Thursday, January 12, 2012

“What The Hell?” A Reader Asks...



Dear Twisted Roads:

What the hell is it with you lately? Every time I read this column, which is quite often, you are either riding off to pop some floozie or clinging to your motorcycle after a boudoir toss with a brunette. What happened to the plain, all-guys adventure? Has there ever been a time when you just got on your bike, rode off into the sunset by yourself, and didn’t once think of knocking off a piece? Now I hang with the same BMW riding club that you do and I know that none of those guys ever thought about laying some pipe when they’re on the road, ‘cos none of them would stand a chance of scoring any anyway.

Sincerely,
James “The Chip Man”


Dear Mr. Chips:

If you read a previous blog post of mine, titled “The Throttle Or The Breast,” you would have come across the line, “The motorcycle is a metaphor for life.” Regardless of whether you are a man or a woman, the motorcycle is also a common metaphor for a six-foot-long, throbbing phallus. Guys see it as theirs, and women see it as something they’d love to take through a curve (or enslave), while wearing boots. The average man consciously or unconsciously thinks about getting laid 120 times a minute (approximately once each heartbeat). Consequently, it is almost impossible to ride a motorcycle any distance without having a fantasy about the 36-year-old blond waitress driving the minivan next to you. (Please understand that I don’t make the rules, but only play the game.) And these statistics double if you are a guy between the ages of 19 and 25.

So nearly all of my stories entail some element of “cherchez la femme” as a kind of cause and effect situation. And yet there are those moments when I do rise above my natural instincts to be a male alone in the elements with a motorcycle. One such moment occurred last week, on one of the warmest nights of the year. I have titled the incident:

“A Man, A Motorcycle, And The Moon On The Dunes of North Cape May”

There is an elusive quality about the seashore that has remained outside my grasp. Perhaps because it has been my poor luck to walk the strand at the height of the summer season, when the beach is filled with tanned, lean individuals (both men and women), who seem to sizzle sensuality, while I blister and burn or find the greatest concentration of Jellyfish in the surf. Yet my recent exile to Cape May (following the implosion of the relationship I thought would last a thousand years) has brought out-of-season beaches, jetties, and dunes within easy reach. I can now gauge the mood of the ocean, watch the steady beam of the lighthouse, or see the tide turn angry as the placid Delaware contests the Atlantic — in a bay nearly ten miles wide — within five minutes of my desk.

This is in contrast to the green valleys around Lancaster, Pa., where I used to ride with Dick Bregstein, and others, to get my mind clean. It would take a good 45 minutes to get out to Lancaster, to find the quaint little roads, and to smile when the kindly Amish would spit when my motorcycle whined by. (The beautiful women on the beach would never spit on me... Though they would dress me with their eyes.)

All is far from perfect though... The damp sea air — despite its mildness this winter — is playing hell with my arthritis, which is getting steadily worse. There is no real garage for the motorcycle, other than a rustic shed, with no guarantee that vermin nor the elements (which must eventually come) won’t adversely affect this flawless K75. And so it is with a heavy heart that I concluded this bike must be stored elsewhere, and consigned it to a garage in Pennsylvania, owned by a friend. Sleep was impossible on the night before it was to go. I felt like a cowboy sending his horse off to camp; or a Viking, about to misplace his battle axe.

It was one of those shore nights where switching off the lamp on the bedside table simply exchanged one light for another. Silver moonlight poured in through the windows and I realized I could see everything around me in a muted detail.

“Screw this,” I thought. “Time for one last ride this season.”

This was another of my recent decisions that ran shy of apparent wisdom. I could feel my right knee strain as I jammed that leg into a boot. And that was the easy one. My left hip felt like it was about to pop when I worked the zipper and Velcro tab into place on my footgear. The K75 is a tall bike, and it now takes a grimace and a grunt to get my foot up to the peg on the left side. I sat on the rig in the darkened driveway and thought about the magic metaphor of the motorcycle. Starting the engine tonight seemed like the final movement in an opera where the lovers are killed by middle-management clerks in a paperwork dispute. And yet, one is compelled to pursue some things to the end.

Above) The dunes of North Cape May, on Delaware Bay, on a perfect, mild winter day. Photo by the author.

I hit the two rocker switches on the dash and flooded this quiet shore street with pure light. Then I snicked the bike into gear and headed toward the dunes of North Cape May. This place must be a madhouse in the summer, but I was the only thing moving on this night. Delaware Bay was to my left. An artificial horizon of lights, which were a row of freighters, tankers, and container ships at anchor four or five miles out in the channel, seemed motionless on the gently heaving surface of silver. I moved along in no hurry, with the motor barely whispering at 20 miles per hour. It was long past midnight and the temperature was still close to 50ยบ — in January. Even though the moon was as bright as neon, the sky was laced with stars and the effect was dazzling.

Because my K75 was built by Germans following the letter of the law, there is no way to switch off all of the lights when the engine is running. Otherwise, I’d have ghosted along by the stars and the moonlight. I can’t help but hear music in my head whenever I ride... Music to meet the occasion. Generally, I hear Steppenwolf, the Ramones, Patti Smith, or Blue Oyster Cult... The kind of soothing music that brings out the best in a tachometer. Tonight, however, I could hear Chris Isaak crooning “Wicked Game,” to the rich liquid strains of a steel guitar.

Fifty degrees is certainly warm for the Jersey Shore in January, but any change in temperature can suggest an immediate pull-over for a middle-aged man. I was wearing light leather gloves and my fall gear, without a liner. Stopping to look at the water admitted enough of a chill to my kidneys to warrant an immediate dismount. Now this presents no challenge for a guy with good knees and hips. But that damn sand was all over the pavement and I was faced with getting the bike far enough off the road not to present an obstruction, while not slipping in the grit.

Taking a piss on the dunes in a shore town during the summer will get you strapped into the electric chair faster than you can imagine. But there wasn’t a soul around, and my need could only be described as pressing. I maneuvered over the dunes and into a little depression between the street and the strand. Without a second to spare, I released Thor’s Iguana and gave a mighty sigh of relief.

This was followed a second later by a popping noise, not unlike a cork coming out of a champagne bottle, as my left hip gave up the ghost.

I went down like a sack of concrete... On my back... Describing a steady trajectory that wavered like the Fountains of Wayne in the moonlight. Now the pure entertainment value of this spectacle was only surpassed by the creative nature of the expletives I hissed as I pissed. To this scenario add the one police car that must have been cruising this entire community. He flashed the roof-lights and played a spotlight over the beach for a second or two, before continuing on. The light passed over me, as I lay in the sand, with my fate in my hand.

“This could be a hard one to explain,” I thought.

I counted to 60 before I clawed my way back to the bike. I had sand in my boots and in my pants. It took me ten tries to get my leg over the seat, and then I sat there for a while. The guys came to pick my bike up the next day.

“You’ve got sand on the muffler,” noted one. “Did you ride this on the beach?”

“In my dreams,” I replied.

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

So there you go... A story in which a skirt doesn’t figure once.

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2012

Addendum:

I am continually surprised by the folks who end up reading Twisted Roads... In the last month, I encountered a woman who was the very first pillion rider on the first motorcycle I ever owned. She was the first to ever kiss the sleep from my eyes at dawn too... And she did it in such a way that colored the rest of the day like the Rose Window in Notre Dame. Since all I can get her to do now is leave intriguing public comments, I have decided to throw my cell phone into the Atlantic Ocean tonight... At 9:30pm EST... Unless of course, she calls me.

46 comments:

Dan Mckenzie said...

Now I know what to do with my afternoon...just sit here and savor the images of this story. Motorcycle meditation...sweet...

Charlie6 said...

"Thor's Iguana"....outstanding!

You describe in vivid prose what it would be like to ride in moonlit bliss....and yeah, no way to turn off the dang headlight....not without getting "creative" anyways.

Creative folks get the snub from the Beemer purists....they positively look down their nose at my R80, as I've modified to fit where needed.

dom

Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

Richard Machida said...

Strange, mine has a switch that looks original that turns the headlight on/off. Maybe without a proper cooling system, it'll overheat.

Great story!

Flimsky said...

As an old Jesuit used to say, "VBBL, Void Bladder Before Leaving."

mq01 said...

still have your cellphone jack or did it ring?

signed, the now nosy ms m.
lol...

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Ms. Mqo1:

Why didn't you just try calling to see if it worked? Besides, what's your best guess?

Fondest regards,
Jack/Reep

Anonymous said...

Dear Jack

You know it's complicated -
connecting with my past. There are things I want to remember and
things I don't.

Besides you're a writer- I don't want reality , a fast forward of 35 years, to color your stories. Your stories provide a window into my past , but not from my perspective.

I can't believe that you remember that I used to tie a bandana on the belt loop of my jeans.

I'd forgotten that.


lost in emotions
Snowqueen

P.S. Stay off the damn dunes.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear SnowQueen,

So I went out to the ocean last night to throw my phone in the water. A small crowd of readers had gathered to see if you'd call, and they counted down the minutes. I am sorry to say I saw money change hands as a number of folks bet against the house, apparently. The trouble with the ocean is that it moves every 12 hours, and it was a lot closer than I anticipated. Consequently, I fell in up to my eyebrows. Even more money changed hands at that point.

This is Twisted Roads... To a degree, you get to color reality... Tinting the bleak points with a shade called "the best possible light." You get to remember the best parts, and gloss over the rest. Nobody asks a lot of questions. Many of my readers believe I am nothing more than a severed head in an aquarium tank. One, a man in Key West, has suggested the aquarium tank is actually a toilet.

You have a special license... I will write anything you want solely from your perspective...

I would love to write what it is you remember about bring on the back of my bike... About the placed we went to... And the sensations of the moment. (I would prefer to avoid phrases like "You son of a bitch... And then you became a total asshole..." Or "It was at that point I considered cutting your throat as you slept." While these are understandable, there is no point in alarming the masses.)

More...

Anonymous said...

Excellent story old boy. I, for one, see the relationship between sex and the motor cycle to be an obvious one, and I see no reason to pry them apart. If anyone is looking for an all-guys adventure, I suggest they check out the bar scene in The West Village.

Jack Riepe said...

SnowQueen con't.

You will be amazed at how I have learned my craft in the past 35 years. How I now know not to write a word without purpose... And that the purpose needn't be my purpose... And that I don't really own the story... That it exists as a reality between the characters and the reader...

You'd be amazed at what I remember... The bandana tied to your belt loop is just one detail. I remember thr red jersey you used to sleep in... I remember your perfume (Nina Ricci)... I can remember the scent of it in your hair... And I can remember the color of candle smoke in your eyes... And I remember filling those eyes with tears.

I remember it all. I can't believe you're reading any of this. I can't believe I am either.

You can never be really lost if you can get your bearings by looking up.

Thank you for being a Twisted Roads reader... But thank you for being behind a thousand exquisite memories that any other guy would kill to have... It's not quite dawn yet, but I'm going to watch the sun come up over the ocean... And listen to the pounding of the surf... And then I have to come back here and write something funny.

How hard can that be?

In exile...
Jack

Anonymous said...

(spoken in a breathless whisper)


Was it an iphone?


SnowQueen

Jack Riepe said...

Dear SnowQueen,

I think I have had my chained pulled by an expert. I salute you. If this is the real SnowQueen, complete this sentence: On our first date, you took me to a
(Insert word).

You can reach me at jack.Riepe@gmail.com

Sincerely,
Jack

Anonymous said...

Dear Jack


You took me to a submarine called the

SS Ling

Best date ever!!!


SnowQueen

Jack Riepe said...

SnowQueen,

It is you!!!!!!!!

Okay... You won't call and you won't send me an email address... You made me throw a perfectly good, brand new iPhone into the ocean... And you virtually dare me to write a story from your perspective -- without giving me your perspective.

Is this a test? Cos if it is I'm going to write that story for Monday. Your perspective will be what I say it should be. Happy now, Ruds?

SEE HOW YOU ARE! (I remembered that phrase too.) Is Pizza Town still there?

Sincerely,
Jack

Anonymous said...

Jack

The SS Ling, being a submarine, was 'close quarters' and I remember as we manuevered through tight spots we were forced to brush up against each other slightly. It was very sensual. Then I noticed a brown bag colored tag hanging from a piece of equipment. It read THIS IS YOUR OWN PERSONAL SCREW. I thought this was hysterical, so I ripped it off and stuck it in my pocket. As we were leaving the 'Ling', I handed it to you. I wish I could write the look on your face. It was as far from the battered baby seal look as can be imagined. Anyway that's how I remember it.

It's starting to flurry here.

SnowQueen

Jack Riepe said...

Dear SnowQueen:

My memory of the event matches yours exactly. So I have decided to make that little story my blog for Monday (after filling in the cracks). Now I will do a "He recalls/She recalls" presentation of the text, with the female part, as I can reconstruct it, in italics. Naturally, I'd be delighted to send it to you for review first. Can you send an email address to me at jack.riepe@gmail.com?

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Dan:

It's true, the images conjured up by this story are a little less than pastoral. But that's how it is with motorcycles. You have to take the adventure with the rides where everything goes according to plan.

Thanks for reading Twisted Roads and for getting the most out of this story... Meditation-wise.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Chrlie6 (Dom):

This little New Jersey community (actually a group of communities) offers some really magnificent views of the ocean, the beach, and the bay. On these last super (and unusual) days of a warm January, it has been the nicest weather for riding a bike. And the bikes have been out too.

Riding around the water at night, in a traffic-free situation, is remarkable. But you can bet this place will fill up like a bus station come May.

Thanks for reading Twisted Roads, and for leaving a comment.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Richard M.:

You have hit the mark in describing the joys of owing a BMW "R" bike from the Eisenhower administration. I would love to be able to switch everything off at my discretion. There was a time when having a bike's lights on all the time was essential for visibility. Now that all car headlights are on all the time, it's easy to have a machine's sole headlamp blend in with traffic — unless framed by running lights.

Those come on and off at my whim on the K75.

Thanks for reading my blog and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Flimsky:

There are times on a motorcycle when the bladder calls the shots.

Thanks for reading my blog, pointing it out to others, and leaving a comment.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Anonymous (Old Boy):

To me, it is impossible to separate the motorcycle from it's real good time image. And I feel like a kid everytime I get on one.

Thanks for reading my blog, and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

Anonymous said...

Dear Snow Queen,
Two words.... CALL HIM!!

In 1974 I didn't call someone and it's taken me until 2010 to rectify that oversight.

Anonymous said...

Jack,
Think I've been reading a couple years now. I forget how I stumbled across your blog. From here it's been all down hill though. Started reading "Behind Bars" then "For Love of a Motorbike" then really hit the gutter and started reading "Key West Diary". LOL

I always enjoy your stories and never fail to get a good laugh. You always seem to have one or two exceptionally great lines that just put a good thick layer of frosting on whatever you are describing. Those usually get coppied and pasted into instant messages to co-workers.

I ride a Yamaha FJR1300 and, similar to you, suffer from some physical problems that sometimes make riding a lot more of a chore than I would like. My lower back is what acts up and makes the long distance riding I would love to do a near impossibility.

mq01 said...

interesting. i too recently had an ex approach me via my blog, 20 yrs after my eyes filled with tears...sigh... anyway, we took our convo offline, and in retrospect its a shame because i find this thread to be rather entertaining! lol...

snowqueen, call him :)

signed,
the now curious between fiction and non,
ms m

Anonymous said...

I find myself being as fascinated by Snow Queen's posts as by Jack's. I REALLY think they need to collaborate!!

Jack,
re: the odd things you remember and don't remember about long ago times...

Just today I was discussing how it is very odd what I remember and what I have forgotten since 1974. I can remember following what I felt was a very well formed bottom as she walked up a hill in front of me (she thought she was too skinny at the time) I reached out to hook her belt loop with my finger so she could help "pull me up the hill" and the belt loop pulled loose on the bottom seam. I felt so bad about damaging her jeans. I can remember in vivid detail the first time I told her I loved her and she said the same to me. But I can't for the life of me remember kissing her. She is able to remember that in great detail.

Will start signing my posts "1974" so we can keep the anonymous posters straight!

1974

Jack Riepe said...

Dear 1974:

There really is nothing to collaborate. The SnowQueen is being very gracious in providing me with some pleasant memories. She sent me a warm note explaining that if there was one motorcycle more peculiar than a reddish-purple Kawasaki H2, it would be a BMW K75. She said it took s certain kind of man to ride a K75... She didn't know what kind of man that was, but she thought it rhymed with "douche."

She did claim to be impressed by my offer to throw my laptop in the ocean, but only if the bike went in first. The SnowQueen giveth, and the SnowQueen taketh away. She is a cold-hearted SnowQueen...

I will present a new blog on Monday, titled, "Take Her Down." Naturally, the motorcycle is the focal point of the story.

Fondest regards,
Jack/Reep

Anonymous said...

Dear Jack,
Oh well...the back and forth between you and Snow Queen is as much fun as your stories. I must say this is about the only blog where I read the comments as eagerly as the blog itself!

In my case I got really lucky with my blast from the past. She turned out to be not only amazingly beautiful on the outside, but inside as well. I am finding whole new worlds where I can share equally with a woman instead of compromising on everything. This one even LOVES to ride pillion on my bike!

One "secret" we have discovered is a good relationship is not 50/50...it's 100/100. We each give everything to please the other.

A fun example... Most guys try to avoid helping out in the kitchen. But if the woman you are helping is wearing nothing more than a cami top and "cheekie" style panties then then the kitchen is where I'm going to be!!

In other words, I give my 100% to help her and she gives her 100% to help make it more enjoyable for me!

Now....get back to writing that book!

1974

Circle Blue said...

The moonlight ride. Loved the description and the urge to "ghost" ride the night. Very nice. Thanks for the images.
~k

Jack Riepe said...

Dear 1974:

Please do not hesitate to send in a photograph the instant she decides to ride pillion wearing only a cami top and checked panties. After all, this is the blog dedicated to raw moto adventure and romance like broken glass. You could win a box of cookies for that one.

Fondest regards,
Jack/Reep

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Keith,

Your kind note this morning gave me some inspiration for a new blog episode. Thanks for writing in and for reading Twisted Roads.

Fondest regards,
Jack/Reep

Jack Riepe said...

SnowQueen:

In what detail and how much license do I have with Monday's piece?

Jack...

Anonymous said...

Dear Jack
Your stories are "Your" stories; that's what makes them great. I'm just along for the ride like all the other 'Twisted Roads' readers.
Just write a great story.

And while you do accuse me of some horrible things, the thing I take the greatest exception to is when you say that I didn't love that bike. I loved that bike as much as you did and felt the same sense of exhileration when we tore up the road.


Enjoying the ride

SnowQueen

Jack Riepe said...

Dear SnowQueen,

You wrote, "I'm just along for the ride like the other Twisted Toads readers..."

Not really.

You outrank them. You are a major part of the Twisted Toads legacy. You were there from the inside out... You knew Cretin. You knew the dancer. You know Stitches. (I still talk to Stitches. His dad died last month.) You rode with me in the moonlight. You rode with me in the rain.

I remember more about you than some people ever learn about a person... But I didn't know you loved that Kawasaki H2. And now you are demanding I ride the BMW K75 into the ocean, to the same fate as my iPhone. And that's a much better bike than the H2.

What you remember is the story... Can you imagine how exciting it would be hear it from you?

Sincerely,
Jack

Anonymous said...

Dear Jack,
In case it wasn't a typo...the panties are "cheekies" and are a style of panties sold in Victoria's Secret stores. They do wonderful and amazing thing with the part of a woman's anatomy that they (just barely) cover. They are only "checked" by whoever is looking at them or if the woman's taste in art tends toward 1960's mod.

As for a photograph...
Don't have any that include the bike....yet.....

as for sharing any pics of that nature...
Those would have to be SOME cookies!

And just to yank your chain...
My "blast from the past" has long dark hair that tends to curl, is tall and lean with a strength that would surprise you, has a beauty that can leave you breathless, and a personality that has you checking her back for wings.

...and she LOVES riding on my bike!

1974

Jack Riepe said...

Dear 1974:

They are excellent cookies. Send the picture.

Fondest regards,
Jack

Anonymous said...

Dear Jack,
Did I forget to mention that in addition to all the other wonderful qualities I listed...she can cook! Inculding some of the most amazing cookies I have ever tasted!

1974

BeemerGirl said...

I swear that I was by your side while you swung your leg over the K75 in the silver tinged driveway. I swooned along the roadway with you and the dunes slowly encroaching on the road. I could see walking along the ridge of the dune with grass whispering in the lightest breeze coming over the water. If you weren't in such excruciating pain I would have gotten sand in my own pants and boots from rolling through the dunes laughing. Let's just pretend that you were a little into the cups instead of battling such a debilitating affliction. I'm sorry that Fireballs is finding succor ensconced in another's garage.

Best to you,
Steel Cupcake

Jack Riepe said...

Dear SnowQueen:

Nothing adds to the character and depth of a story like factual information. In many cases, I rely on information and data from eye-witnesses to create the realism my readers crave. I have 12 questions to ask you that do not translate well into this comments forum. You certainly couldn’t answer therm here as that would pull the teeth from the piece. Could you zap me a contact e-mail — at jack.riepe@gmail.com — or do I have to throw my laptop into the ocean too?

Questions are limited to your motorcycle perspectives in general, and to that H2 in particular. Should you decide to editorialize, however, that works too.

Fondest regards,
Jack

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Beremer Girl (Lori):

I was thrilled and delighted to get this note from you... Thrilled to hear you’re still cutting up rough, and delighted that you found my story so engaging. Riding in the moonlight can be absolutely etherial and I have had times where it felt like an acid trip. Thanks for reading my tripe — one more time — and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

Anonymous said...

Hey Slim:

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the exchanges between you and SnowQueen in the comments section of Twisted Roads.

“Ahhh, The USS Ling!” I can’t believe you took her to a fucking submarine on your first date. Well, it apparently worked.

Sergeant Cutter

Nikos said...

Can anyone else join in?

If this were a tennis match we would have had new balls at least three times.

N from here out East

irondad said...

A motorcycle is a metaphor for life.

Hmmm.....here I have been actually riding one all over.

All I really had to do was go up to a group of women and talk about my long wheel base and extended forks?

My helmet doesn't really have to have a strap?

Wow. My mind is staggered with possibilities.

irondad said...

P.S. I know I am going to end up hating myself for caring. However, this statement gave me a bit of cause for concern.

following the implosion of the relationship I thought would last a thousand years

Since your stories move from present to past with the ease of crap shooting from a goose, I'm never sure.

If this is a recent development, then I am, well, you know.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Sergeant Cutter:

I have no idea if SnowQueen reads these comments or not, but she would know you much better as my photographer friend, who took her picture in 1977, which she gave me as a Christmas present.


Thanks for reading TW and for leaving a comment.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Nikos:

Rare is the occasion where reader comments cause me to laugh out loud, but yours produced a raucous guffaw with the first reading. Nicely done.

Thanks for reading rthis blog and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep

Jack Riepe said...

Dear IronDad:

The linear thought process can be an advantage in many cases, but sometimes in pays to regard three dimensional objects as an abstract. I don't think anyone will deny tha a well-ridden motorcycle has more character than the family car, which tends to become more of a mobile appliance after awhile.

Regarding your postscript: After lasting longer than either of my two marriages, my relationship with Leslie has ended. As near as I can tell, she is delighted to be rid of me as one would be of a bad rash in a private place.

I'm sure there were a thousand things I could have done differently, and maybe not.

Thanks for reading Twisted Roads, and for writing in.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep