HEL-YES-MET: Sacrificing looks for brains

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Michelle Roberts

So I need to buy a bike helmet, and I’m not exactly a helmet guy. I mean, I’m anti-brain injury and all that – I’m totally pro-brain. But helmets are just not for me. I know some dudes actually look good in a helmet. Some guys can strap a hunk of molded plastic and shock-resistant foam to their noggins and actually look better. Not me. If you watched me put a bike helmet onto my head, you’d gasp as I transformed from a ruggedly dashing man into Commander Dork Shorts, First Class. You’d think some sort of evil voodoo was afoot.

Right now, you’re probably shaking your head and yelling at the magazine in your hands, saying, “But Mike! You’d look good with anything on your head! Your handsome good looks and snazzy vibes could make anything, even a pageboy haircut, look great.”

I’ve shopped around a little bit for cool-looking helmets featuring sweet designs – anything that might wrench your attention away from the geekly shape of my helmeted head. Blistering flame decals? No good. Skull and crossbones graphics? No help. Full on unicorn with horn and mane? Almost.

I found all of these helmets in Target’s kids’ biking section, so none of them fit me anyway. Unfortunately, most of the adult helmets are either dark grey or dark blue. And many of them have blinking lights and tiny rearview mirrors attached. No thank you very much.

Right now, you’re probably shaking your head and yelling at the magazine in your hands, saying, “But Mike! You’d look good with anything on your head! Your handsome good looks and snazzy vibes could make anything, even a pageboy haircut, look great.”

While I appreciate your affection, stop yelling. You sound like an idiot. And while the depth of my expertise in personal grooming is indeed quite deep, headwear is my one weakness. The Kryptonite to my Superman. The yellow to my Green Lantern. The chocolate to my dog. The raging pimple to my senior class prom attendee.

It’s just genetics – Mike plus helmet equals gagging sounds. It must be the shape of my head or something. I guess The Universe just wants to see my magnificent hair, and who am I to argue?

Wait, did I even mention why I need to buy a bike helmet? (Answer: no.) Well, both my kids (and my wife) are old enough now to go on long bike rides together, and they all really want to do that, and so do I, but I can’t very well tell them to wear a helmet if I’m not wearing one myself.

So, while my visions of flying down the bike trail, screaming ZOOM! in a gleefully high-pitched voice only dogs and spy satellites can hear might be tarnished by the image of bike helmet on my head ... it must be done.

I’ve always known that helmets are great for stopping your head from bashing into hard stuff. But now I must join my wife in leading by example so as to stop my kids’ heads from bashing into hard stuff. Apparently, the one thing that trumps my inability to look awesome in a hemet is my own offspring.

See, I need my kids to wear helmets while they bike so their very important brains stay safe, and as that rascal Carl Jung says, “Children are educated by what the grown-up is and not by his talk.”

So a helmet I must have. If any of you know of some headgear that might somehow keep dork levels to a minimum (and keep my hairstyle to a maximum), email a link to mike@volumeone.org. If I buy it, I promise to post a picture of myself wearing it on the internet.

And if I still look like a geek, it’ll be all your fault.

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