Friday, December 4, 2009

Why is everything so super?

This has nothing to do with today’s post, but if you’re looking for a stocking stuffer for your favorite cyclist/backcountry skier, I would suggest the Melenzana scrap cap. Melanzana is a small outdoor clothing company based in Leadville, CO. I visited their facility before the race and picked up one of these scrap caps.

It’s perfect—it fits underneath a helmet if you want to wear it on a cold weather ride, and it’s just thin and breathable enough to be the right weight for skinning up a hill. And it’s only $12. I love mine. Here’s the catch, though: it’s not on their website. It’s called a scrap cap because they make them out of the scraps left behind from their shirts and what not, so I guess it isn’t really a production item. You’d have to call them (719.486.3245) to order one. I wear a size large in case you’re curious.

Remember back in 1980 when 7-eleven introduced the Big Gulp? It must have been a successful advertising campaign, because I remember two things about it: 1) the image of the giant cup rising out of a 7-eleven store; and 2) that I wanted to try one (in what was likely the first manifestation of my nascent diet coke addiction) but was shut down by my mother because I was in the first grade at the time.

Apparently this monstrosity of a beverage wasn’t enough because in subsequent years (I think by the time I was old enough to go to 7-eleven and buy one on my own), they had introduced the Super Big Gulp, a really original name since we already had the Super Bowl.

Since then it’s been a downward spiral where copywriters and journalists (who are really the same people, it just depends on who happens to be signing their checks at the moment) seem to have lost all their adjectives in a lexiconic black hole and can no longer come up with any other word to describe something that claims to exceed or outperform the original version, whether it actually does or not.

We have super-sized combo meals. Superpages, supershuttle, supercheats, superfoods, Super Tuesday, and Super Mario Brothers. Super has become so hackneyed that, redundant as it is, we can no longer describe something with its normal name, but have to add the super qualifier lest the object being described feel slighted for not meriting the super designation even when super no longer has any real meaning.

  Hence, attractive women with nice figures who make their living posing nearly nude or in avant-garde clothing are no longer just models, they’re supermodels. Really, because “model” wasn’t a flattering enough job description? Lest you think I exaggerate, might I remind you that America’s Next Top Model is a reality show intent on helping someone become a supermodel. Um, if you can become a “super” anything by winning a reality show, I maintain that the “super” part is superfluous.

My favorite super, though, is cycling’s super domestique. This one I can actually understand, because domestique isn’t exactly a flattering job description. Nevertheless, what the hell is a super domestique? Last I checked, if you weren’t a protected rider, you were a domestique. That role may change from race to race, but if you aren’t racing to win, you’re racing in support of someone else, which, by definition, makes you a domestique. I’m not sure how the supers are differentiated from the non-supers if they’re all riding in support.

So why does the cycling press need to add “super” to domestique? Just because someone was a promising junior or had a top ten finish in a grand tour doesn’t mean he’ll ever be a contender. Are riders’ egos really that fragile that they can’t handle being just a plain old domestique?

If that’s the case, then hire me. Because domestique still means I’m getting paid to ride my bicycle. I’ve never had the word “super” in my job title, so I certainly wouldn’t miss it on the pro tour.

If any pro doesn’t realize what a privilege that is, then he should have to spend a few weeks trying to squeeze in a ride between writing a functional spec, drafting a monthly report, or making a sales call. Oh, and he should also be required to buy his own bicycles. Because super or not, there are worse jobs than being a professional athlete.


  1. Maybe the domestiques added the prefix because they're so excited to be there.

    Were we going to make wish lists for Christmas, or should I just check your blog periodically? Melanzana scrap cap, Twilight, what else?

  2. I thought supermodels are models people identify by name, while regular models are the people in the weekly Target ads.

  3. FG, either way, they're still models. Which is my point. If you're not the protected rider, you're a domestique. Why do you need to be called super?

  4. Remember- 'Super Mario' Cippolini? Now he really was super!

  5. I wanna be a super geologist.