Say What?

This post is more about the geezer half of my life, rather than the motorcycling 10% or the grudging 40%.

Passing 60 is like getting passed by a bicyclist on a mountain road; not only are you clearly too conservative to be driving on public roads (and, maybe, golf courses) but you are too unaware of your wimpiness to hide it. Everything starts failing at once: eyes, ears, nose, taste buds, muscle tone, reflexes, and all the stuff I forgot to mention because memory also goes.

There is a type of old biker that, particularly, has to be in incredible danger because not only does this sort of nut ride practically everywhere with his wife on the passenger seat but the crazy moron is also helmet-wired for conversation. Anyone who ever tried to talk to a grandparent about anything semi-complicated knows where this is going.

I get a taste of this every time my wife comes into my office to watch the Colbert Report. Every other thing Steven says gets punctuated by my wife asking, "What did he say?" If his buddy, "Jimmy," puts up a graphic with words smaller than full-screen height and width, my wife asks, "What does that say?"

Like most Boomer babes, my wife refuses to wear glasses, wouldn't be caught dead wearing a hearing aid, and can't see anything smaller than a coffee cup or hear anything quieter than a shotgun blast. When I come into a room when she's been watching television by herself, it sounds like Oprah or Ellen singing along with Led Zeppelin live. If the reverse is true, she asks, "Why are you watching a movie with the sound turned off?"

Now, put that sort of relationship on a motorcycle. You're in a stream of freeway traffic on a 900 pound cruiser or touring bike and she's constantly whacking you on the back of the head, shouting into your headset, "What did that sign say? What's that noise? Did that kid give me the finger? Where do you want to eat? What? Where do you want to eat? I can't hear you." And so it goes until you finally smash the bike into the back of a bus while trying to reply to your wife in sign language, since words are useless.

In one of my favorite lyrics, Bob Dylan once sang, "You ask why I don't live here. I say, 'Man, I don't believe you don't leave.'" When I bump into an older couple on the road, wired up like space monkeys, in one of the many hilarious coordinated costumes that paired-up motorcyclists wear, and wondering why my wife isn't along for the ride, all I am hearing while they yammer at me is Bob Dylan's "On the Road Again." Which is where I want to be the moment they start talking to me. and will be as soon as I finish eating, get off of the damn ferry, or get my tank filled and escape to the solitude of the road.

Way back in March of 2001, I wrote a rant called A Failure to Communicate about a friend who was turning insistent on the "radio-in-the-helmet thing." I eventually went straight with him and asked, "Why do I want to talk to you, while I'm riding my motorcycle?" He thought that was a personal insult. People who knew me better knew that comment applied to anyone and everyone. Staying rubber-side down, away from idiot cagers, and on top of my own tendency to daydream myself into a ditch takes all of the limited geezer concentration I own. Your mileage may vary, but I doubt it.

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