On my last post a reader submitted a question. It's the typical "I've got this friend" kind of thing I think. Here's the question.
"Someone I know asked me to relay this question:
I carry cones, tape measure, and chalk on my ride. I can't ride thru a parking lot without wondering what the spaces measure out to. I search 'You tube' for new patterns to ride. I think I am becoming a hard core cone monkey. Is there any cure?"
I thought I might share a little story that may shed some light on this situation.
Curious George has acquired a new hobby. As is prone to happen with many hobbies, the little monkey crossed a line without actually being aware of it. What was once a pleasant diversion has now become an obsession. To be honest, it's really more of a sickness. To be really blunt, it's now a sick addiction. What's worse, Curious George is only half of the equation. There's a partner in the addiction. The two feed each other to the point where the sum is worse than the total of its parts. C.G. is getting nothing more out of it than a sick satisfaction like a fisherman seeing how many times he can lure the same prize trout onto his hook. Not that fishing in and of itself is sick. I'm talking about the obsessive pursuit of the same prize over and over. The fish, in this case, isn't the one the worse for wear, interestingly enough. Despite being lured on to the hook every night the fish is developing skills valuable in the open ocean. C.G. really isn't aware of this. Nor is the fish really aware of C.G. They each play their role night after night for whatever gratification they receive. Their rewards are different but they both participate in the same ritual. Catch and release.
Oh, it all started innocently enough. As do many things that later end up as big trouble.
Curious George is a fairly cool cat. He rides a motorcycle. A few of his friends wanted to learn to ride so Curious George offered to help them out. One friend bought a Duck, one bought a Goose, and the other a Hog. For those not conversant in this language, that's a Ducati, a Moto Guzzi, and a Harley.
Rider training often begins in a parking lot with cones. So George took some chalk, some string, a tape measure, and some small cones to an empty parking lot. It was at this point that Curious George became a Cone Monkey. A name by which we will refer to him from now on. Cone Monkey set out some patterns and coached his friends. They were all so enthused about their successes that they decided to go out to supper. Soft drinks only, as they were riding. Cone Monkey decided to leave the cones on the parking lot. He would come back later and pick them up.
Imagine Cone Monkey's surprise at seeing this mysterious figure with a deeply tinted visor riding a motorcycle through the cone patterns he had set for his friends. Quickly ducking behind a nearby truck, Cone Monkey watched as the solitary figure ran the patterns over and over. Cone Monkey was sure he heard sporadic and slightly muffled cackles of delight coming from under the dark visor. Eventually the rider left the parking lot. Cone Monkey thought the cackle sounded like an old witch with both pleasure and evil delight ringing out. Cone Monkey thought the rider must be an Old Fart. Thus this becomes the story of the Cone Monkey and the Old Fart.
Being a monkey full of mischief, Cone Monkey thought hard about the situation. He wondered if the Old Fart would come back. Just in case, he set out another, more complicated cone pattern the next aftenoon. Then Cone Monkey hid himself in the fading light and waited.
Sure enough, the Old Fart returned. As he rode the more complicated cone pattern, the Old Fart's cackles of glee became more frequent. There was also a hint of triumph as he completed the ride. Both players in the game entered an eternal loop. Though neither was aware of it, yet.
As is often the case with progressive illnesses, both the Cone Monkey and the Old Fart show ever more serious symptoms as time goes on. Cone Monkey takes a perverse delight in luring the Old Fart into ever more complicated webs of cones. His glee is somewhat tempered by the fact that the Old Fart somehow manages to succeed night after night. Thus Cone Monkey is driven to continue to set cones in the hope that someday he can finally set a pattern that defeats the Old Fart. For this sickness there is no cure. It's the same sickness a lot of car drivers seem to show if you think about it.
Old Fart, in turn, delights in the challenge. He is not aware of who is setting these cones but doesn't want to look a gift monkey in the mouth, so to speak. Old Fart knows that challenging himself with these cones is vastly improving his riding skills for the street. Yes, riding cones in a parking lot can contribute directly to street skills. Old Fart knows this. Several trainers have told him that they can tell how good a rider is on the street by watching their low speed control. The sickness is that he can't ever call it good. Good enough is never good enough. He can't resist coming back to see what the next challenge is. Can he go to the next level, then the next, and so on? There is no cure for this sickness, either. One wonders if there should be. Perhaps this kind of sickness should be left to run its course. It's ultimately beneficial for the Old Fart. Except for the obsession part, of course.
Stop by the parking lot some evening. As long as either has the strength to move, you'll find the Cone Monkey and Old Fart engaged in their never ending battle.
Miles and smiles,