I used to be normal. About cars, about life. Really, I was.
As a kid, I was admittedly much more fascinated with mechanical things that went fast than with people, who were irritatingly inscrutable and forced me to spend way too much of my time listening to them drone on about organically-based drivel (such as history or botany or my sisters’ hurt feelings), when that time could be better spent ferreting out the minute changes to the latest J.C. Whitney catalog. But I was—generally speaking—normal.
But then something irreversibly warped my pre-adolescent, developing brain: Mattel Farbs.
Farbs were a sub-line of Hot Wheels which consisted of little cartoony guys who had either voluntarily allowed various mechanical parts to be implanted into their bodies, cyborg-style, for the thrill of it, or were subjected to some weird, transmogrifying accident that could reasonably be blamed on some specific, unforeseen interaction between DDT, LSD, STP and a rapid encounter with an armco barrier.
I was simultaneously fascinated with the concept behind Farbs, and deeply disturbed. I couldn’t quite come to terms with how the interaction between person and car was supposed to work. Could they move out of that position and stand up? Could they use their hands, or were their limbs permanently terminated by a wheel and tire? And for that matter, how did the drivetrain connect to the wheels? Did they still have to eat, or did they just run totally on gasoline? Could they fill up their own gas tank, or did someone need to do that for them? If they ran out of gas, would they be able move? …fall asleep? …die?
The only one I ever bought with my own money was Myles Ahead. He was not only the least similar to the others, but also seemed to be having the most fun (…except on gravel roads—Ouch!) Furthermore, he seemed to be in the most comfortable position. How did those others stay like that? Wouldn’t their muscles get tired? I know I wouldn’t be able to hold my butt up off the pavement after a few miles.
I knew that I wasn’t supposed to ask all those probing questions, and most kids didn’t; you just took the little toy at face value and shot it across the driveway or down the little strip of plastic track and that was that. But I couldn’t stop imagining what my life would be like if *I* were a Farb. Blasting down the road like that seemed like the most fun single activity possible, but nothing would be worth giving up the variety of other pursuits life had to offer. And I couldn’t deny that on some level, it had to be really, really, painful. At least until your bones and skin healed around the mechanical parts and you built up some calluses near the really hot parts.
It seemed equal parts awesomosity and horrific torture. I guess it prepared me for a life of riding motorcycles…which isn’t actually that dissimilar after all, when you think about it.