Thursday, May 19, 2011

Motorcycles: The First Chapter

When I was 18, I bought a motor scooter to commute from home to the University of Washington (aka UW, or Udub). Lucky for me, I lived only about eight miles from the UW! It would have sucked had my parents lived in Idaho, requiring me to cross over two mountain passes twice a day to get to and from college everyday. My first scooter was a Lambretta, a very good brand built in Italy. Lesser known than Vespa (also Italian), it was nonetheless, a rightious set of wheels.

Months later, I had a chance to buy my best friend's Vespa, so I sold the Lambretta. The Vespa had a smaller motor (not as fast - meaning even less acceleration), but it belonged to my best friend, and because of that, I had to own it. BTW, I met this kid in junior high school and he still remains one of my closest friends. It was 1952 when we met and that means that our friendship began 58 years ago. We live 770 miles apart now, but still manage to see one another every year or two, and we talk on the phone at least once a month.

Owning a motor scooter is like owning a tricycle. Sooner or later, you're going to want a motorcycle. Motor scooters still provide the thrill of riding among big heavy cars on two wheels, but scooters are so anemic in the power department. While they don't provide the thrills and sheer terror of a wickedly fast motorcycle, the scooter crowd can still be counted upon as a reliable source for organ donors; they deserve our respect. However, their lack of speed can be dangerous. This became totally evident to me when I headed out one evening on my trusty little Vespa to ride along the Seattle waterfront on a viaduct (over the top of the waterfront) with very limited access and regress. As I roared along the 3-lane above-the-ground motorway (sometimes reaching speeds of 42 MPH), some kids drove up next to me and started throwing empty beer cans at me. I couldn't get away from them. If I slowed down, they did the same. I couldn't go as fast as their car, so I just had to endure the ride, and they had been drinking a lot of beers. For the next mile or two, all I could think about was selling this pig and buying a super fast, proper motorcycle that would leave their old jalopy in my rear view mirrors. Within a couple of weeks, I had purchased a used (but gleaming chrome and candy-apple-red red paint) Triumph Bonneville... the most potent bike on earth. Although my bike was gorgeous, it was almost impossible to kick-start, and vibrated so profusely I was having to constantly re-tighten all the bolts, nuts, screws, etc. On a number of occasions, I had to have a local motorcycle shop come to my house and haul the bike back to their shop and try to get the bike to start more easily. This bike was extremely fast and loud and I felt like a real tough guy when I sat in the saddle with my hands holding tightly onto the handlebars. Then, if if I was lucky enough to get it to start and actually ride it, I felt even tougher.

I hate to leave you on the edge of your seat, but I plan to continue this epic journey through my motorcycle adventures at a later time. Don't worry, there will be more...

Mongo Dude

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Compliment or Insult?

I have no idea what this guy was saying... but here are things he might have said:

"You smell like a delicate pink rose".
"You smell like Paris in the springtime".

"You smell like a Walmart shopper".
"You smell like a rotten fig that fell from the tree".