Sunday, May 25, 2008

"I never met a stranger..."

Since taking a philosophy class some semesters ago I began looking at knowledge from a different point of view. Not that I got anything out of the material, but this is likely the desired result of taking this class. That class was followed by a class on metaphor - no, not that metaphor we all talked about in English class back in the pre-digital age - but a deep look at how our brains are wired - Philosophy in the Flesh. This material pressed my shift key, or maybe it was my alt key.

I began to think about what the meaning of phrases like "I never met a stranger" mean both for "I" and for the non-stranger. What does this have to do with motorbikes you ask? Well, it is all about DIY: Do It Yourself.

I like to Do It myself. Not only as in fixing broken stuff without professional help, but I really like moving through the world myself. But why? Why is it that I like to spend hours myself in the garage figuring out stuff and breaking and then fixing it? Why do I like to enter a strange town myself and get off my bike and meet yet another non-stranger?

I get to know lots of people in a very short time and find them to be of great interest. From every person I learn something. I find varied little towns, with varied businesses and stuff. If I were on the tour bus, I would have met the high schoolers working at Shoneys. That, my friends, is scary.

So the motorbike is a vehicle that carries me not only along the surface of the earth, but into and around the lives of others. It is open (physically and metaphorically) and brings people out of some sealed box by allowing them to wave, smile, offer help and re-count stories of the significant people in their lives. I can't count how many "When I was a kid, my [dad, mother, brother, parole officer, best friend] had a bike just like [yours, that Harley, well it was black] and (s)he ran off and down the road to [Frisco, Alaska, New York, the Bayou, wherever] and whatever. This usually commences as I am trying to get to the mens room and undo three layers of riding gear in order to pee. I never tell them it is not a Harley....

This entry is spurred by a missed lunch appointment with some riding buddies at the Swinging Bridge Restaurant for lunch at 1PM today, except they arrived a little before noon. Anyway, since we drove slowly through the back roads of what is likely at least runner-up for nicest place on earth to get to the place, Ann put our name on the list and waited with an electronic thing in her hand. It never buzzed. Finally after 45 minutes a nice lady asked if we were waiting for a table and seated us and the couple who had just arrived a few minutes earlier at adjacent tables. Before we had even ordered we were in conversation and I actually knew the name of some obscure song named after a motorbike: "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" by Del McCrory. Now I have never HEARD the song but I have heard people talk about it and I have a strong desire to have the use of one of these legendary machines.

I have started one and driven it (a side car rig) around a fairgrounds in Indiana as a result of getting to know another non-stranger. I knew Doc for three days total. I even got to take him for a ride in his sidecar. It was very cool. The sound, the smell, the vibration, the feel of the rotating parts of the engine changing speed as I move the throttle one way or the other. The fact that after not riding a Brit bike with a right side shifter that is one up and three down for decades, it came naturally. There was a lot of adrenalin flowing in my veins. It was great.

So if I ever do find one in my driveway, I will enjoy it. I'm not holding my breath, but I buy a raffle ticket for one every year and so far, they haven't called out my number. Look at the photo and see if you see the Aura.

So the name of the song stuck in my mind. The guy asks his wife, who is sitting to the right of Ann, "What was the name of that song about a motorcycle?" and I say "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" (by Richard Thompson). Yeah. That was it. Now if we arrived at noon and ate with my old friends I would have not met these new friends. I bet our paths cross again. And he told me he'd send me something to do with that 1952 Vincent song. I think he might. Googled his name when we got home - he owns the record company. He is a person that was a founder of the bluegrass music business back in the day. Yeah, he does know Del McCrory.

My metaphorical motorbike opens doors into peoples lives for mutual benefit - people actually talking to one another. Others use different stuff. How much cooler than text messaging and my space. I won't even go into the story of his wife's Pontiac Solstice GPX parked outside. Pretty day for a rag-top ride....

And I find that I don't need to be by myself to DIY, a new lesson learned.

1 comment:

anilia said...

This reminds me of waiting for that famous racer to come autograph your picture at VMD. Waiting in line is something neither one of us would have done if that couple in their 70's hadn't been there to talk about riding down from North Dakota and all over creation since they were first together. Taking children cross country on side car rigs... It's always an adventure when you are open for it.