For forty dollars, I bought an old Centurion road bike for my brother for Christmas. I thought it would be a fun brother-to-brother project, wherein we could refurbish the bike together while I taught him about the basics of bicycle mechanics, the satisfaction of using hand tools and how to appreciate classic rock.
Boy, was I wrong.
I should have just bought him the new Ok Go album and left my holiday aspirations at the thought of some brotherly gift reception like: “Cool… I like this band. Thanks, Joe.”
Instead I’ve been nagging my brother for a month to come over to my house and work on the bike. In retrospect, I should have considered that spending three or four Saturday afternoons with the greasy innards of a ragged-out old bicycle probably would not be the most appealing way for an angst-ridden eighteen-year-old to spend his weekends.
But, finally, he ostensibly had nothing better to do and agreed to come over this past Saturday.
We spent the day dismantling the bike, cleaning the components and prepping the frame for a new paint job with a thorough sanding.
Although the bike did have a classically “rad” paint job from the late 1980s (complete with squiggly lines of hot pink and fluorescent green), I decided to sand the bike down to its steel underbelly.
Ultimately, I want to paint it only with clear coat. With the imperfections and welds of the steel frame showing through the clear coat, the bike should come out looking pretty tough and utilitarian – as befits a forty-dollar road warrior.
After a couple hours wrenching, I couldn’t help noticing my brother’s characteristic teenage sarcasm slipping away. In my own mind, I was conscious of a certain amount of pride in being the older brother with the knowledge of what to do and in the possession of the right tool to do it. (Of course, having the right tool was largely due to Christmas money from Dad from the year previous and the extensive Craftsman wrench set I had bought with that money.)
On the classic rock front, he’s not yet into the Rolling Stones or Hendrix, but I got him to start working his way back through the decades. Now he’s borrowing some of my 1990s cds, including Pearl Jam’s Ten, the self-titled 311 album and the obligatory Nirvana albums.
It’s difficult to realize, but the kid was only three when Nevermind hit.