Christmas in July

Aaron always suspected that as you got older, the world would just naturally tend to lose it’s magic. He remembered the first time he got any real proof of his theory: a couple of nights before Christmas, when little Aaron was just 5 years old, he saw something that would change his outlook for the rest of his life. It was his father, as he came back from the store and entered the house, there was a long, white and very fake beard dangling from a supermarket bag. They had a long talk that night, Aaron and his parents, about how and why everybody pretended Santa was real. Was it all done for little Aaron? Didn’t they think he would find out? After all, he was a smart kid, and he was already 5 and three months. His parents begged him to not tell his little sister, Daphne. She was only 3 and half, and she loved Christmas. Aaron ended up agreeing to keep up the act. He demanded the gifts in advance.

Skeptical and cynical, young Aaron took any new information with a grain of salt, and as he discovered more about the world that surrounded him and the objects within it, it all became less interesting, duller, greyer and more mechanical. There were almost no awe inspiring things for Aaron as he graduated from college with a degree in mechanical engineering. He had gone to learn all about how things are made, how they work and what makes them tick. With every new discovery, a bit of mystery and magic dissipated into the cold, uncaring cosmos, revealing the inner workings of obscure mechanisms and chemical reactions that had previously fascinated him. He’d got himself a job in the automotive industry working endless models and physics simulations for chassis and suspension dynamics. Coming home to his garage after work, it just wasn’t that interesting anymore. He had helped develop the suspension setup on the bikes that sat in his garage, he knew it inside and out, but the fascination he had with motorcycles when he was younger had all but disappeared.

Aaron sat in his garage, staring at the bikes, the phone rang. It was Daphne, who by now was a beautiful young woman who was fascinated by many different, esoteric and completely unrelated things. She was one of those “spiritual” people, her house cluttered (she would say “decorated”) with artifacts, her shelves littered with crystals and souvenirs, and her university workbooks embellished by elaborate mandalas of the seven Chakras mixed with scribbles and doodles of flying unicorns. “Have you seen what I sent you? The event, this summer, at Laguna.” - “Uhhm, no… “ Aaron wasn’t into events, nor was he particularly attentive to what people sent him over social media. “Well, it’s cool, check it out! Love ya, bye!” That was the end of the call. Aaron tapped the blue “f” icon reluctantly, and surely, there it was: “race of legends, July 12th, Laguna Seca Raceway”. He tapped “interested” although he wasn’t sure he really was, and went on with his daily life.

A few months later, Aaron was eating something that resembled a fettuccine with mushroom sauce at the office break room, as he was disturbed out of his thoughts by a notification: “Events happening near you tomorrow” it was July 11th, and Aaron had completely forgotten about the Race of Legends. “Ah, what the hell” he thought to himself, he might as well go. It’s not like he had anything better to do on a sunday. When he got there, people were already beginning to form a crowd around the main building, where the different teams were getting ready for the race. There were 12 riders, all MotoGp and SBK legends from the past, who had come to promote this new electric bike championship.

People were flocking to the pits to catch a glimpse of their favourite rider. Some had opened riding schools, others spent their days fishing, but all of them were there, and it felt like Christmas. Aaron remembered reading about them in motorcycle magazines, looking at their faces smiling from the upper steps of colorful podiums, spraying the crowd with champagne. They were heroes to him back then, throwing their gloves to the roaring crowd as if they were imbued with some kind of special power or meaning, or magic. They all had their special rituals, before the race, meditation, superstition. Aaron smirked at the memory, how he too used to pet his bike on the tank before he’d go out on the track. He zipped up his suit and got ready for the little test ride round the track with the Zero Sf/r. It was a very good looking bike. People around him were chatting with excitement as Bruce Weiss, the legendary AMA superbike rider was about to lead them on a few laps around this fabled track. People had hoped to get the bike he rode on the previous session, as if it would magically endow them with some of his superior riding skill.

Aaron had an air of accomplishment around him, as he fastened his helmet. He was now about to share the track with his childhood idol, as funny as it sounds. Aaron didn’t tremble with excitement, nor did his heartbeat rise as Bruce gave them a brief explanation of the bikes. They went on to about six laps of the track and Bruce was sometimes leading, sometimes in the middle and sometimes at the back of the pack, providing useful indications masterfully, by hand gestures. At the first “thumbs up” Aaron began to get somewhat excited for the approval, somehow that thumb meant a lot, more than Aaron would have liked to admit.

When they came back to the pitlane, just as he was ready to get off the bike, Aaron felt a gloved hand land on his left shoulder, and a familiar voice coming through the slightly open visor of a custom painted Pista Gp-R helmet: “nice work kid, you’ve got some skills”. Aaron stared Bruce directly in the eyes, and for the first time since he was five years and three months old, didn’t know what to say.

Civ Mugello