Sunday, October 20, 2013

Wheels, Wind, Why

After eight weeks of physical therapy after my knee replacement I was able to get my knee and the rest of my leg over the seat of my motorcycle.

There is, I think, an existential addiction to a motorcyle. I straddle a two wheeled machine propelled by more horsepower than my 1962 Volkswagen van had. The only thing between me and my death is about a quarter inch of rubber on the asphalt, gyroscopic physics and blind chance. A sixty mile an hour wind pummels my skin through thin cotton threads. Cloth is my only protection from a catastrophic lapse of attention by me or someone else sharing the road. Even though I ride with awareness and care, my entire existence is unprotected, unlike my car, by a cocoon of sheet metal and air bags. The possibility of death is palpable.  There is a certain freedom in hurtling through the air on two wheels and teasing death. I wonder if the Harley Davidson has replaced the late life affair for post-midlife-crisis men. I remember a line in Moonstruck where Cher asks her father "why do men cheat" and he said, "Because they die". I think that is also why old men these days spend 30K on a dressed out Harley or an Orange Country chopper  instead of a trophy mistress. It really is about death and ego.

I recall that Sigmund Freud once said, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."  But I know a motorcycle, unlike cars might be in some cases, isn't just transportation. 

I don't know what my $1,800.00 "bobber" (it's a poor man's chopper, I suppose) says about me, but I know it is a late life infatuation driven by some inner necessity I'm delving into. My wife is a patient woman.

Riding a "bobber" was an initiation into a club that I didn't know existed.  As I rode, I noticed that bikers coming from the opposite direction would give a "salute", an extended arm with two fingers in a "peace sign", palm forward. They were always on some kind of cruiser or chopper.

People on scooters or crotch rockets don't "salute".  (Though some rice-rocket riders will give a two fingers lifted off their throttle in acknowledgement). It is pure "tradition" by osmosis from what I can gather. When you get a bike, no one hands you a "motorcycle catechism" that teaches you how to kiss your mechanic's ring, identify the hierarchy of Harley's or Harley posers, what to wear, etc.  It seems most of biker tradition is assimilated by just being a biker.  And, yes, I picked up on the "salute" after a couple of drive-by's and I salute even though I know I have no clue who that was or that it matters whether or not they think I'm a dope, oblivious, or a poser.

There is something innate within us that succumbs to being included in an exclusive "club", and being included is mostly manifested in doing incomprehensible, pointless things that take on a shared meaning. Our nature is communion, it is inescapable and manifest in even two wheeled transportation.

And a H/T to Gabebraham for this link in his comment. It was too good to leave there.  Check it out.


Abraham said...

This reminds me of this old Candid Camera video.

Steve Robinson said...

That is awesome! I'm going to put it in the blog!

amy said...

Oh, that gave me a chuckle ~ thanks!

Drewster2000 said...

And a H/T to SP for coming up with the name "Gabebraham". It took me awhile to say it aloud, but now I'm becoming more and more convinced that this was the original spelling of the venerable patriarch's name.


Steve Robinson said...

Drewster, Gaberaham is a concactenation of "Abe" and "Gabriel", the given name and baptismal patronal name. It's a local Orthodox tradition in our Mission. :)

Drewster2000 said...

Okay....I've never heard of that, but you could do much worse!

theguide42 said...

Here is a post some of you might enjoy reading, if you liked this one. The author here at Pithless Thoughts shares my sentiments: