This story needs to move on a little more quickly so that we can be on-track with the XL600R theme soon, see, that's what this here blog is all about. It's not about my personal fantasies and stories as a child. It is about that bad-boy Bart Simpson attitude towards life, the spirit of adventure and of course, all of the neat toys that we utilize for our mischief whether it's a slingshot or a moped.
After job stuff fizzled out in Wisconsin, my Dad was in the midst of reading some "inspirational" books, such as In The Spirit of Business. Dogged by unemployment, my dad wrote the author of this book a detailed letter asking what he thought we should do next. To his surprise, the author wrote back. We lived under the impression that fancy authors of books do not actually write back to letters from commoners such as ourselves. What he wrote was detailed, warm, and sincere. He invited my Dad to come and check out Chapel Hill as a potential destination. I remember my Pops' excitement when he had a phone call from the guy. It was a bright ray of orange light in a life that had become dull brown and stale in the summer air of Wisconsin, up on the windy hill.
I started 5th grade at New Holstein Elementary that year. Our teacher, Mr. Preston, although similar in appearance to Mr. Dewhurst, gave us a lot of homework, no time to finish it in class, basically a paper pushing jerk by comparison. With my grades slipping, we decided to move to N.C. that fall.
When we got there it was a lot different. A cramped 3rd story suburban apartment, 4th and 5th graders in the same classroom under a teacher and assistant, Macintosh computers with our own personal 1.44mb disk labeled with our name on it, heat, lots of pine trees, Black people and ethnicities other than white, and a whole new set of colloquialisms.
The Minnesota/Wisconsin accent, "oah, heay, doantcha noa?", was replaced by a southern accent, "wutchoo talkin' about, boah?", and "Y'all" took the place of "you guys". Neither of these sets of cultural boundaries affected me as an original Michigander, but I sure was more accepted and looked up to by the Wisconsin kids than the North Carolinians.
As part of the whole slinghot-toting Bart Simpson boyhoood mischief that was a part of being a badass, I started to become fascinated by paintball guns. In 3 years time, I had myself a job stocking shelves to make enough money to go out to an official field and splat people with paintballs all day every saturday. Soon I had a paintball gun of my own, purchased by the one and only Rasheed Wallace...'s brother. It was a cool sport.
Later my brother moved down and started printing business cards. He had some printing experience starting in graphics class in high school, and he even made breathe-right strips on some similar equipment.
Anyway my brother quenched my thirst for beer around this time in my life. Moosehead, a canadian beer, is owed credit a the first beer I got completely wasted on, or for my becoming a man. I liked to smoke some weed too, which I did plenty of in High School since it was then easier to find.
I was going to enter a graphics class where I'd be able to learn some of the printing skills my brother did in high school. There was a mistake, though. The graphics teacher was double-booked in a Cisco Systems computer networking class. I had the option to join that class or not much else.
Cisco had us on a computer the whole time, and an online course was the main daily activity. They were not smart enough, however, to limit our internet acess to that site only. So this is where I got into 2-wheeled vehicles again. I asked my dad for a loan, and got on e-bay in my Networking class and looked at Tomos Mopeds. Sure, I failed the class, but I got the moped, so who cares?
It was a spray-painted blue Tomos Targa LX with a 50cc engine and 2-speed automatic. I putted around on it and got stoned when I could and even putted over to this chick from Alabama's house a lot and made out with her one night. It was so cool riding away from that, I felt like I was the man.
Later I witnessed the awe that was the Yamaha Zuma. It had a wider range belt variator that gave it the acelleration of several gears all in one smooth motion, and had way better pickup than my puny Tomos. Mike and Jenny were the owners of it, a really cool couple who I spent a lot of time hanging out with. I got to test ride it at our mutual friend Kenan's house, who was my neighbor.
I was green with envy when Kenan got one. I finally found one used for less than him, and didn't wreck it like he did, so I got the last laugh. I had to get another interest-free loan from my dad, and paid him back $100 each month, or at least most months. Lots of fun was had on my machine, and I even replaced the plastic floorboards with aluminum diamondplate, and made a rear box of the same. At it's height of tricked-outness, it had a 70cc Polini kit and a Leo Vinci exhaust, but I blew the kit because I re-used a piston pin clip. Back to 50cc. I also upgeared the final drive. I think I could do 50 on it, because I was still unlicensed though, I only tried that on the 45mph speed limit highway once, and I kept up fine.
I moved out of my parents house into a big party house. I worked at a bar in addition to my frozen yogurt job, and got half price drinks. I was making all my own food so between that and the drinking, I fattened up to 180, the most I've ever weighed. Not much, I know, but I just remember being like, "whoa, where the hell did that gut come from?" I eventually moved out with the urging of my brother since one of my housemates was dealing coke and there was a potentially serious ashtray/garbage can fire downstairs. At least I had learned to do VCT tile when I did the kitchen one month as my rent.
I moved back in with Mom an Dad for a while. Later I moved back out and into a small, cheap basement apartment that was only $450 with utilities. Best of all, thoug, was that one of my good friends, Dianna, lived next door and it was a cool little 1950s apartment building that the current landlord actually had a hand in building. In his 80s, he still did all the maintenance.
I had my s-10 truck at this point, but I wanted something better than my little old Zuma. I started reminiscing about the old YZ80 or whatever it was that I had originally ridden, albeit breifly. I remember lovingthat style, and decided an early-to-mid- 70's Honda XL250 would do the trick. I perused Craigslist every day, and even put an ad out. "Wanted: old Honda XL 250 or similar for $800 or less, needs work is OK." about 3 weeks later, I got an e-mail from a guy who had a 1983 Honda XL600. He emailed and said he had just contacted another guy looking for the same, and that if I got back to him first, it was mine. He told me that the other guy had gotten back to him first, but the plans to meet up eventally fell through. That guy had a family emergency and couldn't make it. So I got the complete bike for only $50! That was hardly the end of it though. i will never be able to fully add up all that I've spent on it for parts. It has been a labor of love, and well worth it, too! I now consider this to be the perfect motorcycle.