This is all Ian Fleming’s fault.

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I was not a particularly good student in my High School days.  To be quite honest, I developed a bad habit of not actually attending classes.  Our school district had an automated system which would call the houses of truant students to inform parents, and this probably would have worked much better if they had something in place to prevent students calling the school district head office to let them know that “we have a new phone number now, and can they update their records?” after which all of the calls went to my modem line.

On the other hand, I wasn’t very good at being a truant, either, since I would mostly skip school and walk to the local public library and read books.

Since I was a boy-type child, this eventually led me over to the “Fleming” shelf in fiction, and I systematically worked my way through all of his James Bond novels.  This is where I found “The Spy Who Loved Me”, which is an absolutely terrible book and which barely features Bond at all.  The only thing I took away from it was that the main character – not Bond – drove something called a “Vespa” and that it was Super Cool.

It wasn’t until some years later that I actually saw a Vespa dealership, and had the following three thoughts:

  1. Wow, those are real things and weren’t made up for the book.
  2. Those ARE, in fact, Super Cool.
  3. Oh my god, those are also super expensive.

To be fair, Vespas aren’t that much compared to a car… but they are still a little pricey.  So, from that point on, I would occasionally wander past Vespa dealerships, look through the windows, confirm points (2) and (3) above were still true, and sadly move on.

It doesn’t help that living in Oregon means that the practicality of any vehicle without a roof is somewhat limited.

Visiting Japan and China opened my eyes to the existance of an entire world of things that looked like Vespas but that were not Vespas, but I kind of sorted them into the category of “oh, those are only available in Asia and I will still never own one.”

Then came Yuru Camp.

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If you haven’t seen it, it’s one of a thousand “Cute Girls Doing Cute Things” animes – in this case, the cute thing being camping.  It is full of helpful tips on how to camp in the winter and how to choose camping gear and I imagine it has inspired many a tent purchase.

One of the characters has a not-Vespa, and I was curious what it actually was and threw some words into Google.  It’s a Yamaha Vino, which isn’t itself all that important.  What IS important, however, is that one of the first results from my search was the product page.

The American product page.

The sudden discovery that there are many not-Vespas that ARE sold in the US and that are much more budget-friendly but still Super Cool.

One thing led to another, and I found myself waking up at a ridiculously early time to stand in a cold parking lot with a dozen other hopefuls trying to earn their motorcycle licenses.  I was, unsurprisingly, the only one taking the class on a scooter, and there were one or two snide comments about this.  As they clunked their way manually shifting up and down gears, I tried not to be too smug about the automatic transmission I was enjoying.

Three days later, I had my motorcycle endorsement and could begin the process of, first, purchasing safety gear and second, finding a not-Vespa to call my own.  The Yamaha Vino, sadly, was right out.  It’s designed for a smaller and lighter person.  The Kymco scooter I eventually bought, on the other hand, is actually big enough that a 183cm guy can fit on it without his knees bonking the steering and LOOKS rather like the Vespas I had an unhealthy attraction to from an early age, but was roughly half the cost of buying one.

1000km later – it just had its first service – this may be one of my best purchases ever.  I am not a very confident driver in a car, because I have a very poor notion of where the corners of the car are.  On a scooter, there is absolutely no question of what space you are occupying.  There’s certainly a great deal more to worry about if someone else decides to make use of the space you are occupying, but that’s why I ride a brilliant red scooter and wear enough hi-viz gear to blind a careless onlooker.

I think it is far more normal for teenage boys to develop a crush on a red Ferrari and dream all their lives of eventually owning one and then finally afford one when they are in their mid-life crisis and also pick up a blonde twenty thirty years their junior to go with the Ferrari. For all I know, the blondes are actually stocked at the Ferrari dealership.

For me?  I prefer my own take on the whole mid-life crisis thing.

Also I should buy a tent.

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