Meet Kevin
Kevin Rhotusan is not unlike most 15-year-old boys learning
to use the potty by thumbing through a book filled with letters
and numbers and pictures and stuff. Kevin is, as my Uncle
Woody used to say, a couple shells short of the walnut bushel
basket and whatnot. Like Kevin, at an early age Uncle Woody
took to Atomic Number 82, a/k/a Potosi Pure. Though decades
apart in age, they both share an addiction to
lead.

Kevin's dependence has lasted for much of his young life. It all
started in his grandfather's basement with an Athearn GP45
model train engine, filled with extra lead weights for better
traction on an HO-scale layout. The spare tube-shaped
weights on the basement workbench attracted 4-year-old
Kevin like a welfare mother to Section 8 housing.
So smooth,
he thought.
Something with such a dull finish must be tasty
like Fruit Roll-ups!
 In a matter of weeks, Kevin had torn apart
every toy he owned, searching for concealed bits of Missouri's
finest. At the age of 7, the effects of long-term addiction were
already evident: gray tongue, an insistence on being
photographed only in private school polo shirts, and a nearly
continuous humming of
Take On Me by the 1980's musical
group A-Ha.

In 2002, after several years of experimenting with his cousin's
collection of Tickle Me Elmo dolls, Kevin discovered the source
of quite possibly the most potent lead known to the free
world: mini-bikes. These pint-sized motorcycles, with their
lead-rich valve stems and spark plugs, threw Kevin's life into
such a downward spiral that even after 3 years of rehab, one
scant whiff of a 14-inch tire is enough to convulse his limbs for
days.

Despite his devastating dependence, there is hope for Kevin.
The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 called
for bans on many toys with unacceptable lead content,
starting in February 2009. Among these banned toys was
Kevin's powerful nemesis. Finally, as motorcycle dealers were
forced to remove their inventories of new mini-bikes from
showroom floors, Kevin's temptation to suck on crank cases
may someday be a distant memory. However, the ban's
enforcer, the Consumer Product Safety Commission ("CSPC"),
faces many hurdles in ridding the United States of motorcycles
for little people. Take Jeremy Howe, sales manager of
Callaway Motorsports in Riverside, California:

    "On a global perspective, I can only imagine other
    countries looking at our government entities and saying,
    'What a bunch of retards.' Blunders and problems need to
    go away. This is embarrassing for our nation."
    Temecula Valley News - February 18, 2009

While the motorcycling community has taken a strong,
predictable position against the mini-bike ban, Kevin Rhotusan
welcomes the support of the CSPC. "The government fixes
everything," said Kevin from his house in Teays Lick,
Minnesota. "Like the economy and stuff. Now they're helping
fix me! Meeeeeeeee!!!!! And Juniper my pet sea monkey!!!! He
lives in my belly. Yaaay!!"

The lead industry and its local self-interests also oppose the
ban. The aptly named Tom Self, a Missouri State
Representative from a region once considered the lead capital
of the world, has organized a
letter-writing campaign which
threatens to end the mini-bike ban. "We need every available
rider, Mother, Father, Grandmother, Grandfather, Aunt, Uncle
and any relative, friend, neighbor, business or personal
contact or any person who is a legal U.S. citizen to get
involved," said
Mr. Self in a shout-out to all human beings.

But Kevin and his family remain unfazed by the ban's
opposition. His mother, Rhotunda Rhotusan, offered a glimpse
of hope for his son: "Last year at this time, Kevin could not
use the potty like a normal boy. The lead had stretched his
colon so, so far...he would just cry and cry." Holding back
tears, Mrs. Rhotusan continued, "Now we think of the future.
We dream of traveling to Ruby Falls and seeing
Steak and
Potatoes in person."

Hope, indeed.