February 12, 2009

Les Razors, les Rollerbaldes et les Tiddy Bears … Mon dieu!

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So I’m living in Paris for the semester — the “fashion capital of the world” — yet sometimes I feel like I’m stuck in a horribly warped version of the years 1997-2001. Let me give you two loosely held-together examples, embellished with my biting wit and sarcastic quips. All set?
The first is that Parisians have gone bat-shit crazy over Razor scooters.
… Really?? I know that walking is — God forbid — a horrible inconvenience, but these devil boards can be a serious death trap. Here is but one of many examples of scooter-related trauma: Freshman year I was walking down Tower Road to get to a 10:10 lecture. That year I was really into wearing my Patagonia messenger bag so that I would look “edgy” and “hip,” yet “thoughtful” and “environmentally-conscious.” Some dude on a freaking Razor scooter comes barreling down the slight incline from Baker Hall, loses control of his person and double dead-legs me from behind. We both go down, having a collision at that huge intersection where Day Hall is located. The worst (and funniest) part about this story, though, is not simply that he made me topple at one of the most populated intersections on campus, but that his effing handlebars got all tangled up in my messenger bag’s strap, therefore rendering us awkwardly and nearly permanently attached. I barely made it to class on time, and Razor Scooters™ have thus been placed on my very short Shit List™.
Yet the French seem to have an ache in their hearts for those three pieces of soldered metal and two PVC wheels. I’ve seen a family (mother, father and daughter) holding hands and scooting down the street, I’ve seen business people in Gucci suits weaving in and out of traffic and I’ve seen young boys try to take their scooters to the XTREME LIMIT by sprinting down the sidewalk and then hopping on. All of these examples, to me, point to civilization’s sure insanity and general malaise.
Mark my words (Nostradamus v. 2.0 BETA©): the end-time will come when everybody gets all tangled up in each other’s Razor in a freak scooter accident.
But disregarding the inherent danger associated with any conveyance that is not walking, the second example is even more hilarious than the Razor Scooter’s revival: Rollerblades. When oh when did they regain acceptability, I wonder?? These shits are getting almost as popular as scooters, and are nearly as annoying. Why, do you ask?
Well, the answer is two-fold. First, it seems that in the interim period during which Rollerblades were heinously mocked, most people have forgotten the tricky dance of coordination required of a ’blader. Most people, as a result, roll slower down an uneven sidewalk than they would normally walk, with both arms out to the side for balance.
… And then there are the others: the crazy, gung-ho rollerbladers who treat every to/fro as if they were one of the Mighty Ducks. You know what I’m talking about — the folks who pretend their commute to be life or death while leaning into every turn and aggressively stopping at “do not cross” signs. They usually pant louder than is necessary and wear rip-away Adidas pants.
(I guess an easier way to put it is that they really want be Apolo Anton Ohno, when everyone else around them is all, “Apolo Anton OH NO. I just want to walk in peace!”)
Mm, to be honest, kvetching about the absurd French popularity of rollerblades and Razors was really all I had in mind for this article. To fill the rest of my space, though, I’ll direct you to a sort-of-related product: the Tiddy Bear.
In case you haven’t chanced across this piece of work, I’ll break it down for you — it’s a teddy bear that one slides onto one’s seatbelt so as to relieve the pressure on a breastbone or shoulder. It’s not hard to make the leap between homophones “Tiddy” and … , so it’s worth noting that the teddy’s face is always hilariously caught in a placid bear-smile while facing one’s breastbone (or shoulder).
I think I have found a new product to send to the Island of Misfit Toys.
But let me ask you: All the single ladies! (and I guess the dudes too), would you really want to be stuck in a long car ride with your Tiddy Bear gleefully looking up at you as he gets his stuffed kicks? (Well, I guess that’s your call, really — you can do freaky ish on your own time.)
Still, considering the existence of Tiddy Bears and the resurgence of rollerblades and Razors, I think it’s time to ask ourselves a most obvious question: What has our world come to?!