Friday, September 19, 2014

Stingray T-shirt and the Ecstatic Recall of a Summer Afternoon

2014 T-shirt of a 1969 bicycle

The shirt was on sale. Close out, in fact. No actual Schwinn Stingray had resembled in in color, but oddly, the spackled monochromatic imprint seemed lifted straight from my own neurons.

Mine had been sky blue. Also, mine did not have a rear derailleur. I think it was probably a J39-3 Deluxe Sting-ray, according to the catalog.

When I stare at the bucket saddle, the swoopy handlebars, that ill-placed stick shift, I am transported back to ramps made of boards and tires, neighborhood races around the pond, throwing the bike down on one friend's lawn not worrying about it being there when I came back. The memories are photo-sharp.

But I'm not looking at this as a nostalgia shirt. Instead, charged by the ecstatic recall of those ancient memories, as if glowing from this spackled purple print, fueled muscle memories of those frantic spins, I'm re-minded: you're wearing a purple shirt, dude, don't take it too seriously. Or rather, shed all these accreted scales of  years and age and things by anchoring to the mind of a beginner riding that cool bike somewhere fated only by whim and fireflies. I rode mine through the sand blows of midwestern earthquakes. Beneath elms, after muskrats, and frogs. Down to a river sometimes.

Beginner's mind. Keep riding, kid, keep riding.


  1. Replies
    1. Alas, Stingray days are gone forever, if only due to CPSC regulations.

  2. There's always the GABA Swap in Tucson, Steve, where you could pick up some nice Swap Stingrays.


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