The University of Biker Mice from Mars

I am suddenly getting daily automated email updates from a decade-old Yahoo! group called “The University of Biker Mice from Mars”. 

I have no recollection of signing up for this online community (dedicated to the mediocre children’s cartoon series, which began in 1993 amid vocal public dissatisfaction that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles “just didn’t cut it” in the Cheese Puns department). Nor can I think of any practical reason to have done so.

And I’ve got to be honest: this troubles me.

First and foremost, the title: “University of Biker Mice from Mars”? An entire academic institution? What greater theoretical understanding can possibly be gleaned, in today’s complex post-Reagan world, from these anthropomorphic rodent Martians or their wicked-sweet rides?

There’s no subtext to dig into here, only text: their family values, their love of the open road, their defiance of corporate greed; it’s all out in the open. The Biker Mice from Mars wore their hearts on their sleeve(less vest)s.

Secondly, is it not fishy that the study of these free-wheeling fraternal fire-blazers – whose scaly alien nemesis, Lawrence Limburger, posed as the human CEO of a major corporation – are being forced into the rigid, authoritarian structure of academia? Why did I not ask these pointed questions when I (apparently, for some reason) enrolled?

And this is what bothers me the most. I genuinely do not know what motivated my past self to join this group. I cannot vouch for his actions. He is a stranger to me.

The great Joan Didion once beautifully wrote that “we are all well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not… Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mid’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends”.

I have kept my past self shut out far too long. Truth be told, I have not always been fair on him. I wince at his past mistakes all too easily, no matter how much they have shaped me for the better. I know he was doing his best, but I simply can’t bring myself to open that door and acknowledge him as a part of me. 

Perhaps he knew that would happen. Perhaps he looked on me more kindly than I deserve. And perhaps, just perhaps, he sensed there would be another way to reach me; to reunite us; to send a heartfelt peace offering through time via membership of a weirdly-named fan community.

Because when it comes to Biker Mice from Mars, Past Alastair and I are in perfect sync. We didn’t watch it much. We didn’t even especially like it. But the thread of misguided nostalgia tethers us together, draws us closer to together until we are sitting side by side as brothers on front of the television. 

Our hopes and priorities and words and conditions for happiness may not line up, nor should they. But we will always agree on character rankings.

1. Modo is the best by virtue of his metallic arm.
2. Vinnie is a cool dude, but his interspecies womanising does not sit right.
3. Throttle, the leader, is condemned to the awkward middle ground between his more emotionally extreme brothers, like Leonardo before him.

When the Biker Mice shout their catchphrase “let’s rock… and ride!”, we chant along as one voice.

And we’re not the only ones.

The daily Yahoo! emails continue, their messages as simple as they are mysterious. 1 new member2 new members. What is bringing them back after all these years? I have no desire to find out what’s on the other side of that hyperlink. It remains an amorphous, abstract realm: sealed off, at any rate, by a long-forgotten Yahoo! login. I simply feel the ripples. Something over there, something long dormant, is stirring. Growing. Alive. 

In the darkness, an echo of footsteps: those of expensive shoes on a wooden floor. A click. Light floods the hallway, illuminating newly-displaced dust particles. Enter the chatter of students; the scuffling of books. The University of Biker Mice from Mars has reopened for another semester. There is much to be learned.

A new student enters, her steps tentative as she glances about, taking it all in. Following her gaze, we tilt up to the institution’s lavish marble archway. Its Latin insignia translates loosely as follows:

“In this wild and woolly universe,
there are three things you can count on:
your brains, your bros and your bike.”