Dashed Dreams of Garage Greatness

On The Pedals | March 2018
By By Jason Giacchino

When I was younger, a good portion of my budding identity centered around the concept of my garage. Of course by “my” I actually mean “my parents’” but that is merely a small part of the optimism of youth. In those days I looked on disapprovingly at how they were running the show: Shelves littered with chemicals of unknown origin. Cars front and center, dripping slush and road salt audibly onto the concrete floor. My bikes squeezed tightly between the rear wall and the front bumper of their Chrysler. In short they used the place like a… garage.

Back in those pre-internet days I was a product of a very heavy magazine intake; biking, ATVs, auto racing. I would scrutinize photos of the garages of professional racers across varying disciplines with great admiration. Most were ridiculously spacious; almost like those never-been-lived-in celebrity homes you see on MTV Cribs.

A few seemed functional, with useful shelving and cork-boards of organized tools in the work area. Every once in a while though, you’d encounter the type of garage that almost looked as if it had been copied and pasted from a teenage boy’s greatest garage fantasy. -Yes some teenage boys have garage fantasies. These were pristine to the type of levels where eating off the black and white checkered floor wasn’t only a possibility, it may even have been cleaner than your dining room table. That is if you could bear the reflection the deep gloss the tiles generated of the overhead lighting of course.

Tools were nowhere to be found, instead replaced by gorgeous rolling Craftsman and Snap-On drawer units that appeared straight out of the sales brochures. These here were the type of bike tenements that a man would need; the type where if your wife threw you out to sleep in the garage one night, she might actually be doing you a favor.

After studying such pics over Chef Boyardee, I’d return to my parents’ crowded attached 2-car unit and place fists on hips in this will never do theatrics. “Some day,” said young I, “I will achieve my show garage dream.”

As life tends to, I went off and busied myself, fulfilling many other teenage dreams. Like the one about student loans oh and the one about not following your girlfriend to Akron Ohio to instead graduate college. Some years later, dreams about mortgages and taxes came to fruition also. Somewhere around there, the opportunity to become a garage-owner myself presented itself. So I did the right thing and had constructed a multilevel, checkered floor masterpiece straight out of Jay Leno’s adult dreams.

Just kidding. But I did eventually buy a garage of my own. And in effort to steer clear of all of the perceived mistakes of my parents’ garage, I went ahead and made all new ones. Mine would be detached. Of course having it clean across the yard meant here we are 12-years later and I still don’t have electricity running to it. Mine would be big. 40’x30’ but guess what? That’s really a lot of space to heat. Especially without electricity. Also another compromise in having so big a structure was foregoing concrete floors in favor of dirt. I wish I could tell you where the construction company got the dirt they used for the task but my guess would be perhaps the desert. Not only was it ridden with rocks (that I’ve since sifted and removed) but it’s completely unpackable and subject to dust storms. Some days I half expect to find a cactus growing out there.

Everything stored there is on tarps. These tend to collect oil, which then get covered in dust from the floor whenever the breeze passed through. In short, never mind checkered floors. I’d have been better off with ground assault millings the highway department dumps behind the town park.

The building’s distance from my driveway ensures my cars never end up in there, especially in winter. So my bikes certainly have room to breathe as had been envisioned in my youth. Corners are packed with garden implements, rusted and dusty. Shelves are slowly becoming littered with unmarked bottles of chemicals of unknown origin. Somehow the only thing I managed to retain from my dad’s garage was this.

When the time for maintenance arrives, I usually take the bikes outside to work on them - thus defeating one of the key purposes of having garage in the first place. Not only is the lighting better but you don’t get that weird dirt, sand, dust or whatever it is all over you.

The last time I was out there I saw a mouse making its way slowly around the perimeter of the building. So chiselled and bold was this rodent, presumably due to living in the harsh environment, that it didn’t even scurry in terror as I made all sorts of noise starting the lawnmower. Instead it sort of hopped along gracefully, casually checking me out to make sure I wasn’t a mirage. I don’t know, based on the intelligence in its eyes and the way it moved, maybe it was a tiny kangaroo. The place is eerily reminiscent of the Outback.

So in short I like to look at my current garage as a bit of work in progress, more of a starting point than a destination. It’s all probably for the best that I never achieved another teenage dream of mine in becoming a professional racer. I’d have to take the magazine photographers over to my parents’ garage.

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