Hey look. A peanut!
The automatic response to discovering such a delightful and unexpected titbit would be to put it in your mouth. Especially if you wake up to find aforementioned titbit resting in your navel. But, assuming you have made some cognitive advancement beyond the age of two, you might then ponder whether or not the last item you ate had any peanuts in it. Then possibly wonder just how long it’s been there. Or whether it is indeed a peanut. But by then it is just a little too late.
Some would say that those older than two should probably have processed that well before putting said item into mouth.
Those people would be grownups.
It’s my birthday.
There are advantages to being a grownup. You get to do (more) stuff without asking for permission. Other grownups (usually) pay attention to what you have to say. You get to stay up late(r). You get to drink coffee. And alcohol. And advancing years brings a strength of character to hold off a couple of weeks before watching ‘Iron Man 3’ (thereby avoiding the crowds and nabbing that perfect seat: middle of the front section, knees on the seat rest in front, nape of neck in the crook of the seat, gazing upwards at an enfolding panorama).. expectation and ensuing disappointment aside.
But there are also downsides to being a grownup. You are expected to abide by social conventions. Like not wearing a Jedi Knight outfit to work (or at least leaving your ‘Kill Bill’ Hattori Hanzo replica sword sheathed at home). You have to talk to other grownups about stuff that really doesn’t interest you. You don’t get enough sleep. You need coffee. And alcohol. Other grownups cajole and bully you to sit with them at the back of the cinema. And then, when you eventually get there, Iron Man gets all lovey-dovey then loses what’s left of his mojo over an alien invasion that happened years ago.. Oh c’mon.
And the Invernizzi Competizione.
For every bicycle brand you know about there’s another thousand or so that you don’t.
There is a difference between the grownup and the adult. Adults are humans that have reached a certain age and legal identity. Grownups are that subgroup of adults who think they have, well, ‘grown up’. They are adults that think they can tell the difference between reality and make-believe. They measure and calculate everything. They need purpose. And validation. They need an explanation for stuff that happens. They are pragmatic. They are reasonable. And they don’t believe in magic.
I know. Because, for 14 hours a day, I am one of them.
Bicycle for a grownup.
No doubt a chap of pleasant disposition and appearance.
Confident and well-informed but diplomatic and always on the right side of history.
A chap one may meet and remember favourably.
Without grownups we wouldn’t have the likes of Marie Curie, Thomas Aquinas, Hillary Clinton, or Sophie Scholl. There would would be no rules, no social structure, no culture, no education, no advancement in science, technology, industry or the arts, no common ground to engage with others who see things in a different way. Bullies would rampage unchecked. Things wouldn’t get done. There would be no establishments and no one seeking to change them. There would be no workers. No government. No one to pay tax and no one to redistribute it.
There’s another thing about grownups: grownups don’t collect bicycles.
Because bicycle collecting is a ridiculous endeavour. The bicycle is a cheap, utilitarian mode of transport. And there are hundreds of millions of them of all shapes and sizes. Even if you choose to hone in on a few specific brands/types/materials/manufacturing techniques/years/period/size/colour/or component selection in a desperate bid to satisfy whatever simmering psychological issues you harbour you can never hope to control or complete a bicycle collection. In any area. Ever. And if you are collecting bicycles to make money you are misguided or have little or no understanding of investment opportunities. Or your psychological scars run deep and you are completely deluded. If you are collecting to impress then I have crushing news: hot - chicks - don’t - dig - bicycles (or poor people). Bicycles, when not in motion, are awkward and unwieldy. They (usually) don’t stand up on their own and you can’t (easily) chuck them in a drawer or stack them away on a shelf.
I’m mostly grown up now.
I now know that when a girl says “I think your bum is bigger than mine.” that it’s the same as saying “do you think my bum looks big?”. It means that she is vulnerable and that she is looking for kind words and affection. You don’t say “nooo waaay..” then get out a tape measure to show her the difference.
I’ve stopped collecting Smurfs.
Yet continue to collect bicycles.
Bet she doesn’t dig bicycles.
1980 and a mix of Nuovo and Super Record.
A time before exa’s, ultras, hypers and ultimates. When “super” was the height of a superlative.
Campagnolo Super Record.
Selle Royal Super Contour.
And another thing: the Tony Stark I know does not bed Pepper Potts. That would just ruin the delicate sexual tension between them. And Tony Stark does not fight inner demons. If memory serves me the super-rich, mega-smart playboy with a fantastic array of toys and a dark, complex personality is a flying rodent from the DC Universe. Not Iron Man. Over the last few weeks many newcomers, young and old, drew their first impression of The Mandarin from Ben Kingsley’s portrayal of him in ‘Iron Man 3’. Just as some of the more mature amongst us drew their first impression of that plucky, little revolutionary from Mr Kingsley’s portrayal of him in ‘Gandhi’ (1982). Only the latter bears any resemblance to the original.
Some might say that the former doesn’t really matter because he’s fictional.
Those people would be grownups.
The notion that an accurate record of the real world is more important than that of an imaginary one certainly has merit. History should be accurate. And fiction need not be so finicky. But one does not exclude the other. The retelling of stories, real or imagined, is a uniquely human experience - with it all it’s flaws, adjustments, embellishments and inaccuracies. By drawing from real and imagined worlds we sink roots in a physical presence that moves constantly around us. Stories serve as reference points for how we relate and respond to the real world. And their importance cannot be underestimated. It can be argued that many bad things come from careless or misguided narratives.
An Italian story.
Plenty of natural flair.
And the occasional oopsy.
The Marvel Universe is young, expanding and evolving. Like other things that have yet to cease existing it has a narrative that writes and rewrites itself. Birthdays around the (assumed) mid-point of life provides a certain prerogative to reflect on narratives and to *ahem* spend a bit of time thinking about the point (the reason and the inflection) when one’s narrative stops.
But not that much time. For there’s plenty to do in the time left remaining.
Few collectors find it easy to disengage from their collections. The muddle of synaptic connections that makes an assortment of odds and sods morph into an ensemble of similar items with its own focus of attention (aka “a collection”) is one of many inexplicable, or, unknowable things. One of many inexplicable or unknowable things that frustrate grownups. Like whether Superman is Superman (in part) because of Lex Luther and how that paradigm shifts if Lex Luther turns out to be a stand up comedian (we may find out if DC goes the way of Marvel when it comes to the modern marketing of traditional supervillains). Or the finding that up to 4% of the human genome appears to be Neanderthal: like which distant relative of ours titillated “Hey, that looks vaguely human.. gonna have me a piece of that..” (or rather “hrrumph, hrrumph, hahw, hahw, hoomba..”) and that hybrid offspring of such a godless union can be genetically and reproductively viable. But the moment the idea creeps in that somewhere someone else has something better, or something you want, another something to add, it’s at that point that a collection develops a life of its own. It’s own story. A heartbeat.
How many ways can you route derailleur cables around the bottom bracket?
Might as well.
The 1980 Invernizzi Competizione.
A middle aged man looks at a collection of old bicycles and contemplates a narrative that treads between serendipity from a life experienced and artifice from a (nostalgic) world imagined. A narrative that blurs between reality and make-believe. A world apart.
And quietly chuckles to himself.
And quietly chuckles to himself.