Alan Peterson may want hands, but it’s clear he doesn’t need them. Photo: Lance Dawes

Timbre #36

Can’t Guarantee

“I need that.” I find myself bleating every day in reference to about a half million things. And it’s nothing more than a harmless lie, really. At the very worst, a thinly-veiled expression of “want” as opposed to “need” — a self-destructive bark about skills or food or cars or …

Wait. I think the UPS man just drove up.

No. Sorry. It was the garbage man.

They must get their whips tuned at the same place.

That’s what I’m talking about, though. I stopped what I was doing because I was convinced that I needed to have what the UPS man had. I really don’t need anything (not much, anyway), and the universe has techniques of reminding me of that fact almost every time I believe otherwise.

I thought I needed the cardboard box full of whatever, but I was wrong. The garbage-man-as-a-metaphor thing was just a bonus.

What’s right, then? Well, I have my own secret and vague ideas about that, but there are two factors that I know to be true:

1) There are things I want.

2) I have little built-in self-control.

Luckily, I’m pretty lazy. Truth be told, that’s the only thing that really keeps me in check. Or is it my lack of willpower? My procrastinating tendencies? A cocktail of all three, perhaps?

But, yeah, more about me: I was thinking, “So what if I don’t have anything to type here this week? Would my keyboard get up and walk out? Would the local news do a story on my lack of determination? Would the great-big glass in the sky suddenly identify as half empty? Or (gasp!) half full?

I know those are stupid questions, by the way. I wrote them. I’ll do that sometimes … the thing with the stupid questions. I’ll use the phone, too. I’ll straighten my desk. I’ll do or think of almost anything to not do or think of what I’m supposed to be doing and thinking. For example, I have this quarterpipe in my backyard. It’s narrow. It’s really small. The trannys are a bit suspect. And it’s autumn as fuck here right now. Rainy and cold. “Well below average,” the Weather Channel says.

I’ve been skating that thing, saying to myself, “Damn this is narrow, small, and kinked, and, damn, it’s really cold. But I think I’d rather do this than laundry or dishes or bills or work.”

And it’s been that way for a while. Over thirty years now.

But what if you or I or we didn’t really feel like skating this month? Would it really change anything at all?

I know what would happen, and it’s not what logic tells us.

I’d still avoid life’s boring, yet practical shit. I’d steer clear of all of it like the plague, but instead of skateboarding, I’d look for new ways to help me shirk my responsibilities. I can’t guarantee that it’d be good stuff, though. As a matter of fact, it’d almost certainly involve something bad for me.

And if there truly is a skate culture, that’s the real foundation of it, right there: going with the lesser of all evils paired with full-blown avoidance.

Do we need it?

Well we don’t need trouble, illness, pent-up hostility, or a hole in the head. And if we’re looking at skateboarding as a necessity or a way we can escape a bit of real lameness, then please, amend “food, shelter, and clothing” to include a Smith grind now and then, and let the UPS man deliver all he’s got.

Hold on. Did you hear that?

I think it was the Fed Ex guy this time.

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