I've got an office now. Well, really it's more of a cell, in which I can get down to the monastic task of writing. Not very glamorous, although it is, a.) not in my home, and b.) behind a dance studio in KC's trendy/arty Crossroads district.
The other day, I rode my bicycle in to work. I hadn't shaved, and I was wearing a bib-overall style lycra winter cycling outfit, with a motorcycle shop t-shirt under it, and a collared short sleeve Harley-Davidson work shirt over that; a spiff from the Road America launch of the ill-fated XR1200x model. Over that, I wore a bright yellow winter cycling jacket. Proper cycling cleats hurt my wonky knee, so I pedal in very old, black, Vans sneakers.
I actually do have a pair of trousers and a clean shirt at work, but since I had no one to impress, I didn't bother changing. I worked at the computer all morning, and at lunch I walked down the street to Mildred's, a hangout for local ad agency & production types, and the local digerati. I stood out like a wart on a porn star's perfectly waxed genitals. I don't think I was imagining things when it seemed that a few of the aspirational-one-percenters in there looked down their noses at me.
The thing is, I'm actually ahead of them on the hipness curve. Beards? Tatts? Cafe'd-out KZ650s? Home-made artisanal pickles? Those are so 2012.
Yes, for the first time ever I'm officially beyond merely hip. Check it out, it's a real thing.
Or, normcore may be a joke being played by a handful of bleeding-edge fashion bloggers, no one is quite sure. The word was coined by the accidentally-almost-perfectly-named trend forecasting group K-hole, in NYC. Basically, if you believe those K-holes , the über-hip have embraced mediocrity, to enjoy the simple pleasure of belonging. Or they're finally exhausted by the constant effort expended on dismissing anything that anyone else likes.
I was normcore before it was... well, I was going to say 'cool' but whatever it is, it isn't cool. Anyway, about three years ago, I (briefly) had a real job, at Trader Joe's. Since regular work outside the home meant I was going to have to commute right through a Kansas City winter, often going to work at 5 a.m., I needed an enclosed, four-wheeled vehicle. Of course, at first I looked for something cool, like a Ranchero or at least a '70s vintage C10.
What I quickly learned was that anything that I could afford, that had any kind of cool factor at all, was a complete piece of shit that I could in no way count on actually starting at below-zero temps or getting me all the way to the store.
After finally test driving an F-100 that the CL seller described as a daily driver, and which in fact had brakes on only one wheel, I admitted to myself that I was not destined to be cool. In fact, I took the opposite approach; I started scouring CL for vans that had absolutely no cool factor whatsoever.
I settled on a 15 year old Plymouth Voyager, which I found in fully driveable condition for $1,500. It looked like a very large, burgundy-colored suppository. Basically it was the sort of vehicle some Republican bought for his suburban wife/soccer mom. She drove it for years, until her last kid was going off to college. Then, when that kid needed a car, Mom said, "Take the Voyager," and the kid chose, instead, to use public transit.
The thing was, I loved it. I became a totally different person driving it; that guy traveling infuriatingly slowly in the right lane, listening to NPR while watching the gas gauge. It always started; it got me to Trader Joe's whenever it was too cold or icy to ride.
Then came some fateful night when I had a bunch of stuff to unload from the van. After schlepping back and forth a few trips, I got inside and kicked off my shoes, and wondered, Did I lock it?
I told myself no one would steal such a bland vehicle anyway, but the next morning it was gone.
It wasn't stolen for resale; when it was found later, smashed into a guardrail, it was obvious that it had been used as a rolling meth lab.
I was crestfallen, but I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised. Thieves had already smashed off the ignition of my Triumph in an attempt to steal it, and it's a piece of shit, too. You might surmise that I don't exactly live in a gated community.
Anyway, I started taking more precautions with the bikes; the Triumph, my non-running Honda Dream, and the only really good vehicle I own(ed)... my Yamaha Vino scooter. I bought a long, heavy cable to connect all three bikes, a decent padlock, and kept them all covered.
That was vainglorious; the scooter was stolen last fall.
So basically, for every year I've lived here, someone's attempted to steal one of my vehicles; twice, they've been successful. Some day, I'll dedicate a whole post to describing just how completely nonplussed the Kansas City Police Department is, on the subject of vehicle theft.
Anyway, now that it's spring again, I really could use another scooter, but as long as I live here, I know that it has to be something so uncool that, a.) hipsters haven't driven the prices up on it, and b.) thieves won't target it.
I was having coffee with a local motorcyclist/friend the other day, who was aghast when I told him I was thinking about putting in an offer on a Honda Helix--arguably the homeliest Honda ever, although like the Voyager, a remarkably functional vehicle.
At first I fantasized about customizing it somehow; yarn-bombing it, or hand-beating alloy bodywork with steampunk brass hardware; maybe just doing an elaborate, trompe-l'oeuil paint job of rust, dirt and dents so that any thief would reject it out of hand.
Then I realized that I don't need to do anything to it. The Helix is already beyond hip; it's normcore for motorcycles.
Seriously: Do a Google image search for "Honda Helix" and just look at the owners proudly posing with their Helixes (Helii?) They are so normcore it hurts.
Now that's my style.