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  I have the stink of Methuselah on me.

SEPTEMBER/2011 Ė When I was in junior high, I spend a large number of my weekends hiking in the Angeles Forest with my dad and one of his childhood friends. On these jaunts, my early-teenage self was usually clad in tight black Levis, Vision Street Wear high-tops, an Iron Maiden t-shirt and a Guns Ďn Roses jean jacket. Not exactly prime hiking gear, but if I ever made it to the top of a waterfall and there was a cute, teenaged rocker chick on the other side, well, then I was covered.

At the time, my dad and his friend were in their early 30s. Looking back, I now realize how young my dad was at the time. He was 17 when I was born. At 17, I was trying to find places to jump my BMX bike, working after school for barely over minimum wage at a local newspaper and trying to save up for a bass guitar. I canít even imagine being a father back then.
 

 
     

My dadís friend Zorlack Snappington (name changed to protect the innocent, etc.) was one of the early mountain biking pioneers and at the time was competing in races on a custom Nishiki Alien hand-built by the guy that designed the frame.

I remember the first time he casually mentioned this in conversation and having my mind blown. When I was a teen, it seemed like my dad and Zorlack were a million years old. Watching them climb mountains and traverse boulders made me nervous. I guess that I thought their spines were going to explode and their wrinkles were going to get caught on a tree branch. Or worst, they would just crumble to dust and blow away and my teenage self would be stuck eating yucca roots and living like a caveman out in the forest.
ďHow could an old geezer like Zorlack possibly ride mountain bikes, much less race them?!,Ē I thought at the time.

Fast forward 20-plus years and Iím in my mid 30s. I mountain bike as often as I can (which is not as often as I would like). Mountain biking is one of the simplest joys in my life. It simultaneously puts me in a Zen-like state while bringing me back to my glory days of practicing freestyle BMX in the parking lots and alleys of La Crescenta, CA.

Watching (my dad and his
friend) climb mountains and traverse boulders made me nervous. I guess that I thought
their spines were going to
explode and their wrinkles
were going to get caught on
a tree branch. Or worst, they
would just crumble to dust
and blow away and my
teenage self would be
stuck eating yucca roots
and living like a caveman
out in the forest
.

 
     


Thereís something magical about bombing down a hill or conquering a tough climb that turns a bad day into an awesome day and an awesome day into chocolate milk, high-fives and karate chops.

I wonder what my teenage self would think of me now. Would he worry that Iím one pedal away from turning to dust? Would he try to roll me up in bubble wrap to ensure that he lives to be a ripe-old age (which is approximately 40 years old in the mind of a teenage boy)? Would he be appalled that my iPod contains but one Iron Maid album (7th Son), yet is saturated with brooding indie rock?

The irony is that Iím in the best shape of my entire life (minus a brief period in the early Ď90s when I was crazy fit). I could beat my teenage self in a foot race. I could out climb him. I could beat him so badly at every sport that it would make him hang up his Guns Ďn Roses jean jacket forever in shame (which would be a good thing Ö that was a terrible, terrible era for me fashion-wise).

It makes me wonder what my daughter is going to think of me when sheís a teen and Iím in my late 40s/early 50s. If the teenage version of me thought that 30-something-year-olds were akin to Methuselah, what is she going to think of me? Am I going to look to her like an animated mummy from King Tutís tomb? When I do something active, will she be reminded of the scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when the grandfather jumps out of bed and dances around to prove that heís up to joining Charlie in his adventures? Maybe itís time for me to invest in one of Michael Jacksonís hyperbaric chambers to keep myself looking young. Or, I could always pull out the old tight black Leviís, Vision Street Wear high-tops, Iron Maiden t-shirt and Guns Ďn Roses jean jacket. Thatís bound to me appear younger, right?

-Caruso Deluxe

 
         
     

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