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 While the motorcycling community has taken a strong, predictable position against the mini-bike ban, Kevin Rhotusan
bunch of retards.' Blunders and problems need to go away. This is embarrassing for our nation."
Temecula Valley News - February 18, 2009
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."