It took Hunter S. Thompson seventeen years to work up the guts to kill himself, then it took him four days more. In his famous “Football Season Is Over” suicide note, he wrote “67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted.” He thought about it for about ninety-six hours, then he put the gun to his head. Readers, as I approach my fiftieth birthday I am starting to understand the appeal of that. You can feel the machine winding down inside you. Two weeks ago, at the inaugural event of an Ohio-wide pumptrack championship, my recently-turned-twelve-years-old son beat me in raw time, 58.17 seconds to 60.20 seconds. The hilarious part is that he came off the track absolutely furious with his performance, which nabbed him second place in the 11-13 category, while I finished my run thinking I’d perhaps ridden over my head just a bit. (For the record, I was the oldest rider at the race, and not the slowest, or even all that close to being the slowest.)
Faced with a future in which each day is a slightly lesser child of the day before, I can’t say I’m like 100% opposed to calling time on my own season, although I think I’d want to do it via a re-creation of the Snake River jump or something like that instead of just nipping off and shooting myself like the cow in a Douglas Adams book. Alas, I have a child to raise and a couple of novels to write. The former still requires a few years and the latter can’t start until I leave my current job. Nor can I expect a deus ex machina to pull my card for me; yeah, I’m a little overweight but I’m in remarkable health and I still exercise about 300-400 “intense” minutes a week with no trouble, according to my little Garmin fitness nanny.
This is what I don’t have: a plan to fill these years to come, or much motivation in one direction or another. Until I saw the above car at the Bonhams auction on Amelia Island this past week, and realized what I want to do.