Saturday, March 5, 2011

When Knievel Was King

Oh yeah, I was totally and completely an Evel Knievel fan.

What? Like you weren’t? Right. Only if you weren’t born yet. And still, even then...

Of course, at first, my mom wasn’t too sure about this . . . fascination. After all, his name was “Evel.” It couldn’t have been more clear. But it wasn’t clear at all. Turns out his name was more of a gimmick. Hyperbole. And it wasn’t actually “Evil,” right? It was “Evel.” Vowels make all the difference. Turns out he was a nice guy. At least as far as Evel’s connection to me as a kid, he was an all American daredevil who jumped motor cycles over rows of cars, trucks or whatever else he could find, in ever increasing numbers while telling us kids to stay clear of drugs.

He set world records, jumping over things with that motor cycle. It was magical, my friend. Magical.

I didn’t know much about what he did with his private life. That was the stuff of legends. All that mattered was the joy of waiting for him to jump, then the joy of watching him approach the ramp, then the joy of seeing the jump and seeing him land. When he crashed, it really upset me. I wanted him to make it. I didn’t want him hurt. It really was all about the jump, the risk, the daring do, and the flash of a smile when he was through.

For Christmas one year, I received a treasured gift. It was an Evel Knievel action figure with stunt bike. The most popular toy in the land of America at the time. It made the toy company over 300 million dollars. Viva Americana! Oh yes. It was a little Evel on a little motorcycle that you wound up with this round lever on a little red plastic platform. Zim zim ZIM, louder and louder. You would launch Evel and he would ride and jump over a ramp, over whatever you might put in his path.

Here’s what happened.

Someone broke my Evel. And when they did, they just shrugged their shoulders and walked away, like it didn’t matter. And no one did anything about it. It was not replaced. It was not fixed. I was left holding the sad and tattered remains with no hope of justice.

Now THAT was evil.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

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