Hey there, Chunky Photojournalist Barbie here.. Work has been crazy for me. I've been working my butt off for Milestone clients so everyone is all situated before I leave for the honeymoon, and every time I think I have the lion's share of wedding planning managed, a bunch of other tasks seem to pop up.
I'm fine, but I need to slow down, and soon. The trouble is, an Angie in motion tends to stay in motion, and- to continue the physics analogy- Joel is the only thing keeping the household from careening into a state of entropy. I need to give Joel a lot of credit. He's grocery shopping, vacuuming, doing more than his fair share of pet care. He's the best. He's even updating the blog for me! So without further ado, Joel's guest entry about his latest toy, er, Earth-friendly endeavor: his Vespa. Except it's not a Vespa, persay. It's a Vespa-like scooter of a different brand. What was I saying about "Without further ado"? Ah, yes...
Everyone is noticing that the price at the pump has really gotten out of hand these last few months. During my first $50 fill up in May, I decided that I had to do something different. Gas plus tolls to work was adding up to around $100/week,and I don’t even drive a big car.
Angie and I have talked on and off about getting a pair of scooters. I decided to go ahead and get mine. I did a lot of research, took lessons, bought a scooter, passed the motorcycle road test and have been on two wheels instead of four for a week now. Instead of a 4 cylinder, 2.0 liter engine, I now primarily use one cylinder at 150cc. Angie is a bit concerned that I’ve traded in the hard candy shell of my car, and now I’m riding around with just my chewy nougat center exposed. (Well, yeah...)
Don’t get me wrong; I still own my car. I still use it for big shops at the supermarket, when I anticipate having a passenger and for long trips. I’ll be taking the scooter to work (weather permitting. I’m thinking of giving it a nickname… maybe the “Chinese Mosquito” because it’s made in China, it buzzes and from the front, it kinda looks like a mosquito. (As God as my witness, I will NEVER call it that.)
It’s orange… not my first choice for a color but it was the last one they had of that model. I decided to make the best of it and get a blue helmet so now when I ride it, I’m riding around with the Mets’ colors. It hits 65mph and gets about 75 mpg. I love going to the gas station on empty, giving the guy a $10 bill and getting back change after my fill-up.
As for the chewy nougat center, I understand the concern… ( I love you, honey, but let's face it: We're accident-prone jackasses) and I’m taking as many precautions as I can. Aside from rethinking the process of driving as a more deliberate and cautious act, I bought a full face helmet, even through I got a half-helmet, which just covers everything from above the ears up, for free when I got the scooter. I also got Kevlar reinforced riding gloves and an armored riding jacket with padding in the forearms, back, elbows and shoulders. Additionally, I have enough light-up accessories and reflective materials that as soon as another car’s headlights shine on me, they won’t be able to not see me.
I already had a few strange encounters on the scooter, though. First off, I have to break in the engine so I can’t open the throttle all the way, which means no highways for a while. I’ve been taking all side roads and surface streets. Even though I’m a native New Yorker, I’m going through places that I didn’t know existed, everywhere from the peaceful, woodsy road through Pelham Park, to the urban congestion and squalor of Webster Avenue and White Plains Road in the Bronx.
Responses from other people on the road and sidewalks have been… mixed. Every day I’ve ridden, people have asked me where I got my scooter. How much did it cost? Do you need a motorcycle license? Is it easy to ride? How fast does it go? What kind of mileage does it get? I’ve been asked so many times that I’ve memorized the phone number of the dealer I got it from. Hopefully he’ll get some more business. I think he will, just because of gas prices. So those are the positive responses. On the other hand...
I stopped in Corona, Queens the first day I got the scooter. I went to a pizza place that sells Coca-Cola from Mexico where they make their Coke with actual sugar, not the high-fructose corn syrup crap that’s in everything up here in the US. It makes a difference, trust me.
I got out of the store, enjoying my bottle of ice cold Coca-Cola with regular sugar by the scooter with my keys on the seat,
when two clearly intoxicated Hispanic men came to me and started speaking to me in Spanish. This is Corona, so Spanish really is the first language of the neighborhood. I told them I didn’t speak Spanish, so in broken English, one asked me for money so they could buy lunch. My street-smart radar went off, so I told them no.
The surlier of the two grabbed the scooter keys off the seat. I almost punched the guy- (This is a funny mental image for me. Uh, I mean, you're a lover, not a fighter, Joel.) but I was able to grab the keys out of his hands since his reflexes were impaired by the alcohol. Then they asked for money again, this time saying please. If I wasn’t going to give you money before, I’m definitely not going to give it to you after you steal my keys… Duh!
Earlier today, I headed down to midtown Manhattan to go to a Q&A/Meet and Greet with the NY Mets announcers Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling and Lee Mazzili. (I am so fucking jealous that you get all summer off.) I was riding through Harlem and stopped at a stoplight. I hear a thwack on the scooter and saw something bounce away.
Now… I’ve heard that sound before… It reminded me of how sometimes in the fall acorns fall on my car. That’s the first thing I thought of. Then I realized that it’s July, and the thing that hit me was shiny and metallic. It was a AA battery. WTF? There were some people standing on the sidewalk nearby, but no one was paying much attention to me. I’m doing my part for the environment… are you trying to tell me I should go straight electric? Please don't throw batteries at me. Thanks. (Note to self: never throw batteries at Joel.)