Savage, primal joy flows. Adrenaline pumps. Subtle inputs to the precision motorcycle generate decidedly unsubtle results. A thousand pounds of man and machine…bone, muscle, blood, and steel, negotiate the utter treachery that is the high-speed commute through this city.
My very life in my hands. My existence riding solely on my strength, skills, and perceptions.
It’s a heady feeling…that.
Eastbound to southbound over the 150-foot high steeply graded sweeping transitions, the speed climbs and the heart races.
Down, down, down…into the valley we fly…the cages around us simply fast moving and somewhat malevolent obstacles.
I’m not going to claim I didn’t howl.
It’s a need denied in polite society…exercising the id…tapping the instinct and the skill. We’re supposed to be neutered automatons.
No passion in work. No passion in our relationships. No fight. No joy. No way to die.
And no way to live.
A human being doesn’t work that way. Denying us the passion…removing all vestiges of the fight…doesn’t make us more civilized…it makes us less human.
I happened to find myself at the 24-hour drug store recently to pick up a particular product for the wife.
Doesn’t happen often in our household…those surprise midnight runs…as we both do the shopping and I know her brands. I’ve been keeping some version of pads in stock in my household ever since I had a household…yes…even before I was married. See, ya never know when a visitor may need one AND…honestly…they make fantastic bandages for those somewhat frequent “larger than they should be” injuries I’ve sustained over the years. I can usually find at least one in my motorcycle bag.
I realize that the societal norms dictate that I’m supposed to be all embarrassed and stuff about this…but that’s a myth perpetuated by women that just plain dislike men…or have never known anything more than boys. It normally bears no more thought than buying toilet paper or hand soap.
Anyway…midnight run…a box in the cabinet that appeared full fooled us both. Off to the drug store. Not normally a remarkable event.
What I found funny and remarkable this time was just how many of us men were making that particular run on that particular night…there were at least 6 of us on the aisle and a several more at the checkout with various versions of the products.
I got a chuckle out of that…every customer in the store was male…and buying some version or other of a “feminine protection” product.
One dude was in nothing but his boxers.
As a note…my childish ways DO manifest as I can’t ponder the words “feminine protection” without at least thinking…but usually saying out loud…”Chartreuse flamethrower!”…well…because this:
Ahh my corrupted youth.
One lone woman was running the register so there was quite a line forming up as I approached.
I didn’t have to wait though. See all the men in the line were obviously less experienced than me…AND…that experience had caused me to pause in an additional aisle on my way up to the register.
“Dudes…” I said and as they turned I held up a fist full of premium large Dark Chocolate candy bars and waggled it.
“Shit, that’s genius!” says the guy directly in front of me as he departs the line and heads for the candy aisle.
“Good idea!” says the next…
And all of ’em…every single one…nodding or mumbling something or other…left the line and headed for the candy aisle.
Beaming, I handed my selections to the gal at the register and told her, “You’re missing a hell of an up-sell opportunity! You should have a box of this stuff,” I indicated the chocolate, “right here.”
She smiled and reached down and pulled out an empty…”Second one tonight.”
Bag of pads: ~$7.00
Fist-full of chocolate: ~$12.00
Skipping the line: Priceless.
On the news this morning…
1) Couple killed on a bike when SUV ran red light. No charges filed.
2) More indictments of bikers in Waco massacre (for those of you not familiar, couple of bikers get in fight, police open up on crowd with assault rifles, killed a bunch, delayed medical care, won’t release the “who killed who”, and local law enforcement in a stacked grand-jury is in the process of indicting anybody there with a club sticker or patch or vest on “organized crime”)
3) Dump truck driver that left-turned in front of and ran over biker no-billed.
4) Fort Worth cop sprays pepper spray into group of bikers passing his pulled over car. (being blinded on a motorcycle is a death sentence, he may as well have opened up with a shotgun…also for us asthmatic types…had I been riding by and I didn’t happen to have a particular drug on me at that moment…well…I’d get to die.)
These stories all in the same newscast (some are followups).
This is…btw…a pronounced trend.
The heart-breaker? As I’m getting on the bike to ride to work…the wife wanders out to the garage and hugs me tight.
Forehead to my chest and with a waver in her voice she asks me, “Why isn’t it illegal to kill riders?”
The raw truth of it is the world at large seems to think we’re asking for it…that we deserve it. Law enforcement seems to agree with them.
Sleep wouldn’t come. The Dragon called. I tweaked the wife on the butt, rolled out of bed, and quietly dressed.
It was time to ride.
Something’s at the edge of your mind
You don’t know what it is…
Weaving through the fringes of DFW in the chilly night air, I grin wickedly as the opening in the traffic finally comes. I slam The Dragon down a couple gears and twist the throttle to the stop. The machine roars. I push a lane change hard, with just the bare hint of a rear drift. Right to the edge.
Bone. Blood. Steel. I don’t just ride this machine. I becomeThe Dragon.
Something you were hoping to find
But you’re not sure what it is…
Gawd I love this beast!
Then you hear the music
And it all comes crystal clear…
Suddenly I was free of the city and racing into the full moon. It seemed I could breathe again.
The music does the talking
Says the things you want to hear…
I’m not gonna swear that I didn’t howl.
You’re thinking it over
But you just can’t sort it out…
The disasters of the last few days weigh heavily on my mind. I am a doer. A man of action. A builder…and I’m doing all that even while the hits keep coming and I’m looking at the pile of work and wondering where do I even start?
Years of work undone in a couple storms. I find I’m also wondering why I even bother…and that disturbs me.
Do you want someone to tell you
What they think it’s all about…
In short…with the exception of the aged and battle scarred machine I’m astride, every property asset we own has been seriously damaged in the last seven days.
Here, here, and here, if you haven’t seen the pics and details.
Tens of thousands in damage…and we’re not insured for nearly enough of it.
This time I did howl. Frustration and rage. It’s all I had…It’s all I WAS…and it had to go.
Are you the one and only
Who’s sad and lonely…
I am…in short…completely overwhelmed and utterly discouraged. I dream big and reach far. Perhaps too far. Perhaps beyond my grasp. It’s the only way to achieve great things.
But this has been a hard hit. Dreams on hold at the least. Possibly I need to kill them.
You’re reaching for the top…
Killing them would probably be the wise thing. The safe thing.
But that’s not me.
Well, the music keeps you going…
It never has been.
And it’s never gonna stop…
And I doubt it every will be.
It’s never gonna stop…
Time to think. Time to process. Time to understand. Time to live. THAT’S what riding does for me.
Triumph was long gone off my music player and I’d stopped measuring distance in miles…rather I’d switched to “tanks of fuel”.
The sun had been up for a couple hours and I was nearing the end of tank #3 when with perfect timing the music changed.
Working hard to get my fill…
Everybody wants a thrill…
My route had led me back to the city.
Payin’ anything to roll the dice
Just one more time…
I approached the exit to my job, chopped the throttle, and headed downtown.
Some will win, some will lose
Some were born to sing the blues…
What do you do when it seems there’s nothing to be done?
Simple. You figure out what you have, pick up whatever that is, and get to work.
Oh, the movie never ends…
…and you keep right on working.
The wife and I are still breathing, we’re together, and for the moment at least…the rubber-side is on the road.
Loose plans jelled. Ideas flowed. My hands twitched with the urge to get to work.
It goes on and on, and on, and on…
Yeah. We’ve got this.
Don’t stop believin’
Hold on to the feelin’…
I’m here. Bring it on.
Besides…and it really is this simple…I just don’t know how to quit.
We are still not certain quite how to deal with this…and then it gets worse.
Last night The Suburban Blah House was clobbered by a hail storm. We lost a couple windows, seriously damaged the cars, and no doubt…the roof. With the exception of The Dragon, everything we own that has a deed or a title has been seriously damaged in the last 7 days.
My Dad called me and warned me that the storm was coming…nothing to be done. Couldn’t even attempt to cover the car with something as we heard the first hail hit the roof even as I hung up the phone.
Coming down…stripping vegetation and pummeling Little Rivet.
About 2 minutes in…went on for about 10 more.
These are golf ball sized. There were bigger ones but I wasn’t going out into it to get them (these bounced into the garage).
Golf ball sized.
When the hail marrs up the concrete…
When the hail is marring the concrete….
The wife’s ride…the new car with only 30,000 miles on it…Da Altima’s roof.
Da Altima’s Roof
The hood. The trunk deck and the sides of the car also look like this.
Da Altima Hood
We lost two windows in the house…both on the south side. These are double panes and the inner pane held up so at least we weren’t open to the weather.
South windows taken out
And of course…the recently painted Big Iron…with serious hood, roof and fender damage. It doesn’t look all that bad here because the color makes it hard to photograph.
Big Iron was just painted…
Da Altima and the house should be covered…Little Rivet and Big Iron are not. At least the car windows held up. Just a couple miles north of me the hail was big enough to take out all the car windows as well.
An…interesting month. In like a lion, out like a Velociraptor.
It’s been a tough year for quadra-peds at the Meyer Casa…
Shorty’s been having a hard time getting around…and it became rather acute a couple months back. Off to the vet we went.
Turned out he was MUCH older than we thought he was. We thought he was 8…he’s a rescue, we were told he was 5 when we got him 3 years ago. The vet seemed to think adding a “10” to our number was more reasonable.
Shorty’s rear knees are both blown out and severely arthritic. There’s no real treatment for this…other than a complete knee replacement…in both knees.
He is not a candidate for the complete knee replacement (the only thing that could possibly help) because of:
1) His advanced age vastly impacts (and not in a good way) his chances of even a partial recovery.
2) They’d have to do both of them.
3) We can’t afford the attempt.
Have I mentioned how much adulting sucks sometimes?
Severe arthritic, blown out rear knees.
Nearly two weeks ago Shorty the Corgi reached the stage where he could not walk…and despite the pain meds was having very few “good moments”.
As cheery as the little lardball is, he was also in considerable pain. A trip to the yard left him shaking and panting.
I realized last Thursday…after I had to put “handles” on him to take him out to do his “business” that a last ride was imminent.
…and I will have killed two of the Meyer casa’s furry members this year.
He’d gone downhill so far the last two weeks. The pain meds only worked while he knew you were looking at him. If he thought he was alone, he lost his smile…and the twinkle in his eyes…and just half stood (his back legs wouldn’t support him) and shook.
Once again, I did the right thing. The thing that needed done. The thing that I had to do.
A last ride. Shorty was thrilled. “Go FASTER!” he seemed to say.
Yes, it was the right time, the vet agreed. “It’s not going to get better. This moment, is the best he can be.”
So…I did the thing. He LOVES to go to the vet…LOVES the ride in the truck. Eagerly scrambles and strains and pulls to get into the exam room.
And that was that.
I did the thing. Again. And it feels…well…it feels like I fucking betrayed him…That’s what it feels like.
So I had to vote today…last day of early voting here in Texas and I’m working the election Tuesday…and as I walked in…I was still undecided on the presidential candidates. Every last one of them has seriously fatal flaws. Crook. Nutjob. Preacher. Liar. Make-believe. Rainbows and unicorns. Not a one of ’em I’d invite to dinner and trust unattended in my home…and one of ’em gets to run the country.
It’s a hell of a choice.
Now…there’s never been a perfect politician…simply put…in our day and age a truly qualified person COULD NOT do the things they had to do to get elected.
But never before…have I been this undecided this close to an election. Gah.
Oh…and just *when* did “conservative” become synonymous with “evangelical”? GAH! (again).
I wonder if we can get the primary process changed to a death cage naked jello wrestling match?
But voting often lets me troll too…
See, I gotta admit…I LOVE LOVE LOVE exit polls. Yep, really!
See, I don’t like their purpose and the fact that they CAN and do influence the in-progress election…so when I get caught by a pollster…I just lie my ass off. It screws up what they think they know about demographics.
“Sir, do you mind answering a few questions?”
*slouches, scratches myself inappropriately, and starts pretending to chew tobacco*
“Eryep. I recon I could do thet there thang.”
“Did you vote in the republican or democratic primary this morning?”
“Both, actually. See, I had this cousin Earl…looked just like me…got his little pinkie caught in a pistachio hulling machine…sucked him right in..but…yanno…slowly. They figure bits of him got shipped to 27 states and the district of Columbia…anyway…looked just like me…oh yeah…I said that…and they gave me back his wallet…see…it popped out of his jeans as his ass was being dragged in…it was the only thing left….which is surprising. Earl had a LOT of ass…”
“So anyway…they sent his voter card and I’ve got his eye dee…”
“No. IDEEEAah. EYE DEEE. His drivercating card! Are you some kind of stupid?…where was I…oh yeah…he looks just like me ya see…and just ’cause he’s dead don’ mean he ain’t got the right to vote ya see…it’s in the constellation.”
Meanwhile at least 6 folks that might have actually answered the questions have passed by.
“So…ya know…my cousin Earl…he looks just like me ya know…well…he did before the nut job… *doffs my hat, bows my head and mumbles*, “Rest his soul in pieces.”
“Well Earl…looks just like me yanno…well he voted in the donkey vote…fer that Sandy guy…see…Earl…well he looks just like me but he really don’ like wimmen much…his momma slapped him around a lot and never would make him a sandwich…well…and since we’re pretty sure…Earl and I rest his soul…that that there Sandy guy ain’t a woman…oh and he’s promising free college…and Earl…yanno he looked just like me…he wasn’t the college sort yanno…but he LOVED bean bags and colleges have bean bags so that’s who he voted for.”
I pause to spit…and then for good effect…I plug one nostril and blow the other one out farm hand style. Snot rockets for the win! Poll guy is, I believe, trying to suppress a gag reflex.
He’s also trying to escape but I keep stepping around to stand directly in front of him.
“Anyway, Earl REALLY liked bean bags…now I…well *I* take this stuff much more importanter than Earl…so my voticating is higherly considerated. I went elephant…since elephants are dead serious. I’ve seen ’em at the zoo and they gotta be serious…I mean…with a nose like that wouldn’t you be serious?
“Now I ALMOST went for that Trump guy…’cause…yanno…elephants…trunks…they make that Trump noise…I seen ’em at the zoo…and they’re serious and make that Trump noise…but instead I went for that Bush guy…yanno…because when he was president we had that 911 thang…and it’s good to be able to call the cops with just three numbers and I never much liked New York anyway…”
I sidle up and whisper conspiratorially, “Too many damn yankees. I don’ know why but they seem to gather up there…”
Exit poll guy has a smidgen of a chance to escape me here…but the fool (who else is gonna be an exit poll guy) has lost the will to live and actually asks me another question.
“What do you think the most pressing issue of this election cycle is?”
I looked him dead in the eyes.
“Rabid weasels. There’s too many god-dammed rabid weasels. And pistachio nut safety. Somebody should do something. Poor Earl….twenty-seven states! AND the district of Columbia…though why they ship ‘merican pistichos to south America I’ll never know.”
Then I grab his hand, “Pray with me now!” and start chanting in Latin.
Now…chanting in Latin is not something I can keep up for very long…I know maybe 12 words…but before I even got half of ’em out (and I’m pretty sure at least three of ’em weren’t Latin but rather they were a spell from Harry Potter) exit poll guy remembers he needs to be “over there” and jerks away and sprints across the parking lot.
’tis probably a good thing. When I ran out of Latin I was gonna start in on Nickleback lyrics…or perhaps Bon Jovi.
I last saw him accelerating out of the parking lot. Pretty decent clipboard he left behind though. I actually pondered hanging around and asking nonsensical questions as an exit poll guy (“EXCUSE ME! SIR! What’s your stance on domesticating rabid weasels?”), but nah, I had to get to work.
So…for my “non-Texan” friends or anyone else that doesn’t realize pollsters and surveys are fair game (not to mention downright fun), when ya read about just how nutty Texans actually are…ya might ponderificate that we may be intentionalistically dirtying up the waters a little bit.
Anyway…happy election season! I hope you take your votercating seriousistically!
Zooming around the gorgeous east Texas night in Da Altima the sequel (the wife’s ride…reminder…gotta get her to name that thing)…we were inbound to the metro-mess from the Old Vic and we stopped at a Braums store for a quick dinner, a few groceries (milk/bananas and such), and a break. It’s about halfway between the two houses so we do this fairly often.
Afterwards, leaving, I walked the wife to the passenger door and opened it for her. As she got in I, of course, tweaked her on the butt, and then closed the door behind her.
As I turned to walk to the other side of the car I noticed a mother and her teenage daughter sitting in the car a space over from us (the space between us was empty). They were both watching. The young one had gasped.
Mom winks at me and says, “No honey, that’s the kind of guy you want. He respects her enough to open doors for her, but still desires her enough to slap her butt.”
Yep, 25 years we’ve been together…and I still slap her on the butt (and she still blushes and squeaks).