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Nora Ephron’s mom was right, part 3

March 26, 2010
Flipflop dude

Dude, it's 37°F out here! (Orin O'Neill photo)

It was cold on 4th Avenue, but there was a guy in shorts and flip-flops waiting with the rest of us. The Seattle Homeless Day Shelter, aka the Seattle Public Library Main Branch, didn’t open until 10:00 am.

I had most of a day to kill. The new tire wouldn’t arrive until early afternoon, and the number of components on a Vespa GTS that must be removed in order to gain access to the rear wheel means installation is an hour, minimum. I hope the people who design the replacement for the Vespa GTS will keep the original design brief—front and rear wheels that can be easily removed by the owner, without special tools—in mind.

Luckily, I kept my Seattle Public Library card. A current one will get you 90 minutes of computer time on one of the many, many networked computers on the library’s 5th floor.

More computers than books

The bond issue that gave Seattle’s neighborhoods wonderful remodeled (in a few cases, new) libraries also resulted in Rem Koolhaas’ downtown acid trip, a building that makes a far better set for a science-fiction movie than a library. Its most aggravating feature is the scattering of tantalizing stacks of books in places you can’t reach from where you’re seeing them.

I used up my 90 minutes (most of which working on this here blog) and left. It’s not even lunchtime, so I thought I’d stroll down to the Pike Place Market and say hi to our friend Chuck.

This was my first time back in Seattle since landing in Portland last August. I always used to say I stayed because it’s the only place that ever felt like home, but at this moment in time I say to myself, I may as well have been walking on Mars.

1201 Third Avenue tower

Downtown Seattle is a great place to live, if you’re a perigrine falcon. There are more agitated people, well-to-do, and not. More expensively dressed, anorexic women. More jerks in German luxury cars, coming within millimeters of running over pedestrians in crosswalks.

It’s been said a million times, you can’t go home again. I guess Thomas Wolfe really was right.

I get to the Market, but our friend Chuck is not in his usual spot. He tells me business is slack, and I suppose there are times when it’s just not worth the effort, especially if you can’t be sure you’ll even cover your stall rent.

The legs are like rubber bands, and I have found walking with only part of a right foot rather more tiring. Luckily, there’s a bench halfway between Pike Place and 1st Avenue.

After watching a woman wearing a dress she might well have bought new in the early ’70s loading a Ford conversion van with items from an antique store that looked like they’d originally been purchased from Kmart in about 1974, my attention was drawn by the sound of a 2-stroke scooter.

Aprilia scooter

Most scooters you see being ridden two-up in Seattle are 50s. I don’t quite understand why that is, but it is what it is.

I could kill no more time, and my cell phone battery was dying, so I decided to check on the GTS in person. Luckily, you can get to Scoot About on the SLUT, so I strolled down Stewart Street to the Westlake Transit Center.

When the streetcar went into service, the joke was you could get anywhere on the route faster by walking. Seattle Weekly even recruited a marathon runner to race it. I think the race was a draw.

Now that the operators have had a year-plus of seat time, they’re confident enough to give their vehicles some stick. We’re at Terry and Mercer in no time.

The tire has arrived; it will be installed as soon as Susan and Tad finish with a red LX, the parts of its transmission on a table awaiting reassembly.

After nursing a grande iced mocha at Caffe Ladro, my ability to kill time seriously diminished, I stroll back over to Scoot About. The GTS is parked in front of the entryway, the colored stripes of its new rear Kenda K413 visible like beacons in the late afternoon shadows. Susan called to let me know it was ready as I was walking, but I didn’t hear the phone ring.

I originally thought about getting a different brand of tire, but decided to go with another Kenda. I want to see if the tread fissure was a fluke, or if this is an issue that the company should address. Also, it will be good to have new tires on both wheels.

Safety Ed saddles up

Later on, Safety Ed and I head out for dinner. “I would think riding is the last thing you’d want to do,” he says. Back to Portland, no, but to Buca di Beppo, certainly. It’s a nice evening, and Ed’s new Buddy Series Italia needs to accumulate some miles. Favicon

One Comment
  1. March 29, 2010 9:30 am

    Dear Orin:

    All’s well that ends well. I really enjoyed the little tour through Seattle. You never really can go back home.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

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