“Get off that thing. If I ever catch you riding one of those you’ll get the beating of your life. You’ll fall off and break a leg or crash and get squished by a truck.”
Let it be stated as an absolute fact that every mother, everywhere, hates all motorcycles. Girls might pretend they like to ride to impress the boys but when they become mothers their bodies and minds change, their genes morph and they automatically and forever hate anything motorized with two wheels.
“It’s my duty to protect my babies from harm.” To enforce this maternal edict and dissuade their children from riding they will personally mete out more pain than a motorcycle could inflict to ensure that their offspring know they are serious. Those of us who have disobeyed think it is just another excuse for mothers to give us a good beating.
With that said…
There was a time when we were young, when we were small and all machines were big, when motorcycles were huge, when we took our first rides as co-pilots behind an older brother, an uncle, a father or a neighbor who flew those gigantic bikes through the night like a poetic apparition. We rode behind those diabolical gods and were taken from one fantasy to another. Our feet didn’t touch the pegs and our butts were only attached to the seats by the vaguest of predispositions. Some of us were so small that our first motorcycle rides were in front in the position of glory on the gas tank.
Such forays into the wind were around the block or down to the park or to the river or home from church. We accepted these rides without asking permissions from our mothers and upon return our mothers had plenty to say to any well-meaning man who had offered such adventure. Sadly, regardless of our badgering, pestering and begging, rarely were they encouraged to again extend the temptation of a second jaunt.
Irrespective of the threat of a life-changing mother beating I rejected the possibility of being caught and ventured into this arena of illicit, prohibited, mother-forbidden travel by accepting a ride home from one of my fellow grammar school students. At the time there were full-sized motorcycles referred to as “motors,” Cushmans that were scooters, and anything in between was a “sickle.” He had a paper route, a bad reputation and a “sickle.”
Firmly ensconced on the luggage rack, legs flailing, one hand holding onto my books and the other holding on to a frame rail, the first four miles from school to home were on the wings of Pegasus. Then without warning we turned onto a dirt road which surrounded a large cauliflower field and with that sortie I discovered an entirely new area of exploration. Circling the field at breakneck speed we jumped rabbits, birds, wolves, bears, crocodiles and an unending variety of insects which awoke every sense in my adolescent body. Such a simple thing but so impressive was that mad dash that to this day I remember every rock, every pothole, every breath of dust and it will never be forgotten.
At my behest, my fellow student stopped 200 yards from our long driveway. To ride up to the house and disembark from a motorcycle would have been death from the results of a life-changing mother beating. Walking the 200 yards, brushing off cauliflower field dirt, I worked up a couple of big whoppers to explain why I was so dirty and they must have been good whoppers because Mother never knew.
As it turns out, I like helmets and sports that require that you wear helmets. I like tools and grease and dirty hands and the gritty hand soap that is required to get them clean. I am aware that not everyone does but I did as a kid and I still do now.
Want to know which kids will grow up and agree with me? Watch them playing in a sandbox. The ones that play with cars and zoom them around like race cars will love sports cars and motorcycles. The ones who play with tractors and trucks will love Harley-Davidson motorcycles. The kid who sits on the side of the sandbox and watches will play computer games.
Launching into a life of crime I wanted to have my own sandbox at home. So I endeavored to steal the school’s sandbox a little at a time. Every day I would fill my pockets and cuffs with sand and once at home empty them in the same pile. Do this enough time and by the end of the year you have transported the school’s sandbox to your own house. Somewhere along the way I was discovered and a well-meaning, thoughtful neighbor built me a sandbox and kept me out of juvie and ended my experiment in delinquency.
So… do mothers always and continually and enduringly hate motorcycles? Yes!
Over the years, every time I bought a different bike or did a trade (and there have been half a hundred), I would go to my mother’s house and offer her a ride. Every time she would decline most emphatically, telling me with great delight and in infinite detail about someone in the newspaper who had crashed a motorcycle and gotten squished by a truck. Then she’d beg me to give up such foolishness and finish by promising to pray for me. “I will never get on one of those things. Put a sidecar on it and then I will.”
Bikers have good memories. Most of us can remember every motorcycle we have ever owned. I am no different and can also remember what my mother told me on that day. So, I put a sidecar on one of my bikes, rode it over to her house and pulled up the driveway honking the horn. She came out ready to do battle with me. Then she saw the sidecar and became forgetful, weak, feigned tears and using feminine guile pretended that she never said she would ride with me in a sidecar.
Finally, after suggesting that if she didn’t go for a ride she would have lied and that might jeopardize her place in heaven, being that she was ultra-religious and fearing that I might be correct… she swore at me, got in and sat down.
There was a time when passengers rode behind the pilot. This day the passenger rode beside me in a sidecar.