Glancing from side to side to make sure he hadn’t been overheard, I leaned forward and hissed, “Yes, but keep your voice down. Most people think I am a piano player in a whorehouse and I don’t want to lose my standing in the community.”
As it turns out, the manager (whose name is Spiros) has an adolescent daughter who is struggling with “composition” in high school, and wanted to know if there was anything I might be able to do to help... Tips or tricks that I could show her. I like this guy a lot. There have been dozens of times when I wandered into this place, in search of the ubiquitous soup and salad, only have him say, “The cook is from a province of northern Greece, and he is making something special today for the kitchen help and the waiters. Why don’t I bring you some of that? No charge, if you don’t like it.”
I have never “not liked it,” and many times there was no charge anyway. (I have never been able to figure this out.)
And so I met his daughter “Antonia,” a 15-year-old beauty whose lithe frame seemed to walk two inches above the pavement. Though somewhat reserved, she was very much the quintessential teenager in that her rate of texting matched the heartbeat of a squirrel in coitus. Yet when she spoke, her speech was devoid of the word “like,” which the average high schooler uses 72 times per minute, “Like, you know?”
Antonia seemed slightly self-conscious at working with me in a booth at her father’s diner. She found the table covered with sample papers, diagrams, and my laptop, which was tuned-in to a Harley Davidson blog, where the women were wearing tattoos and evil thoughts.
“You must be Antonia,” I said, hitting a key that switched the screen to a backdrop of the Acropolis. “Do you know why we had to meet here in the diner?” The question was purely rhetorical as I answered it without giving the poor kid a chance... “Because you’re too young to meet me in bar. Let’s get started.”
Since Antonia is a perfectly normal kid, with a zest for life and her whole zestful life in front of her, her decision to chuck high school composition was an understandable one. Her intense dislike of composition was twofold: one, the rules of English grammar rival Dutch Maritime Law for red hot interest; and two, her teacher has a face like a cat’s ass, all round, pink, and puckered.
Personally, I don’t think English composition is taught correctly these days. Some kids will be writers, and they need the pure, uncut, snort of the real thing. But millions of others simply need to be taught how to effectively communicate ideas on paper, in a manner that will ultimately support their conversational skills as well. (There will be a terrible price to pay for raising a generation that thinks in terms of 140 characters, “like, FaceBook, like you know,” unless of course we’re talking about campaign speeches.) All I wanted her to do was chat for a bit, so I could show her that good writing wasn’t much more difficult than simply speaking. So I asked her, “What do you like to do in your spare time?”
The first answer was mind-numbing. If left to her own devices, she would sleep 15 hours a day. For the other nine, she would play on-line video games.
“What kind of games,” I asked. “Can you show me on my computer?”
Thirty seconds later, I watched this genteel beauty systematically slaughter a legion of flesh-eating zombies, using an assault rifle, a flame-thrower, and white-phosphorous grenades. (She took out a sidewalk-full of panic-stricken bystanders, as the penalty for eliminating the innocent as “collateral damage” is much less than the bonus points awarded for killing the flesh-eating lobbyists at the top of the zombie food chain.) However, what amazed me the most was the detail in the graphics.
It looked real...
Several hundreds of the zombies were bikers, astride twin-cylinder cruisers and choppers that were realistic to the point where they leaked oil, stalled, and deafened those who were shortly to be eaten. You could count the the bolt-heads on the engine casings. And their maneuvering was virtually flawless. Their bikes turned, pivoted, wheelied, stoppied, and left burn-outs with precision. It was then I noticed that the rest of the game was the same way.
The greatest threat facing motorcycle riders today is the left-turning moron, facing into the sun, with a cell phone glued to his or her ear, driving a minivan filled with screaming kids. I would take a roomful of fleshing-eating lobbyists over this scenario any day of the week. The second greatest threat is any part of the above combo, enhanced by rain, darkness, gravel, and stupid deer (moose, elk, chickens, etc.) wandering out into the road. But nothing is a dangerous as a stupid driver reading email, chatting on a cell phone, eating a super, mega-fat burger, or programing a GPS at 67 miles-per-hour.
Their excuse for vehicular manslaughter is always the same: “I didn’t see the motorcycle.”
My thought is to provide a taste of this situation, without the tragedy, by adding an inter-active eye-test/motorcycle cognizance segment to the standard driving test. Applicants would be required to play an on-line game where they would have to pick out the motorcycle in traffic, and correctly maneuver around or toward it, as per the traffic situation. Now since the average high-school boy might exit one of these tests with the attitude, “Got me three bikers,” there should be a penalty for loosing. Failure to correctly pass this test could result in a probational approval, with the potential for higher insurance rates.
Or, if the failure in the interactive part of the test resulted in the theoretical fatality of the virtual rider, the license could be denied. Personally, at this juncture in the test, I think it would be fine if six bikers then came out from behind a screen and beat the living shit out of the applicant, saying things like, “Can you see us now, you stupid asshole?” I think we should put this level of technology to work. What do you think? Leave a comment. Let me know.
Twisted Roads Day At Hermy’s Tire and Cycle
August 27, 2011... 9am - 2 pm
Have coffee and donuts with Jack Riepe... And listen to a few of his stories:
• Why the jaws of life are mounted on the back of his bike!
• How a motorcycle saved his first three marriages!
• Lines women never believe and always swallow!
Hermy’s is located on Route 61 (Southbound), Port Clinton, Pa. The shop is only 5 minutes north of the interchange with I-78 (Hamburg, Pa) and is an easy ride from New Jersey and Maryland.
©Copyright Jack Riepe 2011