Saturday, September 15, 2007

The "Green Machine"

The automobile has become the defining element of the post"manifest destiny" period of American history. Like Lone Ranger and Silver or Michael Knight and KITT, we all develop relationships with our vehicles. It is hard to imagine a life without a stop to the gas station, bills from e-z pass, or obscene charges from the mechanic at the dealership. I hung up my driving shoes for an alternate mode of transportation-and I don't mean the train. Yes, my last entry was about the train but this one is about the jitensha or "chari chari."

In order to get to this point, I did have to spend a few hours at a "Family"-owned dealer on Route 46 (it may be more accurate to say "famiglia," if you catch my drift). I am not complaining-getting cash for a rubbermaid vehicle was quite satisfying. However, I was worried that Silvio was going to appear from behind a door. As they say, you can take the boy out of Jersey...

Jitensha (n.)- A bicycle that resembles the kind of bike your grandparents rode. Oh, but not the one with a really big tire that the guy with a monocle and handlebar mustache rides though.

Yes, it seems that even though Japan is known in the West for her automobiles, electronics, and Mr. Miyagi, bicycles from the 1940's are the preferred mode of transportation when no train is available. The only time I've seen a Chevy in Japan was when a 10 year-old was pedaling by (yup, Chevy bikes. I doubt they were UAW made either). I too ride a jitensha. Mine has been dubbed "the Green Machine."

My trip the bike shop was a fruitful one. Mind you, most bikes are not made in my size. Generally, they come in small, little, and almost medium. My test ride on these models was something like a one-man Shriners parade without the cool hat. The owner did quickly recognize that I was a "special needs" customer and had (as he said to me in perfect English) "an idea."

"Come back tomorrow," he said with a big grin.

My mind was filled with visions of a bike with a purple banana seat, streamers, and chrome fenders. Not that I am looking to stand out any more than I already do, but when the bicycle parking lot (yes, like car garages) has THOUSANDS of identically colored and designed bikes in it, I could use a hand. The next day I was indeed pleasantly surprised. No, there wasn't the banana-seated dream ride but something better-The Green Machine. It is the perfect combination of ancient design, modern technology, and a bit of improvisation on the part of the bike shop guy. Automatic headlight, front basket, extra long handlebar stem and seat post, tan-walled tires with matching seat and grip colors, fenders, and a click-shift, 6-gear system from Shimano-all of this wrapped up in a deep verdant hue. He even knocked off ¥4000 (approx. $36.00) from the sticker sale price to seal the deal. There's even a pun in The Green Machine as my family name グレン (Gu-re-n or Glynn) is often misinterpreted as グリン (Gu-ri-n or Green). There is no "schwa" sound phonetically in Japanese. (You know, that sounded a whole lot funnier in my head. Oh well...)


Although I do sometimes feel like I'm in Pee Wee's Big Adventure, looking over my shoulder for Francis, I have to say that I am quite proud to say I traded in my Saturn for The Green Machine. Happy trails!

Be well,



pgmurph said...

Hi Pat,
Great blog! Very funny and I feel like I'm learning something (you can take the teacher out of the school....). Sorry we'll miss you at Bill's wedding but hopefully we'll see you at Mike's!
Your cousins,
Kathy & Paul

Meg said...

Hi Pat!
So I haven't actually read anything on your blog yet, (I need to go to bed so I can get up with that little butterball) But I wanted to tell you that (par for course) I just found out that you had this, and I had to go all the way over to Mrs. Carney's to hear it from James in passing, Geesh, doesn't Nate tell me anything!! I can't wait til he reads this, ha, ha. Sure do miss you, hope you are well, and I can't wait to read this. BFF Meg

katy said...

I love the Green Machine! You look like you are in the 1950's!You are too funny! We missed you at Maggies baptism. Ben keeps asking for "Uncle Patchick" and then making this strange noise(go figure). Mags & Meatball are great and will enjoy hearing all of their uncles tales from Japan.
We love & miss you! KKBM

chanagan said...

Pit Pat!
I love it! Looking forward to lots more about The Green Machine.

Miss you


marie said...

wow that's a cool green machine uncle patrick!
we are going to have japanese class in school. we have a visiting teacher from japan and will have lessons on fridays. miss you!
hope you have a nice day at japan
hope you're having fun
hi kana!

Nate said...

well even in cyberspace I have to endure my wife letting me know I never tell her about stuff that I know I told her about, well I had some catching up to do on the site but got quite a few laughs from your posts. keep them coming, great to hear what you are up to over there, give kana a hug for us and weschan. I don't know if you knew but big Wes is like one years old, and were off to a soccer match, you know dis thing... dat...