One of the joys of old age —really, there are a few— are our overflowing memory tanks. We’re loaded up with great ones, good ones, and forgettable ones. We’ve enough to bore the master link off a 530 chain as we impatiently wait to tell our hero story. And then there are these memories…
I Meant to do That
Three of us had spent the morning strafing the coast from Santa Cruz to Monterey. Lunch called, so we headed to the now-defunct Pontiac Grill in Santa Cruz. The ’Grill featured large tinted windows fronting its small parking lot. I knew that behind those windows were numerous booths with a direct view of the lot. I was riding my ’87 HD FXRC. You trivia donks know that model as the one with the beautiful blue frame and flaked tank. It was time to do a bit of stylin’. Riding on to the lot I aimed for a wedge of space (“No Parking”) right in front. Pulling to a stop, in one stylish move I hit the kill switch, swung my leg off, and turned towards the entrance … just as my FXR fell onto the back of my legs, knocking me flat on the pavement in front of that tinted glass. I had neglected to lower the side stand.
Briefly lying there I heard two things. First was the laughing from my riding partners and, second, was the silence from me despite being in great pain (horribly bruised ego). I remember thinking that my legs could be broken, but I was damn well going to get up, right my bike, and …somehow… act like I meant to do that. One friend, marginally redeeming himself, suggested we eat somewhere else. And no, they didn’t help me lift my bike. When finally at lunch I suggested that we never speak of my mishap again. Fat-chance-of-that-happening laughter ensued.
A Warming Trend
I was cold, it was raining, and due to a rip at the end of my tent, my feet felt like ice bricks. I didn’t want to get up, but those ‘bricks’ and hunger pangs told me it was time to get back on the road. I was camping along the coast, riding back home from an event in eastern Oregon. I use a small, one-person tent to keep the load manageable. This works just fine, until I have to get dressed in it. Pulling on a rain suit is always a particular hassle. Once dressed I broke camp, loaded up, and hit the road. My usual plan is to get in at least 50 miles before breakfast. When I don’t do this, I find I linger too long over a second cup of coffee and put myself behind schedule.
About 30 minutes into the ride the rain had quit, and a rest stop appeared. Pulling over, my first order of business was, well, I really had to pee. I mean really! As you know, unwrapping full riding gear slows getting to the ‘plumbing.’ I unzipped my rain jacket, then my riding jacket. Next, I unsnapped my rain pants, and lowered the zipper …I was getting close and the situation was getting urgent. My 501s were next (I keep forgetting: No button fly pants on trips!), then I pulled down my long johns and —finally!— my underwear. Success was in hand, literally! There are many small joys in life. One of which is that feeling when your screaming bladder finally gets relief. I sighed happily and gave into it.
My joy was short lived. As the euphoria wore off, and my bladder emptied, I noted a warming trend in my lower extremities. I was peeing inside my rain pants, against my Levis.
Stranger in a Strange Land
Northern California’s annual “Redwood Run” has been a Harley rider pilgrimage for more than four decades. It’s tidied itself up a in recent years, but for a good part of its early history it featured various naughty behaviors of the adult kind. My time at this event always featured memorable sights, sounds, and actions, most all of which I chronicled in this paper.
At the time Thunder Press was printed in San Jose. Our contact there was a slight, 40-ish Brit named Denny. He was a fun guy, helped us a lot, and always read the paper. After a couple of years reading about the Redwood Run he asked if he could join us. Sure, why not.
Not being a rider Denny drove up and I met him at the gate. He tagged along, beer in hand, while I did my reporter thing. Though things were tame during the day there was still enough counter-culture activity to keep him goggle-eyed. The late afternoon “Wet T Contest” (a euphemism for totally naked men and women) kept his head spinning and his beer can empty. As the sun set and the music intensified his alcohol-borne courage had him dancing, hugging, and thoroughly enjoying himself. Particularly so when he discovered that his heavy British accent endeared him to many women.
Very late at night I hunted up a coffee vendor, Denny at my side. Waiting for my order, a woman stopped and asked if I was with Thunder Press. She was tall, rubenesque, with brassy reddish long hair, and dressed Redwood Run appropriate. A glance at Denny showed he was in love. She was drinking a coffee concoction piled high with whipped cream. After I told her, “Yep” I was there for Thunder Press, she moved directly in front of me, took a large swipe of whipped cream and dabbed it between her half-bare breasts. She then took my head in both hands and gently pushed it against the cream. She then walked off.
As I’m wiping my face I notice Denny staring at me. “What?,” I asked. His goggle eyes were red-rimmed, and his speech a bit slurred when he answered, “Can I be you when I grow up?”
If you’d care to explain to Kittrelle why his existence on this planet is no longer required, or any other pithy comments, you can email him directly at