Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Courting Danger

I don't really like safety.  There, I've said it.

One of the great things about hot rods (other than that they are loud, fast, and cool looking) is that they are just a tad dangerous.  That is why they draw the attention of adrenaline junkies such as myself.

I do understand both the feelings and the logic of those who are more risk-averse than myself.  I just can't seem to feel it the same way they do.  And they, in turn, do not understand the fact that I am drawn to situations in which there is an element of risk. 

Yesterday some friends, who had been without heat in their house for four days, called me with an urgent request.  The man was coming to their Hamtramck house to turn on the gas, but they were delayed while helping a relative, and were trapped out of town.  They asked me to go over to the house and let the gas man in.  "But I have no key!" I objected.  Oh, you can just climb in the front window and let yourself in that way.  This is not something I was at all comfortable doing.  So ... I did it.  Partially to help them, and partially for the thrill of it.

It is exactly as I wrote the other day, here:
I need to feel myself a rebel in some sense, and part of a conspiracy. At the same time, I need to feel that my actions are righteous, and that I am fighting on the side of the angels.
And this "mission" filled the bill quite nicely.  It was a mission to help some friends not freeze at night ("fighting on the side of the angels":  CHECK!), but at the same time it was breaking into a house in broad daylight in a not-very-nice neighborhood ("feel myself a rebel in some sense": CHECK!).
But I was supposed to be talking about hot rods, wasn't I?  One of my (and my son Eliot's) heroes is Wild Willie Borsch.  You will notice in these photographs that, though drag racing is intended to be a straight-line sport, the car is usually sideways.  Do you think Wild Willie got out of the throttle during those crazy losses of control?  Not on your life.  Then he would have been "Safe Willie" Borsch, or perhaps "Mild Willie" Borsch.

In summary, I don't want to hurt the people around me.  I don't want to die before my time.  But if you are going to be my friend, you are going to have to watch me get sidewise every now and again.  I can't live any other way.