The Redhead made me do it
I must be the only guy in America whose wife has been begging him to buy a Harley Davidson. Don't get me wrong. I'm not against motorcycles. I've owned two of them. I just stopped riding as a matter of convenience 18 years ago when my Suzuki 750 ...
I must be the only guy in America whose wife has been begging him to buy a Harley Davidson.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not against motorcycles. I've owned two of them. I just stopped riding as a matter of convenience 18 years ago when my Suzuki 750 was stolen. I took it as a message from God (and the guy who parted it out): "Stop riding motorcycles, Tony. You have too much to live for."
And I realized they (God and the thief) were right. After all, I hadn't accomplished much of anything... I hadn't raised a family... I still had not published a novel.
But that was then. The book is done and the kids are old enough to make Pop Tarts by themselves. Besides, I'm 50. What am I waiting for?
I realize buying a motorcycle on eBay is not the cool biker thing to do, but I fell in love with an old school looking Road King Classic -- something big enough to carry two. I called a guy in Nebraska to find out more about the bike.
The phone rang a very long time.
"Is this Jim?"
"Jim, I'm the guy who asked you to e-mail me your number."
"Did you get it?"
A pause, as I consider this exchange.
"Jim, did you just get up from a nap? Because, if so, I think this would be a good time to negotiate."
I decided not to tell The Redhead about the bike until it was delivered -- in three weeks. That lasted two days before I called her to my computer to look at the pictures of the gleaming chrome and glittering custom paint. She liked it a lot.
"What would you say if I told you I bought it?"
She was ecstatic. She studied the picture for a long time. Finally, she spoke. "It's beautiful! ...But I wonder if it isn't a little big for me to drive."
Drive? Did she say drive?
The Redhead's bike is a Sportster, with an Andrews N4 cam (note the authentic biker lingo) and Vance Hines pipes that make it sound like a diesel truck. It is tricked out with chrome skulls. Very cool.
The bikes arrived together one morning at 7:30, but the driveway was a mass of ice and frozen slush and muck so intimidating at first the guy refused to back the truck into the yard. We plied him with alcohol.
After the truck pulled away, The Redhead stared at her machine, intimidated by the size, weight and power. It was a big step up from the dirt bikes of her childhood. I sat aboard the Road King and listened to it rumble. Man, it sounded fierce. I could feel the testosterone rise. I looked out at that road and at the glacier separating me from it and, God help me, I put 'er into gear.
"Are you crazy?!" The Redhead yelled.
But it had been such long winter.
"I think I can make it," I said.
The next thing you know, a thousand pounds of pistons, grease, chrome, rubber and me are sliding sideways. Eventually, I came to rest, miraculously still upright, with both wheels deep in frozen slush ruts facing a three-foot snowbank.
The Redhead pushed me out. It would have been even weirder if we had to shovel it out. I wisely retreated to the garage and waited for a sunny day and dry driveway.
"Nice going, Easy Rider," The Redhead quipped.
The next sunny day came when I was at work. The phone rang. It was The Redhead. "Listen to this," she said. She had her bike running. It sounded like it meant business.
"I think I'm going to give it a go," she said.
"Alone? (Without an ambulance?) Are you sure?"
"Just up the road and back, OK... Hello... Hello?"
"OK," I said, finally. "I love you... and I'll take good care of the kids."
I panicked when she hung up. "Quick! Marie! What's the number to 9-1-1?"
She called when she got back.
"How was it?"
"Great. But my left leg won't stop shaking."
We have only managed a few miles between blizzards, but I won't stop grinning until the bugs begin to stick to my teeth. I had forgotten just how exhilarating it could be.
You know, I may regret saying this, but I may have to start listening to The Redhead more often. I wonder if she thinks I need a Corvette.