Howdy! Grab a chair an’ a beer! I know we all have friends we call “Bro,” an’ we see ’em as brothers of the road, but I want you to take a few minutes an’ think about how many true “brothers” you have, an’ what they mean to you. I’m not talkin’ about the guys you wave at when you pass your favorite waterin’ hole, I’m talkin’ about the ones who will get up at 2:00 a.m. an’ drive 400 miles to rescue your ass. In the last couple of years I’ve lost some brothers, includin’ Jack Luna, “Basic Bob,” an’ Ray Arena. I want the others to know that I appreciate their bein’ there for me, so let me tell you about a couple of these brothers that I’ve been lucky enough to have over the years.
First, there’s “The Varmint,” who showed up in my life around 1962. We were a couple of smart-ass kids in seventh grade, gettin’ into mischief whenever we could, watchin’ all the biker movies we could find an’ dreamin’ about 80″ stroked Panheads with 10-foot forks an’ a jockey shift. Those dreams never faded, an’ we’re still brothers, closer than most with the same blood runnin’ through their veins. He’s been there for me through two weddin’s, two sons born, the loss of a wife an’ son, an’ all the other trials that would have been impossible to face alone. I’ve seen him through four marriages, two kids an’ a midlife career change. I won’t dwell on bad times, but I will tell you about a couple of the funny incidents.
One early mornin’ about 15 or 20 years ago, I get a call from Varmint that he’s broke down about 100 miles from home. As I recall, it was winter an’ cold as a penguin’s ass. His old Shovel shelled the chain in the middle of nowhere, an’ with no spare master link, he was stuck. I got up, hopped in the truck, found him there on the side of the road an’ got him home an’ repaired.
Last spring, Reggie an’ I were on a run in Paso Robles, several hours from our home base, an’ my Softail wouldn’t start; the crank sensor havin’ crapped out on me. I called The Varmint, who brought the trailer over, picked up my bike an’ dropped his bike off so I could finish the run. Well, the gremlins weren’t through with us yet an’ the next day Reggie’s trike broke, so we called The Varmint, who brought the trailer back an’ picked both of us up. He knows I’d do the same for him, because that’s what brothers do.
Then there was “Big Bill” McCrain, who showed up back in the early 80’s. I met Bill through a friend who owned a shop, an’ it didn’t take us long to become friends. At the time I was ridin’ a ’74 Sportster, but wanted another Big Twin. One day, Bill called an’ asked me to meet him at the shop. When I got there, he rolled a 1980 Low Rider out an’ asked me what I thought of it. It looked really good, an’ rode even better. “Do you want it?” he asked. I hesitated, an’ told him I’d have to sell my Sporty first. He replied, “I didn’t ask you that; I asked if you want it.”
“Well, yeah,” I said, “but…” He held up his hand an’ then wrote a check for the bike. I hadn’t made the first payment yet when a guy traded me an almost-new Snap-On rollaway box full of tools for my Sporty. It was high-dollar stuff, an’ Bill was talkin’ about gettin’ more tools so I called him to come take a look an’ see if he wanted to trade. After lookin’ the box over, he said “This is worth a lot more than you owe me.” Rememberin’ his words to me, I told him with a grin, “I didn’t ask you that; I asked if you wanted it!” The trade was made, an’ we both got what we wanted.
Due to health problems Bill can’t ride anymore, but we are, an’ will remain, brothers to the end.
Another brother I don’t want to forget is “Nevada Paul” Finch. I met Paul through our mutual friend, Basic Bob. Now, mind you, when this story came about, I had never actually met Paul, we just became friends through e-mail. Reggie an’ I were on vacation in Nevada when her starter went out. On her trike, it’s a tough job to change, so we push-started it an’ rode to the dealer in Carson City. I called Paul, who met us there, took us home an’ fed us, then loaned us his brand-new pickup so we could keep our reservations in Tahoe. Since then, he’s become a true brother, an’ I hope he knows that I’m there for him anytime, anywhere, for anythin’, because that’s what brothers do.
I have other “brothers,” both livin’ an’ dead, that I don’t have room to mention here, but I hope they know that I’m proud to be part of their lives, as they are part of mine. So take the time to hug your brothers (or kick their asses; whichever they need) an’ let ’em know ya love ’em.