Tales from the Lardbutt Peloton, March 12, 2004
Team Lardbutt isn't the fastest team in the US, it isn't the best-equipped team, and we sometimes wonder if it exists at all outside the imaginings of Chief Lardbutt Greg Taylor. Here's some Lardbutt philosophy on a subject we've all pondered - life's contradictions and ...
No Calorie Sweetener
Sport Utility Vehicle
If it weren't for life's little conundrums -- you know, pairings of things that shouldn't go together -- there wouldn't be much for us guys to think about while spending that "quality time" in the bathroom. Not that any of you do in fact camp out on the throne, pondering the place of oxymorons in the universe. And even if you did, none of us would really want to know about it anyway because, you know, it's private. Almost sacred, in fact. Strictly a matter of conscience between you and the toilet paper holder up on the wall.
The point here (and there is a point here, trust me) is that sometimes the universe throws you little cosmic curve balls when it smushes two disparate, contradictory concepts together into a single wad and then tosses the whole weird mess into your lap to figure out. You either try not to think about it at all or, given some "quality time" to burn, you can wind up obsessing about it.
"Soy latte", that's a good one. How can you have a latte at all if a cow is not involved on the milk end of things? Follow me here with this: the Latin/Italian source of the word latte means milk. There is no getting around the fact that a latte without milk is hardly a latte at all. And if the entire point of a soy latte is to skip the milk, then what do you have?
What you have is a guy obsessing on the linguistic detritus of popular culture, that's what you have.
Some of the things that you come across turn out to be true oxymorons. "Sport Utility Vehicle," for example. Forget the all of the ecological/sociological baggage attached to these vehicles, just parse through the term: it's… it's… what? A sporty version of ... a "utility" vehicle? I dunno. Ferraris are sporty. BMWs are sporty. A utility vehicle is not sporty. It has utility. It is useful.
Try this: close your eyes and conjure up the image of a Ferrari belting along the French Riviera. International supermodel Heidi Klum is fashionably draped across the passenger seat, the scent of fine Italian leather mixing with her expensive Parisian perfume. You downshift, the multivalve engine screaming a Paganini aria as it revs to the redline. You smoothly drift through the corner, hitting the apex perfectly. Hard on the throttle, you snick back up through the gears and melt into the distance. Heidi smiles, your weekend getaway together in Monaco is shaping up to be a very sporty proposition indeed.
Now try the same exercise with, say, a Ford Explorer. I see a pair of skidmarks at the first serious corner and a Ford-sized hole in the bushes. There is no drifting effortlessly through corners, no running through the gears as you disappear into the distance, no weekend getaway with international supermodel Heidi Klum. There is no sporty here. I see bags of compost and sheets of plywood. I see small children smearing windows with jelly-encrusted fingers. I see wheeled appliance.
Sometimes, however, these contradictory pairings can work wonderfully, pants-wettingly well. Take something like "Trappist Ales" for example. For the non-bibulous, that's beer made by monks from Belgium. Now you would think that drinking beer would be about the last thing that any of the world's major religions would get behind, especially on the production end of things. And you would be gloriously, magnificently wrong. Those Belgian monks flat out knew what they were about when they got into the beer business: throw a couple bottles of Chimay or Leffe ale down your gullet and you get religion real fast, guaranteed.
See, it can all make sense.
At this point, the Gentle Reader is probably still wondering when we will start discussing bicycles in all of this nonsense. For that I offer three simple words: "easy training ride".
Actually, it was a comment casually tossed off after yesterday's "easy training ride" by Team Lardbutt's resident Philosopher of the Road, Lonesome Dave, that provoked this whole riff on conundrums and oxymorons in the first place. We were sitting on the curb outside of our local pastry shop hang out. I was sipping some post-ride coffee while Lonesome Dave was contemplating the natural beauty of a very fine cherry muffin when he turns to me and says, "You know, it's weird. The weekly Team Lardbutt Ride has been around for over ten years now. We get together every Sunday morning, and every Sunday morning we each trot out the same tired story that we're worn out and want to go easy, only to spend the rest of the ride beating on each other. Easy training ride? It doesn't exist. Get more than two of us together, point us down a road, and we will inevitably go out of our way to try and inflict as much pain as is humanly possible in the next sixty miles."
Wiping stray muffin crumbs from his goatee, Lonesome Dave seemed to be turning an idea over in his mind, measuring its implications.
"Yet it all stays so... friendly. No one gets shown the curb, no one gets pissed off, and we go out for coffee when we're done."
"And your point is?"
"My point is that either we're all confirmed sadists or princes among men. Take your pick."
"I prefer to think of myself as a vicious, opportunistic, lying bastard, thank you very much. Are you going to finish that muffin?"
"Don't even think about it."
"Don't think about what? Don't think about the fact that you are going to give me the rest of your muffin, or don't think about the thin veneer of shared civility that apparently keeps us from being total assholes on wheels?"
"All of the above."
"You know, I saw a big ol' hairy fly crawling across that muffin when it was sitting in the display case."
Easy Training Ride. Another conundrum for y'all to contemplate wherever you choose to spend your "quality time." Just be polite and jiggle the handle when you are done…