On my tombstone they will carve, IT NEVER GOT ECONOBOX ENOUGH FOR ME. I was a slave to those small engines, those dizzying peaky horsepower numbers lower than the fuel economy sticker, those Macpherson Struts. I’m getting sweaty just thinking about it. But mopeds? That was a bridge too far, or so I thought.
My accountant Roy saunters into the office, and he tells me that he just found five hundred bucks under the couch cushions in the breakroom and we should go buy mopeds. He impresses upon me the value of my investment in what he defines as motorized art, the alloy steeds spoken of in legend. In the parking lot, I ante up on the deal by popping the clips on my Subaru’s door card and extracting a further five hundred dollars, preserved minty-fresh by the vapour barrier.
As if on cue, the college radio station’s federally-mandated afternoon cultural appreciation programming, consisting entirely of artisanal banjo music, filled the speakers and our hearts with a sense of rural adventure. Together, we departed for the countryside, barging through covered bridges in full opposite lock.
“How many cylinders has it got?” I ask the swarthy man as he sneezed into his handkerchief, and rubbed his moly-greased paws on his hay-covered overalls.
“Got maybe one, I wager. I got it off one of them college boys came out here to protest the sour gas wells. Ambulance left it behind.”
I considered the moped carefully. It was a gently dented ‘71 Kreidler Florett, and it leaked oil and fuel in such quantities I had no doubt the paramedics had performed triage at the scene and slotted it into “already gone.”
“You boys aren’t college educated, are you?”
His line of questioning was interrupted by the stuffing of money down his denim neckhole. I was a moped owner. I was a motorcyclist. I was one of the Nicest People that you would meet, if you were driving a Honda at the time.
Weeks later, Roy tentatively rapped on the front door of my house. He was concerned. I hadn’t turned up to work for weeks. Did I have an accident learning to ride a motorcycle? I opened the door, just a crack, not wanting him to see my deep shame, but he shoved it open, knocking me onto my ass.
The scene that unfolded before him was one of horror. Every available surface in the house was occupied by mopeds, or moped parts. He turned and stared at me, his face white with disbelief.
“They’re just so small,” I whimpered. “I ran out of room in the garage and I just had to keep saving them they were so lonely, I don’t know what to do.”
As always, my intrepid accountant had a good idea of how to spend my money. Weeks later, our series of vintage moped rent-a-racer events had flourished and America was rediscovering its love of the two-stroke. We were both richer than we could imagine, but the greatly soaring demand for mopeds had raised the price of our junk into the stratosphere.
I rode home on the Kreidler, wondering where it had all gone so wrong. At the lights, I looked up to witness an enormous billboard, advertising the triumphant and flashy return of the Honda CT90. You asked for it, the ad copy roared, and here it is.
Yes. I asked for it.