I'm sitting in holiday traffic, white-knuckling the steering wheel, grinding my teeth and generally hating my fellow man during this most joyous of seasons, when the shouting from backseat reaches that fevered pitch which signals some kind of drastic emergency.
"Can I get a new Venus McFlytrap doll or a Rochelle Goyle doll or a Ghoulia Yelps doll?"
"Don't you have one of those already?"
"No. I have a Draculaura doll!"
My daughter says this last bit in the kind of exasperated tone people normally employ when their decrepit, but endearing, golden retriever has crapped in the kitchen…for the fourth or fifth time that day. Clearly, I'm testing her patience. I've must have also given her a false impression about the purpose of today's outing because when I said "Get in the car, because we're going shopping." I meant, "Get in the car, because I need to buy a couple bags of high-strength concrete and a whole lot of rebar." This being the Christmas season, however, my offspring has a bigger quarry in sight than an 80-pound bag of limestone dust and gravel.
As an adult, you get to a point where you realize that adding another widget to your life isn't going to actually make you any happier. Do I want a new Ruger American All-Weather Bolt-Action rifle, chambered in .308 Winchester? Oh, dear lord, yes, I do. Do I actually need one? Not at all. This is the kind of thing I try to convey to my daughter as she pleads and wheedles for yet another Monster High Zombie Princess doll. Once you have one living-dead themed, stripper-Barbie doll, I explain, you kind of have them all…right?
It's a hard sell. Kids see things and they want them. I guess I'm no better, because there are still a few things I'd like to get myself for Christmas. It's not going to happen, but I can't deny the allure of the following things.
Kona Process 167
This is way more bike than I need, but not more than I want. I like the Process bikes–a whole lot. The 167 takes that same low-slung and long cockpit mated to a short rear end and just twists the ridiculator knob over to 11. It's basically the old Kona Entourage in Kona Process clothing and since I loved both of those lines, I'm all about this thing. Or I think I am. I keep walking into the local bike shop and looking at it. I need to buy another bike like I need a hole in the head, so I've been steering clear, but one of these days curiosity is going to get the better of me. Until then….
SOG Seal Team Knife
I love knives. Always have. I'm actually at a loss as to explain why. I mean, obviously, they come in handy when it's time to gut a salmon, but at this point I own so many knives that I could use a different one to gut each salmon I catch every season, so clearly logic doesn't come into play here. I guess I just like big, sharp and pointy things. The SOG Seal Team is one of those over-the-top, durable, fixed-blade models that would come in real handy if you got ship wrecked or stranded in some miserable and desperate corner of the world. Since I try and avoid the whole castaway scenario, I'm fairly confident I don't need this thing, but it doesn't stop me from lusting over it.
Ritchey Swiss Cross Disc
I love the way Ritchey road and 'cross bikes feel–just outstanding ride quality and predictable manners. The workmanship on the frame is also impressive and while these things ain't cheap, they also aren't bizarrely expensive the way some steel road bikes can be.
A few years back, I bought a Ritchey Swiss Cross frame. I love it. The weak canti brakes, though? Not so much. I wish mine had disc brakes in the worst way, since cantilever brakes are about as effective at stopping a bike in the mud as, say, a tuna fish sandwich or a cup of warm spit. I see this disc-equipped version and envy rears its ugly head. Dammit.
Thule T2 Pro Rack
I've been running a T2 hitch-mount rack since SportsWorks originally trotted the thing out. Mine is battered and beat to shit, but it still keeps on keeping on. Lately I've been looking at the rusty bolts and the misaligned bit that may or may not have gotten that way when I backed into the old Maple tree in my neighbor's field. Who knows? What I do know is that it's probably time for a new rack.
This update to the venerable T2 allows for a bit more breathing room between the bikes and the back of your car as well as between the bikes themselves. The thing also rocks a bit more ground clearance, which would be a big plus, since I run mine on a RAV4, which, inexplicably, has the same ground clearance as my brother-in-law's `65 Impala low rider.
Prescription Riding Glasses
I have horrible eyesight–like, Mr. Magoo levels of blindness. Every couple of years I go to Lenscrafters and get soundly bummed when the technician peers at my eyeballs and mutter something entirely professional like, "Holy crap…" Apparently my astigmatism is of carnival freakshow strength and because this is true, I haven't been able to wear sunglasses with any kind of lens wrap since Bill Clinton was president.
I'm stuck wearing John Lennon glasses, which tend to fly off into the bushes whenever I hit the dirt and which steam up something fierce whenever it's foggy outside, which is basically from October to May, up here in the Northwest. I've heard that there are a few people out there that can weave some kind of optician voodoo, which enables them to somehow equip people like myself with proper riding glasses. I've dismissed this as impossible for years now, but I'm straight up desperate at this point.
Westfalia Camper Van
I know these things aren't reliable. Even with a Subaru engine and drivetrain swap which would practically double the anemic horsepower and massively improve the gas mileage, these things are a kind of hipster rat-trap…a vehicle that lures middle aged guys with neck beards and expensive wristwatches into remote places and then promptly breaks down on them at the worst possible moment. I know all this. And I still want one. It's not so much the vehicle that's important here, as the dream of what that vehicle would allow me to do: Strap a bike to the back, drive the thing to the edge of the map, pop up the camper top and just…fuck, man, roam. No hotels. No restaurant stops. Just me, my neck beard, a $500 GPS-enabled timepiece and an engine-cooling system designed by Satan himself. What could possibly go wrong?