As Jimmy approached his fourteenth birthday and the promise of a learner’s permit to drive he became obsessed with getting a motorcycle. A learner’s permit would allow him to drive a motorcycle. Honda had just popularized small engine cycles, “you meet the nicest people on a Honda.”
Dad’s response, “Son those things are dangerous. If you had seen the young man I saw in Daytona Beach, his bike was wrapped around the front axle of a semi and he was lying right beside it. I don’t know if he was dead, but he sure looked it. I don’t see how he could have survived.”
Jimmy was persistent. He left pictures of happy, clean-cut young people on Hondas all over the house. He taped one to the bathroom mirror.
In exasperation Dad finally blurted out, “Son if you never mention getting a motor scooter (sic.) to me again, I’ll buy you a car when you graduate from school.”
Never have more fortuitous words been spoken. They would eventually cost Dad a lot of money, four brand new cars for graduation presents (although Shirley deferred hers because she and I were in college at the same time). Dad was a man of his word. He believed there was no honor without truth. “Son, if a man will lie to you, you had better watch him. If he will lie to you, he will steel from you. That’s what my Pa always said.”
In addition to always being truthful, Dad was consistent. There were only a few things he disliked; Masons, long-haired-hippie-draft dodgers, and motorcycles headed the list. He truly disliked them and he was fond of telling people so. Masons would lie to protect each other; they had sworn to do so. Draft-dodgers weren’t raised right. Motorcycles were too dangerous. That sums it up.
I had always wanted a motorcycle, but it wasn’t an obsession. And I knew they were dangerous so I wouldn’t consider getting one until Alethea and Karisa were grown. There was also the problem of money. I couldn’t justify spending thousands of dollars on something I wasn’t certain I would like. As Karisa approached graduation from High School I found myself dreaming about getting two things: a tractor and a motorcycle. I wanted both, but the tractor was more reasonable. Cheryl wanted a pop-up camping trailer which also sounded nice to me. I weighed the three options and decided we should save for the pop-up.
I had begun squirreling away for the camper when Dad died. By the time our inheritance was divided I had just about enough for the trailer. Suddenly I had a moral dilemma. Could I use money I had inherited from Dad to buy a motorcycle? As much as Dad hated motorcycles, I just couldn’t bring myself to do that.
Then logic burst forth in all its brilliance. I could use my pop-up money to buy a motorcycle and Dad’s money to buy a camper. Dad would approve of his hard earned money being used to buy a camper. He had bought one for Mom. I love it when a plan comes together.
There was just one problem. Cheryl disliked motorcycles as much as Dad. We had long ago agreed we would not make any major purchase without agreement between us. I presented my case. Cheryl thought for a few days and came back with a proposal. She would agree to the purchase if both of our girls agreed.
I knew I had Karisa on my side. She had just turned eighteen, entered college, and taken up sky diving.
Cheryl was certain Alethea would veto the plan. She was in medical school and talked a lot about motorcycle accident victims in the ER. Motorcycles are “caskets on wheels.” Cheryl called and I listened on the speakerphone, “Mom, he’s almost fifty years old. If he is ever going to have fun he had better start now.”
With that personality profile (ie., cerebral, analytical, entertainment deprived, dull), I won an opportunity at a life-long dream. Who knew being dull would ever pay off.
I found a used Yamaha V-star 650 on e-bay in Knoxville. When I went down to buy a helmet, on a whim I bought one for Cheryl. I thought I should at least give her an opportunity to ride. Little did I know the Biker Babe I was unleashing. She said she would go for one ride just to say she did it. She was hooked from that first ride. She wants to go every day the weather permits. It has become our favorite form of relaxation. In fifteen minutes we can be in the mountains. Most days we just take a country ride, for twenty to thirty minutes. After a hard day at the office you can feel the stress drifting away as the wind whistles in your ear.
I am thankful for my motorcycle. Who knew what it could bring out in a person.
March 12, 2010