I rode scooters before scooters were cool.
When I bought my first bike, soon after the wheel was invented, I had my choice of three colors — black, white and red. Ditto for helmets. Mine bore an unsettling resemblance to the medieval football bucket worn by Jack Nicholson in Easy Rider.
A square metal basket on the back was my lone accessory. It looked dorky, but then so did I. Fortunately, I was too cool to care. [SIGNUP]
Back then, living in Fairmount — realtors call it the “Art Museum Area” for obvious reasons — I rode my scooter absolutely everywhere, and in every kind of weather, except for the occasional blizzard or torrential rain.
In Center City and its environs, I parked my scooter on the sidewalk, locked to a parking meter. I averaged about two tickets a year, no big whup. It was a small price to pay for the convenience of a guaranteed spot, day or night.
In my (delusional) mind, I was the ultimate urban warrior. That feeling was not shared by real bikers, who scoffed at my little putt-putt from astride their monster hogs. My scooter looked like two of their cycles had mated. Even the horn sounded insincere.
When we moved to the ‘burbs and its plentiful parking, I ditched the scooter. That was more than 10 years ago. I hadn’t thought about it much since then, until a few days ago, when I accompanied my Bella Vista-bound daughter on her mission to buy — guess what?
Boy, was I in for a reality check. Scooters are so hip, so popular, so in vogue, they’re marketed like motorized toys for third-generation Yuppies.
You could choke on the colors. Powder blue. Seafoam. Tangerine. Pink. Polka dot. Where are we, Bermuda? And the brand names! One of the most popular is called Buddy. As in, “I’m your buddy. Ride me.” To which I say, “We are not friends. Make me.”
Most shocking, of course, is the price tag. A good scooter can easily top $5,000, and that’s with minimum accessories. You could get a used car for five grand, but then it wouldn’t come with wicker flower baskets. When did scooters become so candy-ass femme, anyway?
Oh well. As usual, I missed this trend. The important thing is that scooters get you where you’re going with minimum hassle and maximum mileage. Up to 90 — yes, 90 — miles a gallon.
Note to self: Let this one ride.
GAIL SHISTER, TV columnist for the Inquirer for 25 years, teaches writing at Penn and is a columnist for tvnewser.com. She writes for The Philly Post on Tuesdays.