Everybody's gotta be a critic.
Criticism has never bothered me much, but this time was different. This is the first time a critic has ever felt the need to pull a gun to help express an opinion. Being a Texan, even the gun would not bother me too much (hell, even my cat owns a gun)...but....darn-it-all-anyway...I try to be honest with myself. This critic was right! I'm not really sure I deserved the gun though...
We have had absolutely gorgeous riding weather in the afternoons for the last couple weeks—completely cloud free, gorgeous azure-blue sky without a trace of dust or smog, and temperatures in the 70's. Perfect. Gotta love those Texas winters!
I snuck out of work a few minutes early...it's got to be some sort of a sin to be working on an afternoon that perfect. I fully intended to get lost on the way home. Make some time out of Dallas on the freeways, then hang a left (or a right), twist the throttle, and see where I ended up.
Alas...it was not to be. As soon as I hit US 75 out of Dallas, traffic ground to a complete halt. This was a particularly bad time for it, as "Hourglass" by The Killdares had just started in perfect isolated stereo on my mp3 player. For those that have not heard them, The Killdares are Celtic rock. Great Celtic rock. Sounds a bit odd I know...but it's great riding music. Music is a passion of mine...my collection is vast, and my mp3 player contains over 10 hours of my favorites. I had riding to do!
A third of the way though the song the traffic still had not moved.
"Well this just sucks." I said to myself. The driver in the cage next to me burst out laughing and heartily agreed with me. A rider is completely on his or her own when riding...and I get used to the feeling of independence and self-reliance. With a full-face helmet, leathers, and music, as well as a complete lack attention from errant cage drivers, I tend to forget there are times others can hear me.
Traffic finally inched forward a bit and I managed to thread my way between the cars and make the Mockingbird exit ramp. The ordeal was not over yet though, hundreds of other folks had the same idea and the intersection was jammed up tight.
Six cycles of the traffic light (and two more pretty good riding songs) came and went before I finally reached the intersection. I was going right, but most everybody else was going straight. Just before the light changed another song began on my mp3 player. My heart quickened. The music was perfect. The light was about to change...the cage in front of me was going to be easy prey...the road to the right was clear. The Valkyrie growled in anticipation. I snarled in agreement, getting a rather odd look from the driver of the car on my left. I didn't care. I was about to be free!
The light changed. The cage turned. He only managed to occupy most of two lanes. A tweak of the throttle and I was gone!
Ahhhhh. Life is good when the roads are clear. The music reached a crescendo as I approached the Greenville intersection. For those of you that must know, the song was "Roll With the Changes" by REO Speedwagon, and it is absolutely my favorite riding song (today anyway). Content with the music and the astoundingly blue sky I was sure nothing could make the day more perfect, but wait! The light was green!
Zoom! Through the green light I bounded. The empty road beckoned. The sky called my name. The Dragon roared. The police cruiser's flashing blue and red lights shown prettily in my review mirrors. The music spurred me on. The clea...ur...uh oh...what?
The police cruiser?
Where the heck did he come from? I wasn't even doing anything wrong. The light had definitely been green and I was not speeding...at least not yet.
I pulled over into the nearest parking lot, turned off the bike, and thumbed the "pause" button on my mp3 player. When I finished removing my helmet I looked up to a see police officer with his gun drawn. It was still barrel down...a Glock 9 mm I think...not quite pointed in my direction...but the threat was plain. I could feel the second officer behind me, and heard steel slide out of leather.
Obviously they were not Texans, and obviously have not encountered many despite working in the heart of the state. Threats and intimidation don't work very well on us. Neither do guns. It is not a good thing to pull a gun on a Texan unless you intend to immediately pull the trigger. Otherwise you stand a better than even chance of eating the gun as you do of firing it. Guns are not usually needed when dealing with a true Texan anyway. A little respect would have done a much quicker job without the potential of getting a bunch of folks killed. Friggen amateurs.
The officer in front of me had an odd look on his face.
"Are you all right sir?"
I did not understand the question. In this context it made no sense to me.
"Cool gun. I prefer 45's myself. Have I done something wrong?"
From behind me, "Answer the question sir."
I turned to face the officer behind me and got a clear view right down his barrel. His was definitely a Glock. The gun did not scare me, but the very young face of its owner did. What are these kids? 18? 19? Brrrr...
I turned back to the first officer, looked him in the eye, and smiled. "What's the question? What's the problem? What did I do?"
He relaxed a bit and slid the gun back into the holster.
"Sir, when you went through the intersection back there you were screaming. Is everything all right?"
My developing anger evaporated as the curiosity hit. "Screaming?" I laughed. "No, not me."
From behind me again, "We both heard it sir."
The officer in front of me nodded, "Quite shrilly sir." I looked closely at his face. He was struggling not to smile.
Suddenly it dawned on me. Screaming? No. I had not been screaming. It was worse. My rollicking mood and REO Speedwagon in perfect stereo had been the problem. See, I had been singing. Apparently not very well...and loud and long enough so that they could hear me even over the traffic and the aggressive rumble of The Dragon.
We all got a hell of a laugh out of my explanation. We spent quite some time there just talking about The Dragon. The massive black and chrome cruiser usually elicits comment. We also spoke of riding, the road, and music. I explained to them about Texans and guns, and they talked about some of the bozos they end up dealing with. I think we all learned something, and I believe we parted friends.
I know I cannot sing. I have never claimed that I could. But screaming? Enough to pull a gun on me?
Surely I am not that bad. Surely?
Sheesh. Everybody's a critic.