project revealed -
It's a motorcycle.
Surprised? I didn't think so. I am, after all, forty-five. My age and other vital statistics may set me up for the deepest mid-life crisis available. I'm willing to offer that I'm having one if you can define for me just what a mid-life crisis is and show me how it measures up to what's going on here. I can't deny this nearly tangible sense of midpoint I have regarding my lifespan, nor will I deny that I intend to use all the tools at my disposal for exploring this mirrored psychological landscape I find myself in. One of those tools is, for me, a motorcycle.
If you are inclined to pooh-pooh the idea of a mid-life crisis, or are apt to ridicule those who admit to having one, then you may want to just mosey on. I bow to your sublime hipness from which pulsates a keen and discerning cynicism, divinely bitter in its concision, and sweet in its social currency. As for me, well, my own experience says it's best not to ignore how I'm feeling.
So anyway, it's a motorcycle. Motorcycles are about freedom and control. And who doesn't want those? They are machines that can offer an evaluation of self through challenge, skill development, and the appreciation of visceral reward. A second tier of qualities these machines provide includes the aesthetics of mechanical design, belonging to a recognized tribe and finding value in its mythology, and... Danger. The word itself is loaded with explosive possibilities. And then there's the fistfights and cops and bandanas and boots and leather. Leather, my friend, l e a t h e r.
Mine is one of those big beefy kinds of motorcycles, which is in keeping with the traditional concerns of a forty-five-year-old man; see Big Beef, The Care, Feeding, and Advertisement/Reiteration Of His. The beast is black, with lots of shiny bits, though when mingling with the herd I do not call them shiny bits. The least manly term I use while in uniform is geegaws.
It is wrong to suggest that motorcycles are solely a man thing. I can think of nothing sexier than a woman who enjoys freedom and control. If she happens to be astride 600lbs of throbbing iron I say bully for her. Anyone who enjoys the pleasures of a good ride enjoys the pleasures of the universe, it seems to me, and if that person is decidedly female then I am nothing but pleased to gaze upon her.
I undertook this secret quest with the conspiratorial help of Chuck Atkins, a man of irrefutable masculinity, who allowed me to commandeer his own iron horse as a sort of refresher course for my motorcycle skills. He was sworn to silence and fulfilled his role as only a friend can, with trust and encouragement. He held hurdles high, and cut me loose on the streets of the San Fernando Valley with the driest of eyes and paid-up insurance. I am indebted to him not just for his silence but for his willingness to continue on adventures together, as we have in the past, only now with each upon his own steed.
And yes, I'm keeping the Vespa.
"Feelin' Kinda Lucky" -- Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys -- FEELIN' KINDA LUCKY
"If you're going
to repair a motorcycle, an adequate supply of gumption is the first and
most important tool. If you haven't got that you might as well gather up
all the other tools and put them away, because they won't do you any
- Robert M. Pirsig