Summertime... and the livin’ is easy!
I went on a “Mother’s Day Run” the other day that has been put on by a local riding club called “The Buckaroos” for the past 37 years. The club has been around many years longer than even that and though I’ve ridden this run many times in the past, it’s been a while. This time I was reminded once again of just how much fun and hassle-free a well thought out run hosted by VERY experienced riders can be. The participants numbered about 225 (a great turn-out) and everyone had a good time on a sunny day.
In our ABATE region (Region Zero), we’re fortunate in that we have a reliable and responsible Road Captain (Ron Hart Jr.) creating fun and safe routes for our regional runs, as well as officers who take great care in helping to organize all the extra fuss that goes with them (sign up, staffing the stops, food, insurance, promotion, etc.) But I’ve also been on a few runs put on by other clubs, organizations, and even private businesses (who are usually just out to make some bucks), that have been very poorly planned and executed.
There’s one local yearly run (whose name I won’t mention here) that is so grossly over-attended by a few thousand bikes that I won’t even go on it anymore after witnessing inexperienced riders running into each other in parking lots, bikes getting into traffic mishaps due to poor planning, super-long waits standing in the lengthy lines at each stop, and route directions that are often so obscure and confusing that many people become easily lost unless they’re riding with locals who are familiar with the area and the stops. Now, getting lost CAN be fun, but not when you’re surrounded by excitable and confused semi-drunk newbies going every which way on bikes they can’t seem to control under any circumstance. I’m not paranoid, I’m just aware of some other folk’s lack of riding chops. You should become so too if you’re not.
Some of those other runs, whether it’s a poker run, a procession run, or even a parade with official police escorts, can turn into something sorta like that “Running with the Bulls” thing that takes place in a little town in Spain where idiots try to outrun (on foot) the bulls that are bred for bullfights as they stampede through the city on their way to the bullring where they’re slowly tortured to death for entertainment by some OTHER idiots with swords. I tend to try to keep my distance from people like that LOL.
So, for those of you who have NOT been on many runs: Pick and choose which ones you attend carefully, as well as the people you ride on ‘em with. I gotta say that every ABATE run I’ve ever been on was put on by people who know how to do it and have been putting them on for a very long time.
Okay, enough of that...
I was visiting with some friends who have small children the other day and something happened that was adorable, and yet kinda weird in that it invoked an odd memory. This little girl (who was legally too young to ride... I think she was three) asked if I’d take her for a spin on my scoot. I told her, “You’re still too tiny, but in a few years Sweetie.” Then I winked at her mom who smiled when her daughter replied, “Then I can’t wait to get big!”
Well that wink reminded me of a houseguest who stayed with me for a few months a few years ago. I charged her minimal rent in exchange for minimal housekeeping. Anyway, I can’t even remember the specific thing we were talking about that day, but it was an innocent exchange like her asking me to pick up something for her from Walmart... shampoo, Q-tips, or whatever. I slowly replied, “Well, I guess so” like it was a big deal, then I winked at her implying that I was only kidding and of course I would.
Man! Did she get pissed off!! Not about anything I said or how I said it, but about the fact that I had winked at her! It took me a few minutes to even realize that she had the “winking thing” all wrong! It took me even longer than that to calm her down and explain to her that uncles, dads, and grandfathers often winked at little kids as a tease or a joke. Couples wink at each other as a sign of endearment, and a strange guy might even wink at a female to imply that she was cute and he was flirting with her. If she initiates or even simply returns the wink, then the game is afoot and it’s all good.
But this woman was raised by a single mother, had no other known male relatives, and apparently she thought that winking at someone was some kind of derision, like an obscene finger gesture or something. This poor woman must have thought all of her life that if someone winked at her (and she was a babe), it was a very BAD thing! At most, winking could be considered flirtatious, it could mean a prank is being played on someone, or maybe a fib is being told or a joke was being shared... but I never heard of anyone getting so pissed about a WINK!
I could see a woman maybe ignoring a few of them if they were persistently from an annoying guy who kept trying to hit on her, but to get that pissed off about one wink from someone who shared the same bathroom? LOL! On that day I realized two things: (1.) That living with this individual was getting to be too much of a hassle, and (2.) That the misunderstanding of what most of us might think of as socially common knowledge and behavior might not be so common to many of us.
For instance, most of us know what giving somebody the finger means... but do we really? I’m not so sure. I learned from a history professor long ago that it goes back to the ancient Greeks, but he wouldn’t explain what it means to the class because it’s nasty and not publically correct (that’s why I’m glad I never became a teacher... I’d be in jail for many reasons). Years later I was told by an old Greek guy I worked with that it had something to do with a goat, but I still have no idea what because HE wouldn’t tell me either! Now, whenever somebody gives someone else the finger, I doubt if THEY know what it really means. I’ve since realized it can even be a sign of friendship and brotherhood.
Some years ago Haskell down in Region 5 gave me the finger out of the blue at a June Jam, and for a few seconds I didn’t know why he did it, or what to think! I DID know we were buddies, so I ignored it at the time and didn’t ask him, “WTF?!! Are you winking at me?” LMAO!
Likewise, in Vietnam if you sit facing someone with your feet splayed open instead of closely aligned, THAT means something extremely rude, but I still don’t know exactly what.
In the Middle East and many Arab cultures, you never use your left hand for anything like giving or accepting change, especially if it involves food (like passing someone a sandwich or something to drink). There, traditionally the left hand is considered “dirty”. That probably comes from the fact that there aren’t any trees in the desert to produce paper products. (Figure it out LOL!)
My Grandmother (the one who nicknamed me “Bum”) tried to teach me, “Always fill your soup spoon by scooping it way from you in the bowl rather than towards you. That way people won’t think you’re a bum.” I dunno... perhaps some fancy-shmancy “classy” people are so damned stupid and uncoordinated that they’re always worried about splashing soup onto the front of their tuxedos and gowns. That’s how I ended up with this name and I still don’t know what that was all about. Hell, I don’t even eat soup that often! When I do, I just lower my face to the table and lap it up like a dog (I mean if yer gonna get into something, then get into it!) Later my beard allows me to enjoy the leftovers.
Manners, traditions, superstitions, and customs can usually be explained by examining history if ya really wanna take the time to investigate them.
Regarding that, I’m one of the few people I know who climbs on bikes from the right side. That’s because of a bullet I took in the spine in my dumb days (fortunately that’s the only noticeable result of all that now). But most people do NOT mount a bike from the right side simply because of a tradition that goes back to the way a horse is mounted: Men used to wear swords on their left side because most people were right-handed and they’d need to reach over to their left side to remove their sword from its scabbard. Well, ya can’t easily mount a horse from the right with a sword dangling down your left leg. And that’s also why bikes are usually manufactured with the kickstands on the left causing the bike to lean that way when parked... by then people were just used to climbing up onto a horse from its left. Just about all horses are raised, trained, and have become accustomed over the past few thousand years to being mounted on their left, so it might confuse ‘em and make them uncomfortable and skittish if you don’t. That’s where those traditions come from.
As a matter of fact that’s also why in Britain they drive on the left side of the road. If you approached an oncoming possible foe from the left lane you could slash at him with your right sword arm.
On many foreign motorcycles (and pre-1975 Sportsters), the shifter is on the right because a racetrack runs counter-clockwise. This means that your left foot can almost drag in the dirt (or on the blacktop) leaving your right foot clear to shift the gears. After 1975 all American street bikes had to be manufactured to shift on the left due to the new national production standards. But speaking of racing...
Ever hear that a green motorcycle was bad luck? Well that old superstition isn’t around so much anymore anyway and back when it was commonly known to old-school bikers, THAT wasn’t even supposed to be about bikes... it was about racecars. Bikes were mistakenly substituted into the legend. So don’t worry if you’re superstitious and your bike is green.
It all goes back to 1910 when a horrible accident sent driver Lee Oldfield’s green racecar flying into the grandstands at the New York State Fair in Syracuse killing several spectators. Oldfield survived, but had to live with that tragedy for the rest of his life and that was where the superstition was born. Then, in 1920 Gaston Chevrolet (his family is where the car company got its name) was racing his green Chevy at the Beverly Hills Speedway in California on a large oval wooden board track over a mile in length, when he collided with another car killing himself, the driver of the other car, and the other car’s mechanic (they rode in the car back then with the driver). That cemented the idea that green was not a good color to choose when selecting a car, a bike, or a steak. (What? Did I just say that out loud?)
Well, my belly’s grumbling and I’m thinking about a steak, so I better go fire up the grill.