiser.
I started getting a little upset and was about to make this moment a very memorable, and tragic, childhood experience for old Rodney until a picture of my Dad flashed through my head. Growing up I destroyed more than my fair share of bikes (and a few cars) and snuck enough tools and parts off the old man to start my own pawn shop. That whole “What goes around, comes around” thing was catching up fast.
When the boys got home that night, we sat down for a family conference and talked about putting all the bikes back together, in original configuration and not taking off any more parts or changing the bikes in any way. I thought everything was going well until the whole conversation was flipped around on me, much to the sheer delight of my wife. They asked, “Why is it ok for you to take the fender, windshield and brake lights off your motorcycle”? So how is different from you taking the muffler off your bike and putting on those LOUD pipes”?
I tried going with the “I’m an adult, your not” line, but Mrs. Launch was taking the kids side and not being very supportive of how I thought the Family conference should go. I finally had to relent and admit that my example of chopping parts off my motorcycle was on par with Rodney cutting his brakes off.
Why do we do it? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because every guy has to add a personal touch his wheels to make a statement. Maybe it’s to make the world take notice of an otherwise unremarkable existence. Or it could be that every guy has a bit of a NASCAR fantasy running through his mind. I’m sure there is more than one lawn mower in Mississippi that has a Jeff Gordon sticker stuck on the hood.
Or as my wife puts it not-so-delicately, “Boys will be boys, wether they are five or thirty-five, you all act the same”. -Launch