Author Archives: Mikey Stilts

What’s in a name?

“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;”
– William Shakespeare, “Romeo and Juliet” (Act 2, Scene 2)

Now that I had my new scooter, she needed a name.  Her predecessor, the Buddy 50, was dubbed Fanta.  Her bright orange color just reminded me of the Fanta soda commercials.

Now, Fanta Orange was apparently named Kiki, but that didn’t seem to fit, so the 50 was given then name Fanta and I can tell that jingle was in my head most everytime I rode that bike.

Anyways, a new bike needs a new name, much like a guitar needs a name.  In the case of my two guitars, I let the instrument dictate what she wanted to be called and merely responded.  In the case of my beloved Fender strat, she was named after my great-grandmother Matilda; I also just really like that name.  I usually call her Millie.  My Gibson SG is named Lilith (shortened to Lilly) because she gave me hell when I was setting her up.

The scooter has gone nameless for a couple weeks now as I ride around and get to know her better.  Unlike some of my peers, I know I will get attached to this particular bike and not ever feel the need to sell her off or trade her in on a new (or vintage) model.  When I make an appreciable investment in things, they’re with me for the long haul.  I don’t usually allow myself to grow attached to most things, but over the years, my guitars (especially Matilda), a few books (such as my leatherbound Lord of the Rings), and a couple records (like Submachine’s “Mindless Device” 7″) have become a part of me and serve as concrete reminders of who I am outside of my actual self.  I knew from the get go that this scooter would be such a thing.

At any rate, while riding home from work last week, one name popped into my head over and over: Felicia.  My wife is utterly convinced that I named her after Guy Pearce’s character in Priscillia, Queen of the Desert. 

You can’t do that with a ping pong ball!

It’s certainly possible that was a small influence, but one could say the same thing about Angela Means Kaaya’s character Felisha (yes, with the -sh-) from Friday.

Can I borrow y’all VCR?

Both films left quite an impression on me.  Who’s to say?  Regardless, Felicia she was dubbed.  She’s sassy, she’s finnicky, she’s a workhorse, and she’s my scooter.

 

 

 

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Love at first sight

I’ve been wanting a scooter, specifically a Vespa PX style with manual transmission and an all metal body, for almost twenty years.  Immersed as I was in the ska scene in the mid ’90s, many of my friends had vintage Italian bikes and I was surrounded by them.  Life always intervened, however, and I never had the money nor the time to invest in buying an old bike and learning how to work on it myself.  The dream itself never died, though, and I always kept it tucked away in the back of my mind.

A few years after I got married, my wife Miranda blurted out one day as we passed a Yamaha Vino that she would like to explore getting a scooter.  We lived and both worked in the city and, while I rode the bus to work, she thought it might a good idea to cut down on wear-and-tear on our only car by riding a bike to work.  This was quite a development as she had previously expressed horror at the idea of riding a motorbike.  I smiled on the inside and before long we purchased a gently used orange Genuine Buddy 50 from Motostrada in Cockeysville, MD.

Fanta!

On the ride home

I took to it right away and had the time of my life riding it home from the dealership.  We bought it primarily for her to use a commuting vehicle, but we both knew that in the off hours, it was “mine.”

Miranda soon learned how to operate it, but when faced with riding in traffic, she balked.  I, however, had no such qualms and Fanta, as she was dubbed, soon became mine all around.  I rode it everywhere in the city and for short trips out into the county.  Being closer to a small frame than a larger one, I knew my 6’5″, 230# frame looked ridiculous on it but the freedom one experiences while crusing overcame any feelings of looking foolish, not that there were many of those as I learned long ago to not care what others thought about how I looked.

Sadly, after only an 8 month love affair, Fanta was stolen from our backyard, her chain cut away from the fence and carried off to a horrible fate as a ghetto rat bike.  I searched the neighborhood hoping to find her abandoned in a nearby alleyway, but, alas, she was gone.  Although I was crestfallen, I soon realized that, thanks to a decent insurance plan that included wholesale theft, I would finally be able to afford an upgrade.  Genuine had recently put out a 4-stroke version of their Stella model, which is basically an Indian made Vespa PX, branded in Europe as an LML Star.  With better fuel economy and a somewhat more reliable engine (in addition to making the elitist vintage scooterati uncomfortable) than it’s 2-stroke cousin, I made a beeline for Motostrada and instantly fell in love with the blue/white two tone model.

As luck would have it, the owner of the shop bought the same color bike for his own personal use and education (the 4-stroke Stellas being new to the market) and, as such, was prepared to offer me that bike at a discount instead of the brand new model on the floor, the upside of which was that it was totally broken in and he was willing to throw in a new rack for free!  As far as I was concerned, it was the deal of the century!

Felicia resting in the back garden.

A week later, she was fully registered and home (thanks to my best friend for riding her to the house!), and a few weeks after that, I had my motorcycle license (thanks to Motorcycle Safety Foundation course at the Motorcycle Safety Academy).  A whole new world awaits!

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