Any editorial that starts with a title like this one just did is guaranteed to bring a chorus of groans from inveterate readers of biker publications, and that includes me. In ordinary traditional usage, “The Wave” refers to the hot-button issue of whether or not bikers do or do not wave, and if so when and to whom, and if not, why not. It’s a horse that’s been flogged in print so mercilessly and for so long it’s now little more than a puddle of horsey fluids with some bone fragments and hair floating on top. I’ve touched on the subject in the past, and I won’t guarantee that I might not again should the debate heat up, but that’s not where we’re going today. This is about the Other Wave. The wave you never want to see. But to illuminate that story I have to start with this story, and it’s a story about class struggle.
Back when I was an avid pool shooter I played in a bar league and so did just about every other biker bar habitué in Sonoma County. At the end of the season we would hold an awards banquet at the Vets Hall and it was essentially a night off for county law enforcement—or a big sting operation, depending on how you look at it. They had all the troublemakers in one spot for a change and the cop cars all congregated in the vicinity waiting for the affair to break up. They just assumed, reasonably enough, that we were all in there drinking, and rousting the departing attendees would be like shooting the proverbial fish in a barrel.
That’s one class.
Now let’s flash forward to last weekend when the annual Winter Wineland event was taking place hereabouts. Without so much as a harrumph from law enforcement, this deal hosted about 5,000 wine fanciers at 140 area wineries and the whole notion behind the event was to send the masses out driving and tippling, driving and tippling, from one tasting room to another over the winding back roads of the county.
The parking lots of the wineries were full as the connoisseurs twirled and swigged an ounce at a time, volatizing the esters, stuffing their noses down the barrel, holding their glasses to the light to admire the legs, and pronouncing their judgments in the argot of the culture despite the fact that not one in a hundred of these lushes could go blindfold and distinguish between a shot of pricey vintage cabernet and a shot of Mad Dog. I guess. That’s the mental image you get, anyway.
Now let’s do a little arithmetic. If you have, say, six tastes at a tasting room, which is the norm, and you hit just four of the 140 wineries on the agenda, you’ve swilled an entire bottle of wine—the alcoholic equivalent of a sixer of PBR, and now you’re on a tipsy roll and that 140 figure suddenly doesn’t sound undoable. Now multiply that phenomenon times a few thousand participants on the tour and you potentially have Armageddon on wheels. And virtually no law enforcement presence; there’s not a single sobriety checkpoint in the whole region because, well, they’re not drunks, they’re “tasters” in fancy cars.
That’s the other class.
This is where I enter the picture, tooling along a winding wine country road on my bike, and rounding a curve. On the other side of the curve is a winery driveway, and sitting at the end of the driveway is a Lexus. The curve I’ve rounded is not so blind and sudden that the woman behind the wheel of the Lexus doesn’t see me in time to refrain from pulling out in front of me. I see her eyes right on me, but it appears she’d already made the decision to pull out before I hove into view, and in her apparent fine-wine stupor lacks the reaction time to change her mind—at least not at first. And out she comes straight into my path. Then she abruptly stops—right in the middle of the road, across both lanes, frozen like a deer in the headlights, but unlike a deer in the headlights she’s not the one about to go splat all over a Lexus.
I’ve been riding long enough to know in that moment that I can avoid a collision by going into a full panic stop. There’s enough distance to pull it off, but just enough. As I’m hard on the brakes and closing the distance, the Lexus finally lurches forward a few feet, clearing a path behind it, and suddenly there it is: The Other Wave. The woman puts up a sheepish little wave of the hand and unmistakably mouths, “Sorry!”
God, I hate that wave. You see it all too often after a motorist has just pulled a potentially fatal boner, and I hate it because it’s feeble and infuriating, and what’s doubly infuriating is that it takes all the satisfaction out of flipping them off. They’ve already apologized, damn them. So you’re left to merely fume and shake your head histrionically and throw a hand in the air and shout something unsatisfying like, “Really?”
In a perfect world that wave would be outlawed. The brain-dead offender in such situations would be required to sit mute and motionless and take their bird like a big boy. Vote for me.
It’s all right here in the diaries.