Friday, January 27, 2012

Ducking the Valentine’s Day Bullet...

The Annual St. Valentine’s Day Turkey Shoot is about to commence, with millions of hapless men scrambling to buy tokens of their love for women. Nothing confounds the average American male more than the phrase “a truly, romantic, original gift.” One reason for this is the concept of “romance” differs so radically between men and women. To a man, true romance is watching the moon rise, while getting a trombone solo from a hot squeeze, in a pick-up truck, after beer and pizza at the local gin mill. This was what they dreamed about when they were 17-years-old, and generally the strongest selling point of their first wife. (That bubble burst about twenty seconds after the wedding cake was cut.)

The second reason is that the phrase “a truly romantic, original gift” seldom occurs in a sentence ending with “cheaper than a decent pair of motorcycle gloves.” The current economic downturn has placed many men in the unnatural position of having to weigh the joys of getting a trombone solo against the thrill of treating themselves to a new motorcycle helmet, a riding jacket, or even the more mundane self-gifting of an annual bike service.

What the staggering majority of gentle, beautiful, sensitive women really want for Valentine’s Day (or a birthday or an anniversary) is a token of affection that reflects forethought, consideration, and the enduring passion of the soul. (This rules out an engraved, chrome air filter-cover that fits your Harley.)They want something that transcends the mundane. Regrettably, you can squeeze any six guys and not get enough forethought, consideration, and enduring passion to fill a shot glass.

This is where Twisted Roads steps in.

Our panel of gift experts have been getting laid for years by feigning sincerity, by exchanging mysteriously soupy looks, and by presenting gifts that reek of originality. Each of our gift recommendations is the work of an artist, unique in its own regard, and designed to appeal to the soul of a woman. Purchasing one, or a combination of these gift recommendations, is virtually guaranteed to raise the stock of any guy looking to be regarded as “something special” in a world of romantic mediocrity.

How can a man put a price on romance? The answer is “easily.” Yet these Valentines Day gifts are priced to appeal to a man’s heart as well. Each has been selected for quality, availability, and emotional impact. And ordering these online will eliminate the mad scramble endured by so many other hopeless souls, locked in a desperate search for romantic originality during the final hours of February 14th.

The Ultimate Original Alternative
To The Sappy Store-Bought Card...
A Love Letter Written By A Professional Writer!

Nothing turns a woman’s heart into into Silly Putty like a love letter written by a man who understands passion. Yet nothing is harder for the average man to write. Well-intentioned men try to put their passion into words, but end up spewing tired metaphors for a woman’s eyes, thread-bare synonyms for love, and thinly-veiled references to boudoir embraces that sound suspiciously self-serving. And yet, the assembly-line quality of store-bought cards can be much worse.

Jack Riepe is a professional writer who has been melting the iron-clad hearts of the world’s toughest women for years. A man of average looks and less than average intellect, he plays his keyboard like Cupid’s violin. His first wife was a newspaper reporter, who used to slam him in the headlines. His second wife was a KGB poisoner and he is still alive. His third enduring love was a rodeo rider from Texas, who once asked, “How do you write this stuff?” She would later refer to his love letters as “the tail of the rattler.”)

Let Jack Riepe write a love letter for your special Valentine.

Each order (domestic US) will be accompanied by an interview (call or by internet) to get a few critical details required to generate a two-paragraph letter (ten to twelve full lines, or more). Orders from outside the US will be detailed solely by internet. Each letter will be printed in script, on quality paper and mailed in a reinforced envelope. Clients ordering these letters may present them in two ways:

A) As a letter they themselves wrote, bearing their signature.
B) As a letter they commissioned, complete with a certificate of authenticity. (How many guys would hire a writer to listen to them describe the manner in which they adore their wives or lovers, so they could have it stated in a really unique way? This is the height of originality.)

Each letter is guaranteed to be absolutely unique, one-of-a kind, and totally confidential. Letters are available from men to women, women to men, and same sex. (What the hell? Love is love.) Valentines come mild, spicy, or vague (for anonymous applications). No porn. No poetry either, sorry.

The cost of each Valentine/love letter is $18.00, plus $2 shipping and handling.

To order, send your name, address and telephone number to
Put “Valentines Day Love Letter Order -- Rush” in the subject line. Please include a good time to call. The interview process takes about 5 minutes. (No phone number automatically means you’ll get the interview questions via e-mail, which adds time.) You should assume it will take two full days to process each order. Unless a client is willing to accept text by internet (to print out themselves), the cut-off date for ordering one of these Valentine/Letters is February 10th, 2012. (The cost is the same, minus the S&H.)

Anyone ordering a copy of “Politically Correct Cigar Smoking For Social Terrorists” as a Valentine’s Day gift — either for themselves or others — is entitled to receive a Valentine/Love Letter included in the $30 price (plus $5 S&H). Follow the same ordering instructions as above, but place the phase “Book Order Valentine -- Rush” in the subject line.

The Ultimate Valentine’s Day Confection...
The Power of Chocolate And
The Taste That Drives Women Crazy!

Nothing is more closely associated with Valentine’s Day than those huge, red, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. Yet sometimes you are paying more for the box than the contents. There is a link between chocolate and passion dating back to the ancient Mayas, who regarded it as an aphrodisiac. But anyone relying on boxed chocolates to get the fires of the heart roaring should consider Big Jim’s “Riotously Delicious” Chocolate Chip Cookies as their first shot. There is so much of the rich passion stuff in the chocolate chips used in Big Jim’s cookies, it is rumored that the cocoa beans must be picked by eunuchs.

Big Jim stands about 6’7” and no cookie was big enough, nor rich enough to satisfy his tastes... So he crafted his own. Each of the five varieties (Chocolate Chip, Purely Pecan, Chocolate Chip and Pecan, Chocolate Chip & Peanut Butter Chip, and Chocolate Chip & Peanut Butter Chip & Pecan) is an irregularly shaped pleasure puck of cookie perfection. (A family of five* could live on one cookie for a week, but that would be torture with an open box in the house.) Technically speaking, one cookie is about as satisfying a full slice of pie. Professional motorcycle racers - like Chris Carr - have enjoyed Big Jim’s cookies in the pits for years. (They even made it into a YouTube clip at one track!)

All cookie varieties are $14.95 a dozen... (Minimum 2 dozen order west of the Mississippi or south of the Mason-Dixon line.) Anyone ordering one dozen will be immediately sorry they didn’t order two. No Valentine’s Day orders can be guaranteed after February 10, 2012. All cookie orders are filled on demand. (Did we mention these were unique gifts that smacked of originality? When was the last time you got a candy heart that was made to order?)
* The family “of five” cited in the text is a family of Meercats.

Click here for Big Jim’s “Riotously Delicious” Chocolate Chip Cookies.

One Of The Most Original Romantic Gifts Ever...
An Enduring Valentine In A Work of Art!

Sid Dickens’ Memory Blocks (tiles) are a highly collectable series of exquisite wall art that strike the perfect balance of color, expression, and emotion. Each tile not only captures the passion of the artist, but forever holds the passion of the moment, be it an anniversary, a holiday, a birthday, or St. Valentine’s Day. The subject of the tiles vary, spanning birds, flowers, elements of sculpture, Roman numerals and letters. Some are mesmerizing details from paintings, while others in the collection have the characteristics of a bas relief.

The detail and quality of these tiles is astounding, with the majority retaining an “Old World” theme in both the artwork and the coloring. The designs are offered briefly, only to have the masters broken, guaranteeing that a limited number of each piece will remain in circulation. Sid Dickens Memory Blocks are made from “environmentally friendly” materials, and priced around $80 for current designs. (This is less than what you would pay for roses.)

While they can be ordered online, the true beauty of these tiles must be experienced in person. For my readers in the southeastern part of Pennsylvania, the best place to find a broad selection of Sid Dickens Memory Blocks is at Perennial Interiors (formerly Perennial Pleasures of Exton, Pa), at the Paoli Design Center, 1604 East Lancaster Avenue, Paoli, Pa, 19301-1506. The resident expert, Martha Naylor, can steer you to the most current Sid Dickens acquisitions (which include four separate heart designs) or show you some of the older designs with immediate collector value. She can be reached at 484-318-8376. To find then online, click here.

And trust me, they way they gift wrap these things at Perennial Interiors even the unopened box is special.

Want To Celebrate Your Love In A Hundred Years...
Give The Floral Arrangement That Lasts Forever!

Do you have the kind of romance that will endure for the ages? Then plant a tree... In your kitchen, family room, or living room. Bonsai trees have been known to live more than 200 years, with some species providing full-sized blooms on miniature, twisted trunks, three generations after the original lovers moved into oblivion.

There are two ways to present a Bonsai tree for Valentine’s Day, and Waterloo Gardens of Chester County, Pa is an expert at both. The first is to buy a fully established Bansai well advanced in the process of becoming a miniature tree. These make delightful gifts, in little ornate pots, with gnarly roots covered with soft green moss. And they run from $75 to the sky is limit, based on the age of the tree. The second way is to meet with a Waterloo Gardens associate and plant your Bonsai tree — together. You and your Honey can get your hands dirty — in the clean way — introducing a tiny tree to pure romance.

Need a bigger splash than a tree? Waterloo Gardens has a great selection of orchids too. Or get a miniature garden constructed in an oversized brandy snifter.

Waterloo Gardens has one of the best gift shops, with incredible choices (from exquisite silver jewelry to cloisonne boxes). They have two stores, one in Exton, Pa, and one in Devon, Pa. The Exton shop is vast, at 200 North Whitford Road, Exton, Pa 19341. Reach the Exton store at 610-363-0800. Find them on-line by clicking here.

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2012

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dispatches From The Front...

There are letters from allegedly living Twisted Roads readers. The Twisted Roads editorial staff will entertain questions from serious bikers regarding advanced riding technique, mechanical issues, rider safety, relationship building, how to break up with a woman (while tapping her sister on the way out the door), how elected officials get such big heads through such tight assholes, and which comes first: the pothole or the $900 bill to replace the wheel?

We will attempt to effect resolution for some readers with substantial bribes of Big Jim’s Chocolate Chip cookies — at our discretion. Don’t even think of hinting that you should get a box, unless you look like the woman in the first letter and include a picture.

The Publisher...

Dear Twisted Roads:

I am getting married in a couple of weeks to a woman who I met on a motorcycle run last summer. We are both a little nervous as this is an “inter-racial” relationship. (She rides a Harley and I ride a Vespa.) First there is the question of the blood test. I asked her about it and got a bone-chilling look. Then she pulled a Buck knife out of her boot and sliced her own palm, asking, “Do I pass?”

I really didn’t know what to say, so I just nodded.

Do you know if during the wedding ceremony the minister still asks if there is anyone present who objects to this marriage “to speak up now or forever hold their peace?” I jokingly mentioned that my mother might object. My fiance just laughed and said, “Not if she’s tied to a tree with a dead rat in her mouth.”

It’s not that I’m getting cold feet, but we were meeting with the caterer to finalize a few reception arrangements, when the gentleman asked, “What sort of napkins would you like?”

My fiance tested 20 of them by blowing her nose in each one, finally choosing a roll of paper towels as “best.” When asked if she wanted our initials printed on them, she replied only “FU,” in the dead center of each one.

She is stunningly beautiful, with a seamless tan, a few hidden tattoos (from the Kama Sutra), and likes to walk around the house naked. She has the skill of a gourmet cook and occasionally serves paté that she has created from all natural ingredients, using her flat stomach as a platter. When it comes to matters of the bedroom, she does things that would embarrass a farm animal.

Yesterday, I was moving some of her stuff into the bedroom, when I came across a strange red metal box marked, “Snap-On Tools.” I immediately suspected some higher level of sexual perversion, so I called her on it.

She was topless as usual, but I noticed a slight blush of embarrassment coloring her perfect nipples.

She bit her lower lip in hesitation, then said, “Don’t open it.”

I did.

It was filled with the strangest tools I have ever seen, including a wrench like a dental pick, complete with a series of paper-thin shims.

“What are these?” I demanded.

She started to sob, and replied: “When I get really hot and sexually uncontrollable, I have a mad desire to service German motorcycles.”

I can’t believe she kept this hidden from me. If a woman will hide secrets like this in the bedroom, what else will she conceal? I think it would be wise to postpone the wedding at the very least. My riding club — The Really Hard Guys Scooter Squadron — tells me I’d be much better off finding a woman from my “own” Vespa-riding kind. What do you think?

Sylvester T. Simons, III
Accountant To The Pet Grooming Profession

Dear Sylvester T. Simons, III:

Your riding club is undoubtedly correct. A woman like this is thoroughly unpredictable, and could go off the deep end in the blink of an eye. Just imagine how mortified you’d be at the next national Vespa Week (in Sturgeon, South Dakota), if she started walking around topless among the pup tents and bingo games! Worse, she could start doing stuff like this now even as you try to do the decent thing and unceremoniously dump her.

I have never left a reader in the lurch and I’ll de damned if I’ll start today. I’ll marry her, giving you a chance to escape on your Vespa. I’ll do the best I can to distract her over the next six or eight months, allowing you to get as far away as you can at 36 miles per hour.

Don’t waste time, however. Bring her over here right now.

Fondest regards,
The Publisher

Dear Twisted Roads:

I have been a devoted reader of your blog for two years and go over each story several times, sometimes taking notes. You constantly reference a handful of guys as your riding buddies, and allude to a much larger cadre of moto-acquaintances as the Mac-Pac, a riding club with a preoccupation for BMW motorcycles that borders on sexual deviance.

Your description of these guys, for the exception of a Ducati jockey and an MV Agusta enthusiast, would lead your readers to believe they are all cool, accomplished riders, capable of getting a laugh from the guys and a smile from the ladies at the drop of a hat. Yet it has been my experience that a staggering majority of BMW riders are unbelievable douches, who leave 8 percent tips on the counter, sleep with a GPS under their pillows, and who wear full ATFGATFT (All The Fucking Gear All The Fucking Time) — even when taking a piss. (You have to really wonder about a guy who takes a leak wearing ballistic gloves.)

How do you explain the discrepancy between your perception of BMW riders and mine?

Mavis LeBustier
The Waitress At That Shithole Where You Guys Meet For Breakfast

Dear Mavis:

The mayor of a southern town hosting a gathering of BMW GS riders once said “These guys arrive with one undershirt and a $10 dollar bill. Then they stay a week, changing neither one.” That cannot be denied. I have seen several GS riders, en route to remote and desolate destinations on the far side of Canada, stop just long enough to chew the bark on young birch trees. They get this way from making BMW bike payments and from occasionally buying spare parts. These transactions can force a man to live on $3.80 a week, all that is left from a $4,000 weekly pay check.

Sleeping with the GPS under the pillow becomes a reflex action for many BMW riders on weekend runs where each day begins with the tradition of “2,000 miles before breakfast.”

Many BMW riders wear full protective gear when they piss because they are doing so at 90 miles per hour, while standing on the seat, with the most important tool on the bike in their hand. Naturally, they are wearing riding gloves. This practice, taught by most BMW clubs as a rite of initiation, can save up to 28 minutes a day. This is a significant economy of riding time as the average BMW Saturday afternoon run is the distance between Chicago and Tahiti. Things are more difficult for women, who must drop their pants. Many feel shy about this if they do not have a perfect tan on their butt, or a coiffed squirrel.

Now I do not mean to imply that the Mac-Pac does not have its share of douches. There are exactly six, and they always sit together at breakfast. Just look to see who is always sitting together to find them. You can confirm your sighting by asking them, “What is the best oil for my bike?”

The person who responds with, “The absolute best oil to use...,” is the head douche.

The Publisher

Dear Twisted Roads:

I have been a mental health professional serving the needs of the maniacally insane for over 25 years. Even a casual reading of remarks left on a previous blog episode, allegedly by “SnowQueen,” describing the publisher of this blog — Jack Riepe — as good looking, stimulating, and sensual, would lead anyone to believe there is a woman in basement someplace, wearing a ski mask while trying to start a chainsaw.

Now this may seem like a nice diversion for a few sentimental readers, but things are likely to change quickly when the door of the Twisted Roads office is sliced into sawdust by an infuriated “SnowQueen” looking for justice. And from what I can tell, she may certainly deserve it. Forcing a gentle beauty to ride pillion on what amounts to an outboard motor (1975 Kawasaki H2) with two tires is nothing less than the height of male hubris. In fact, seven southern states still have laws against this. Adding insult to injury was the fact this “bike” was painted in a shade of reddish purple that occurs only in bad science fiction.

In a more perfect world, real men would hold Riepe down while the SnowQueen diced him into lizard chum. The only thing saving Riepe’s life right now might be that most chainsaw killers neglect small engine maintenance in the winter. Chances are the plug needs replacing, the oil and gas have probably separated, and the chain itself is need of lubrication. Since this blog so frequently dwells in the land of the extinct two-stroke street bike, I think it is only fair that one or two articles on two-stroke engine maintenance appear, regardless of the danger to its author and publisher.

Dr. Albert Hissingaz
Wilmington Institute, Wilmington, NY

Dear Dr. Hissingaz:

If I had a dime for every woman who tried to kill me, I could afford to donate another book to the Wilmington Institute’s extensive research library, bringing its total up to 23. Woman have tried to shoot me... Poison me... And marry me to death. Things got so bad in one of my marriages that the dog would no longer take scraps from my side of the table. My neighbor would cover his ears and close his eyes every time I started the car. One wife even ripped my soul out and held it in her hand while crows pecked at it. (The soul of a moto-blog writer is often confused with a huge testicle.) And still, I have endured.

Though the SnowQueen has once again slipped into oblivion, I sent a box of Big Jim’s “Riotously Delicious” Chocolate Chip Cookies to her last known address. She’ll have to put the chainsaw down to eat even one... And with that first bite (the culinary personification of the battered baby seal look), I will be saved.

Thank you for your concern...
The Publisher

Dear Twisted Roads:

Moved by one of Jack Riepe’s weekly appeals to buy one of his current books (Politically Correct Cigar Smoking For Social Terrorists), I ordered a copy provided it was personally autographed and inscribed “with a highly motivational” text. I followed the complex ordering instructions and paid in South African Krugerrands as requested. While the book itself lived up to expectation (with stories curing baldness, removing crabgrass, and promoting marital harmony), the personal inscription was illegible. I hired an Egyptologist to transcribe the hieroglyphics scrawled on the front — to no avail.

This expert concluded that this was either data from the Dead Sea scrolls or a horoscope for the missing 2000 years from the Mayan calendar. On a bet, I had a Seeing Eye Dog sniff it. The animal gave it a good going over, then lifted its leg on chapters 6 through 10. Can I send a picture of this page to the Twisted Roads editorial staff for a translation? Otherwise, may I suggest Riepe train a chimp to autograph books? Then again, if he could train a chimp to autograph them, he could probably train a primate to get this blog out on time as well.

Colin C.
Fort Worth, Texas

Dear Colin C:

Your correspondence — and that of every Twisted Roads reader — is important to us, which is why we passed it on to the Director of Marketing, which is the code we use around here for “Legal.” The last time we saw the Director of Marketing, he was sniffing the seat of a motorcycle last ridden by a fashion model in a lingerie ad. You may not be aware of this, but Jack Riepe has a medical condition that causes him to brush his teeth with gin, and to drink bottles of Woolite® from brown paper bags. He autographs books from his work station, which is on the curb of a Cape May, NJ street corner. Please accept a box of Big Jim’s Riotiously Delicious Chocolate Chip cookies for your trouble. A box will be sent to you shortly. (All of Big Jim’s Riotiously Delicious Chocolate Chip cookies are sold by the box. Some boxes may appear to be half eaten, like the one you’re getting. Please be advised that this is an optical illusion. You did not get the open box that was on Riepe’s desk.)

Pauley “Fitz” Tooley
TW Marketing Director

The "Dispatches From The Front" section of Twisted Roads considers any and all legitimate letters from readers who are bikers. Please address your letters to ", placing the phrase "Dispatches From The Front" in the subject line. Selected letters will receive "promotional awareness" tokens at our discretion.

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012


For a special announcement from Jack Riepe regarding his new motorcycle book, click here.


When it comes to riding motorcycles, drinking in strange gin mills, or courting exotic pole dancers, it never hurts to err on the side of caution. But “caution” is an abstract unknown to the average 19-year-old and a characteristic that was deemed unmanly in the average Jersey City alpha dog of 1976. The circumstances of this story were such that I found myself drinking in a strange gin mill and chatting up a pole dancer, with my motorcycle parked at the curb outside — while throwing caution to the winds.

The Jersey City in which I was born and abandoned (no less than six times) was a loose confederation of neighborhoods that each started out as independent communities. Yet over the course of time, these were merged into a loose ethnic slurry that consisted of Irish, Italian, Polish, German, and Dutch territories, with their own main streets, churches, and factories. The most common element were square, attached houses with flat roofs (some with false gambrels in front), with a stoop to the sidewalk. The “stoop” was nothing more than a short flight of stairs upon which immigrant grandparents sat, waiting to die.

Baby Boomers born here in the ‘fifties had no idea their lives had begun on the threshold of hell. But the waterfront docks had fallen into the Hudson River by the mid-sixties; the spectacular Protestant money mansions of Old Bergen and Jersey Avenue had long-since begun to sag; and local factories had the vacant-eyed look of industry gone absent. If dog shit and broken glass could have been considered treasure, we’d have been pirate kings. The city had a Dickensian look to it by the time I was riding a motorcycle. However those of us spawned inside the bell jar thought it was Paris... And from our perspective, neighboring Union City was much worse.

Union City began at 5th Street (otherwise known as Secaucus Road) and Kennedy Boulevard. Crossing this line was like entering an alien nation. While I cannot say that the residents there had both eyes on the same side of their nose (like human flounder), there seemed a perceivable difference. And the very first community you’d wander into was known as the “Transfer Station,” a rabbit warren of diagonal streets that formed concentric triangles of hopelessness, lined with run-down bars, dubbed “clubs,” in the ‘forties. (The neighborhood initially served as the terminus and turnaround of several trolley car lines, hence the name.)

Yet in 1976, the Transfer Station was like a free trade zone for wayward pole dancers, who would flash their tits when the action got slow. My action was slow that week, owing to the fact that the love of my life had temporarily regained consciousness and invited me to take the gas pipe. My pals were nowhere to be found so I made my first mistake that night and cruised the “Transfer Station.”

“The Palm” was a joint with a semi-life-sized neon sign of that tropical foliage hanging above the door. And like most trees that lose their leaves or fronds, this one had shed every last inch of glowing glass tubing. A sign in the window advertised “Exotic Dancers,” featuring “Avancé,” which I believe is fake Italian for “Chrissy.” This bar had seen better days... Like the Roman Colosseum had seen better days. The upholstery of wobbly stools was patched with tape and the place reeked of cigarettes and a beer trough full of stale suds. Cheap track lighting cast a glare on a small stage that was anchored by a brass pole, smudged by fingermarks.

Like any Hudson County rider worth his salt, I scanned the gin mill for threats, and found only one knuckle-walker in the sparse crowd. This was a mutant who could easily touch his forehead with his lower lip. I took a seat as far away from him as possible, and made my second mistake: I put a $20 bill on the bar.

New Jersey has many idiosyncrasies. One of these regards appropriate behavior in a bar, specifically, putting down a tenner or twenty, and then drinking against that dwindling amount. My father, an expert in these matters, once said to me, “Don’t ever go into a bar and order a drink without laying your money down. The bartender will expect it, and no one else will touch it.”

I have had great nights in bars in Chicago, San Francisco, New Orleans, Paris, Berlin, and Dublin. Nowhere is this tradition observed like it is in New Jersey. Placing money on the bar even causes confusion in some places.

I ordered the first of several rum and Cokes, which were about two bucks each in those days. This left me with a ten-spot and four singles on the bar when the entertainment started. “Avancé” shimmied out and started climbing the pole like the floor was on on fire. She was a couple of years older than me and new to her arduous trade. There wasn’t an excess ounce on her lithe frame. She was blonde in the way that you knew the carpet would never match the drapes, and had gone a little too heavy on the eye makeup, but she was a talent far in excess of what this place typically presented. She was wearing a thong made of fishing line and two nipple pasties about the size of dimes. (The dime is one of the most understated of all US coins. It is exactly the right size.)

As was my custom of the day, I decided to marry her, move into a cottage by a lake, and have her children. The courtship started by holding up each of the four singles as soon as she finished a number. “Avancé” took each with a smile or a little giggle, and paused to chat with me. At buck number three, she asked my name. I interpreted this as a sign that we were going to leave together. “Do you want change for that ten dollar bill?” she asked, scarfing up single buck #4. And that was when I made mistake #3.

“Not if I’m just gonna give it all to you,” I replied.

I failed to realize this was her second set of the night, and that the neanderthal had squandered his total life’s worth of $8.50 on lining her “g” string. He concluded that the sudden onset of my patronage would have a dismal impact on his romantic chances later that evening, and decided to cut his losses and my throat.

“Hey Suck Nuts... Leave the dancer alone,” growled the mutant.

My response was mistake #4. I was halfway through the “Fu” part of “Fuck you,” when a fist the size of a canned ham got stuck in my right eye. It was dislodged by a roundhouse punch to the gut that ultimately resulted in my getting an unparalleled view of a floor that hadn’t been washed in 20 years.

I know that many of my Twisted Roads readers are fascinated by nature. One of the most remarkable creatures to be found in the great US west is the lowly armadillo, an animal of limited charm, but one of great discretion. When confronted by conflict, the armadillo simply rolls into a semi-armored ball. I can tell you right now that no armadillo has ever gotten into a bar fight. Rolling into a ball simply induces raging mutants to try their luck at soccer. This human muscle pounded me out into the street, knocked me down one more time, and threw the Kawasaki over on top of me.

For the first time in my life, I understood why most states have laws against the common man owning a flame-thrower. My head began to swell in three of four places, and would eventually assume the shape of a rhombohedron. My right eye was nearly closed, and there was a dent in the bike’s gas tank. It took me ten minutes to get the Kawasaki upright and on it. And yet, I couldn’t let things go. My friend “Cretin,” a real street brawler, would have beaten this guy close to death with anything at hand. And I wanted to come back for a rematch.

I still looked like shit three days later when I gave Cretin the details.

He laughed and said we’d talk later in the week. I met him for lunch in a Union City diner, where he insisted we sit at the counter, and ordered the Garden State specialty, the Cheeseburger Deluxe.

“What do you think of the waitress?” he asked.

She was a skinny thing with a half-inch of black roots showing in her blonde hair. She was cute in the ordinary way, and attempted to conceal a tired look by wearing too much make-up.

“Thanks, Avancé,” said Cretin, leaving a $5 tip.

The waitress shot us a bashful smile, and asked, “You guys see me dance?”

The name tag on her uniform read “Karen.”

Outside, Cretin said, “That’s what got the living shit beaten out of you. Want to give her ten bucks now? She’s the same woman.”

He went on to explain that the guy who beat me was named “Twitch,” and had a reputation for getting the edge through a sucker punch.

“I’d say he had your number,” said Cretin. “You’re enraged because you got the shit kicked out of you in front of a woman, who showed her ass to you and every other guy in a shit bar — for a buck. And you didn’t even get beaten that badly.”

“What would you call this?” I asked, pointed to my blackened right eye.


©Copyright Jack Riepe 2012

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

To read the current Twisted Roads humor story posted on Tuesday, January 17, 2012, (the first motorcycle ride with the SnowQueen) please click here.

A Message From The Publisher of Twisted Roads

Photo by Leslie Marsh Photography

The 2011 riding season ended late in the year for many, with ice and snow finally arriving with bone-numbing temperatures. Yet for others, notably the guys I ride with in southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, it has been one of the mildest winters on record. Temperatures are still hitting the ’50’s (F) here in Cape May and it is already the middle of January. Technically speaking, we are only ten weeks out from the first really warm days of 2012 and the time when motorcycles return to the roads like the swallows return to Capistrano, like the bluefish to the New Jersey shore, and like lawyers to a complicated divorce.

Once again, Twisted Roads is signing on for the long haul, providing a growing number of readers with stories that cross the double-yellow line for laughs and the kind reading that matches the pavement in your mind. New for this year will be our presence at a number of club events, coverage of rides (including various specialty marques), and reviews of moto-products, books, and films. This is all made possible through the vision and forethought of our sponsors — who fund this blog and my monthly column. Without their contribution, “Twisted Roads” and “Jack The Riepe” would have faded into oblivion long ago.

Chief among these has been Hermy’s BMW and Triumph, of Port Clinton, Pa. They are a great local BMW shop, and they sell great gear (online or on the phone) that can be worn on any marque. Next time you’re in there or have them on the phone, thank them for Twisted Roads.

And yet there are other sponsors, who are not represented by an ad nor a picture. These are the hundreds of “Twisted Roads” readers who have purchased my cigar book, tee shirts, and other products, funding the thousands of hours I have put into writing this stuff. When you buy a book from me, you are pumping your cash directly into the tales of a Kawasaki H2, a BMW K75, seven brunettes, two blonds, one redhead, four motorcycle crashes, and “The Cretin Chronicles.” My personal autograph, and unusual inscription, is my unique way of saying “Thank You,” for a great ride.

I am close to completing my motorcycle book, which goes beyond this blog in both content and style. It is a combination of philosophy, humor, rides I have never shared with the public, moto-romantic conflicts that haunt me still, and the kind of thoughts that nearly every rider has — but has hesitated to express. This book will be out in the spring, with a special edition offered for advance purchase, with discounting for clubs and anyone who bought a cigar book from Twisted Roads. To arrange a club-event book signing for my motorcycle book, please contact me at Please put “Moto-Book Event” in the subject line. To express your interest in reserving an advance copy of my motorcycle book, simply send your name, address, email address, and phone number to Please put “Moto-Book Advance Sale Request” in the subject line.

Twisted Roads Never Sells Reader Information To Any Other Source... And Screw Those That Do!

Once again, I look forward to another year of two-wheeled excitement.

Jack Riepe
Publisher/Twisted Roads

Tomorrow's Twisted Roads' Humor Piece:
"Getting Beaten Up In A Biker Bar..."

Monday, January 23rd's Twisted Roads episode:
"True Letters From Rabid Readers..."

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.

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 50º — 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


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.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Special Valentine's Day Offer From Jack Riepe...

(To view Monday's TW episode, click here.)

Attention Women Riders...

Tell Your Paramour/Rider/Lover Of Your Passion
— With A Personally Written Valentine —

By Jack Riepe

Free!* Free!* Free!*
(With The Purchase of His Widely Popular Cigar Book)

With less than a month away from the most romantic day of the year, this is your opportunity to make up for that really shitty gift you gave the most important person in your life for Christmas. Do you remember that lackluster look in his eyes when he opened that “As Seen On TV Tool” that doesn’t fit a damn thing on his bike; or the fleeting smile when he saw the designer tie that he has yet to wear on his job as a moose hunting guide; or the raised eyebrows when he received the Vegan Cookbook For Deer Camp?

Well this is you chance to make up for lost ground.

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plus $5 bucks shipping and handling

You can present the guy in your life with the most perfect collection of essays and mood-lifting stories ever to delight the male psyche...

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Is the book written specifically for men who think they know who they are, and for women who intend to tell them otherwise... This book is 30 chapters dedicated to the manly art of cigar smoking, and its impact on romance, nature, politics, social change, sex, deep interpersonal relationships, and escaping from the drudgery that puts the grind in daily life.

Readers who’ve bought this book claim:

1) Having fewer arguments with in-laws (former)*
2) Enjoying the kind of sex lives typically shared by mink on breeding farms*
3) A better understanding of what to expect from elected officials, divorce lawyers, and poisonous spiders*
4) Sharing relationship success in third and fourth marriages*
5) And getting the most out of social climbing with a cigar in hand*

* All claims are unsubstantiated by scientific data but circulated as fact at the Wilmington Institute of Holistic Dry Cleaning.

But Wait!!! There’s More!!!

Male Sensitivity Specialist, Humorist, and Moto-Author Jack Riepe will personally autograph and inscribe each book — numbered to the date of each sale...

“And draft a special, two-paragraph Valentine
to your book recipient!”

You read that right... Each sale (US only) will include a brief interview (or e-mail exchange) resulting in an original 2-paragraph Valentine, written especially for the recipient of your book.

Here's an exciting sample... (From a woman to a man):

Dear Billy Bob —

If there was only one day in the year in which I could express my passion for you, it would have to have a month-full of hours. And even then, time would stand still when the tips of my fingers caressed your arms, tracing the tattoos of the jails that couldn’t hold you, the names of fallen women that came before me, and the coat of arms of the motorcycle club that is sleeping it off on the living room floor right now.

None can tell how long love will last... Yet even if our passion extinguished one star each evening, I know it would be over too soon for me... And I hide that thought behind the gleam of the gold in your smile. Please accept this book as a token of what I really feel for you, along with (or in place of) this evening of physical bliss.

With all my love,

Valentines will vary in intensity with the available information... Each Valentine will come with a certificate of authenticity, as having been written by Jack Riepe, guaranteeing it is one of a kind. All Valentine’s will be printed in script, on high-quality paper (not recycled mummification bandages), and mailed with each book.

Every Valentine comes with a $1 Million Dollar Guarantee... If you don’t like it, send Jack Riepe $1,000,000.00 (USD) and he’ll rewrite it until you do.

To Order Your Special “Valentine’s Collectors Edition” of Politically Correct Cigar Smoking For Social Terrorists — accompanied by a one-of-a kind message of passion and romance, simply:

Email your full name, address, and phone number to:

a) Put: "Book Order" in the subject line.
b) Include the full name of the recipient (i.e. “Bill Jones”)
c) What is the relationship of the recipient to you? (i.e. husband, boyfriend, sperm donor, pleasant “ex”, same-sex partner, etc.)
d) Do they play golf... Ride a motorcycle (What kind?)... Hunts, fish... How do they endear themselves to you? Tell me something
e) Each book is shipped with an invoice and a stamped, pre-addressed payment envelope. Write a check, and slip it in the mailbox when the book arrives.

No data is kept or sold after books are shipped... Not like some vampire-run mailing houses.

Order soon... These take time to process! The last book will be shipped February 7, 2012.

Remember: Books autographed by the author are worth more in the event of his death, which has been predicted by a handful of women to occur any day now. Guarantee you have an "original" signed copy.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Throttle Or The Breast...

Two sensations to which I have never grown accustomed are holding a woman’s breast in my hand; and twisting the throttle of a well-tuned motorcycle. While each is about as different as two actions can be, both leave me breathless and utterly euphoric. The breast caress is generally accomplished in seclusion, amid whispers and an exchange of soft looks. The throttle twist is best savored when it puts you out in front of your riding buddies, or just ahead of the mundane thoughts that hold everyone else back.

I refuse to write a word of appreciation for the female breast. To me, it’s like expressing gratitude for oxygen. There are breasts, therefore poetry, sunsets, love letters, moon rises, candle-light, exotic beaches, rare liquors, and art all have a raison d’etre. (Breasts don’t have to be big, nor round, nor pointing upward to be perfect... Just connected to a sigh.) I am always amazed when a majority of men fail to understand that the fastest way to find a woman’s breast in their hand is to never let their eyes leave hers. And when the poetry is right, this sensation occurs again and again with the same woman — ad infinitum.

The motorcycle is a metaphor for life.

It is so easy to think of motorcycles as machines with the utility of painted ponies, with the loyalty of dogs, and with the killer instincts of leopards. Yet nowhere does the pulse of moto-metaphysics beat strongest than at the throttle. You may experience a buzz in the pegs... You might feel the imperfection of the road through the handlebars... And you may see your life pass before your eyes in the skid of the front wheel... But only through the throttle will you touch the soul of the machine, and feel it touch yours in return.

I touch the soul of my motorcycle every time I pull away from the curb, but there are some moments when it grabs me first.

The State of Delaware (US) is about the size of a large tablecloth, and yet it has some of the most beautiful and unique motorcycle runs in the country — albeit short. One of these is Delaware Route 9, running south from New Castle, through beautiful salt marshes and migratory bird refuges. The gateway to this stretch of heaven is the “Reedy Point Bridge” over the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. Built in 1968 by the US Army Corps. of Engineers, the bridge stands 138 feet tall and has two steep approach ramps that carry a two-lane roadway.

This is one of my favorite places to take the pulse of my motorcycle.

Coming south out of Delaware City, you first cross an archaic, steel-decked bascule bridge, providing a view up the curving ramp to the towering pile of rust that is the Reedy Point crossing. This is where I twist the throttle about three quarters of the way around. The steady hum in my right hand becomes an incessant buzz, as if I was holding a fist-full of bees. Shifting from third to fourth adds dimension to the buzz, as my 17-year-old BMW K75 digs into the ramp like a chain saw going through a crowd of zombies. I shift into fifth, the final gear, at the top, with the tach reading 6 grand.

The effect is amazing.

I feel as if I am being shot out of a howitzer.

The bike and I become one at the top of the Ferris wheel, fourteen stories above the water. For a few brief seconds, I can see three states... I am taller than the ships coming in from sea... I’m above a nuclear power plant on the horizon... I am as close to weightlessness as I will ever get... And then we swoop down into the salt marshes on the other side. I am astride a red Valkyrie, plummeting to the surface of the marsh. The road is barely an inch or two above the water under the best of circumstances, and the cattails tower over me as the bike levels out. The pavement on the barely-maintained bridge can best be described as “ Aspiring Third World,” and first-time riders on this route should expect some debris or flooding everyplace else, depending on the weather and the tide.

My bike is powered by a three-cylinder, 72-horsepower, liquid-cooled engine that sounds like a blender in a power dive. It is contained in a package that carefully replicates the sexy lines found in a bale of hay. And while it is as responsive as a whore aware of her advancing years, she still gets up to pole dance at five grand. (This mill routinely runs at an RPM that would turn the engine in my truck to paste.)

But you don’t need a bridge and a marsh to get the howitzer effect.

On another morning when the mist was glued to the edge of the pavement, I was accompanied by Dickie Burkenstock. and Michael Redcheek. (They are members of a soon-to-be renegade BMW riding club and have requested their last names be concealed... Not from the law but from their respective spouses.) We were headed for a fund-raising, lingerie breakfast and found an utterly deserted slab just begging for a little Houliganism.

The boys were in loose formation behind and I tapped the button for my flashers... Then I twisted the throttle around until I could feel the grip throb in my hand. The whine of the engine changed to a dare and I laughed in my helmet. The bike rode lower on the forks, but otherwise rose to the occasion. Dickie B. knew the drill and responded in kind. He was astride a much younger, bigger BMW “R” bike, that had huge opposing, horizontal jugs, and which had no trouble keeping up — though it would never pass me.

Michael R. came late to the realization that he was being abandoned. It wasn’t until Dickie B.’s tail light diminished to the substance of a rumor that he would put the spurs to his K75 too. Dick and I arrived at our destination, opened our helmets, and said... Nothing. There was nothing to say. We laughed quietly, knowing full well what the other guy was thinking. And then Michael pulled up, grinning like the village idiot.

“I have to get this GPS fixed,” he remarked. “It showed I was going 55 miles per hour over the 65 mile-per-hour limit.” Then he reset it.*

These are not the sort of things riders brag about, nor even admit in mixed company. Certainly not riders who are old enough to have kids in their twenties’ and thirties’. It’s enough that they just know what the soul of a motorcycle feels like set free... Or even just rubbed through the bars of the cage on the way to the Post Office or the hardware store.

I didn’t always know about breasts and throttles.

In fact, there was a time when I thought I was going to die as the direct result of a breast drought (age 19). It seemed as if every woman I looked at had joined a union, which circulated my picture attached to some kind of a warning. Then I met the first of four women who would forever change my life in the most incredible way. She was a Mediterranean beauty with olive skin and brown eyes, with waist-length hair as dark as my romantic prospects the day before I met her. Naturally, she thought I was an asshole... But that was before she got a look at the purple Kawasaki H2. (Once she saw the color of the bike, I think the word “douche” may have occurred to her too.)

Still, the day came when that bike carried us to the rim of the Hudson Valley, where we sipped a cool, herbal gin drink from a Thermos, and watched the sun dissolve into the mountains. It was there she learned that gin unbuttons blouses... And I learned that as exciting as a motorcycle’s throttle is, it doesn’t hold a candle to a woman’s breast.

*This erroneous GPS reading was scored on Route 182, the primary interstate highway in Samoa. Twisted Roads does not advocate irresponsible speeding on motorcycles.

Copyright Jack Riepe 2012

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Gesture Of The Stolen Motorcycle....

It is no longer acceptable to begin a motorcycle story with a line like, “I admired the purple-ish red paint of my bike, over the head of a perfect beer, poured by Vinnie, the bartender at the ‘Bucket of Guts’.” Current social consciousness precludes even hinting that there was ever a day on which a rider mixed the wind in his hair with the head on a beer, or that such a occurrence could ever happen again. Yet I would be lying to my gentle readers if I suggested that my late adolescence and early 20’s didn’t string dozens of those days together — without the dire consequences that are now so often predicted. It’s hard to say if I was “super cool” or just lucky.

The “Bucket of Guts” (not the bar’s real name) was located in “The Heights” section of Jersey City. While the designation “The Heights” had a certain elitist sound to it, very few of the eastern-facing streets had a commanding view of Manhattan. What was understood, however, was that “shit flowed downhill,” and that living in “The Heights” (and to a degree its subset the “Western Slope”) theoretically raised your head and shoulders above the rest of Jersey City’s effluential neighborhoods.

To my way of thinking, this bar was the pinnacle of local café society. It drew characters with names straight out of a Dickens classic, with all the peculiar physical traits common to the cast of a Fellini movie. Guys were “Possum, Critter, Duke, Fingers, Lefty, Froggy, Joey The Mouse, and Louie The Snake.” In addition to the tattooed men and women, there were the those with the Taras Bulba haircuts, body piercings of 10-penny nails, pet scorpions in matchboxes, street brawlers, and the “specialists” (who could accomplish anything with a little scratch). Into this society, I rode a purple-ish red 1975 Kawasaki H2 and routinely parked it at the curb. I will not deny that I parked at the far end of the line of bikes outside, so as not to upset the riders of the Harleys, the Nortons, and the Triumphs, who all regarded my machine as a cross between a moped and a urinal.

Though no one was ever handed a registration form to join this public house, membership was by tacit recommendation only. I had none of the skills, the unique attributes, nor the street-cred of these guys... But I came with the backing of “Cretin,” one of the most amazing Jersey City personalities who ever lived. He had the physical presence of a legend, the ability to dissolve like a shadow, the wisdom of a diplomat, the survival instincts of a virus, the classic education of a blue blood, the generosity of a Franciscan monk, and the ability to beat someone within an inch of their life.

I was waiting for Cretin as this story slowly unfolded, and I admired the purple-ish red paint of my bike, over the head of a perfect beer, poured by Vinnie, the bartender at the “Bucket of Guts.” There was only window in this bar, strategically placed so that no activity inside could be viewed from the street. But it was possible to see out if you moved a stool over to the glass, and I had yet to tire of looking at my new bike. So I sat on a stool, sipping a beer, taking in the limited view.

The Kawasaki H2 combined the worst of Japanese know-how, which was just getting warmed up in those days, with the vague lines of the typical Brit bike. The chrome was shiny in the beginning, but had a cheap “pressed” look to the mufflers, along with a rakish line to the seat, which made the pillion candy slide into the rider. And the “badge” on the gas tank was the kind of cheap decal found on outboards a decade earlier. It sounded like hell, but flew like a bat out of the same place, as long as you didn’t try anything fancy with it.

I loved it.

It was a dead summer day in the bar. The usual suspects were slow shuffling in and Cretin was nowhere to be seen. Two of the other bikers were surprisingly congenial and engaged me in conversation that would not be typically forthcoming. I switched from beer to something healthier, like gin, and enjoyed being one of these guys, howsoever unlikely that seemed. Late afternoon became early evening and my bike was joined at the curb by ten or twelve others, though “Cretin’s” Norton was not among them. You can get lost in a neighborhood bar and I found myself putting handfuls of quarters in the jukebox, savoring the bite of the gin in a Tom Collins, and getting urge to find something spicier in the jeans of some brunette, when Cretin arrived like one of the plagues from ancient Egypt.

“Reeeep!” he yelled, from the door. “That piece of Japanese shit finally break down on you?”

“It’ll kick the shit out of that Norton any day of the week.”

“I guess not today though,” said Cretin. “You got it in the shop?”

“It’s parked at the curb, you blind asshole.”

“Where?” he snapped.

The Kawasaki was gone. There were 15 other bikes there... But there was only a gap like a missing tooth where the H2 had been parked.

The blood drained from my head and I could feel the cold grip of reality grab my balls.

“Did you park it here or around the corner?” asked Cretin.

“I parked it right here.” My voice was beginning to climb an octave.

“Did you leave the keys in it?”

A fast search through my pockets and a mad dash back to bar revealed my keys were among the missing too.

“Well, we know how they got it. Now we have to get it back,” said Cretin.

My suggestion was to call the police. This comment drew sidelong glances up and down the bar, where the mention of the police was not usually associated with a solution. “He’s kiddin’,” said Cretin to the crowd. “Reep, we’ll find your bike.”

For once, I didn’t share his optimism. At the very least, I expected the bike to get stripped, dropped, or chopped, and I made the mistake of saying as much.

“Who would chop a Jap two-stroke street bike?”asked Cretin. “They have a parts value of eighty cents. The only person stupid enough to buy one was you. And you bought a purple one.”

A handful of guys reputed to know something about hot motorcycles fanned out from the bar. A few of the other guys, all specialists, also left while Cretin started working the pay phone on the wall. Vinnie the bartender started pouring me gin like it was water, and I started drinking it like I was a carp. An hour later, a guy named “Bennie the Glip” came into the bar and handed Cretin a slip of paper.

“Bennie The Glip” found your bike,” said Cretin. “We’ll wait until some muscle shows up and then we’ll go and get it. The muscle was three bikers the size of boxcars, with upper arms sporting life-size tattoos of Visigoths burning villages. Surprisingly, Cretin led us to an alley only two blocks away.

“Isn’t this Spider’s place,” asked one of the huge bikers.

“I never liked Spider,” said Cretin.

I knew Spider, and I liked him fine. I liked his girlfriend even better.

The alley ended in a garage, that had a dim, flickering light showing through the windows.

“Go get it, Reep.... We got your back,” said Cretin.

I wasn’t kidding when I said I wasn’t cut out for this sort of thing. The last fight I’d gotten into was when I was eleven years old, with the neighbor’s kid who was the same age. And that girl beat the shit out of me. Nevertheless, I went toward certain death like a snowball to the sunlamp. I pushed open a side door and looked inside. There was my bike in the center of the garage, surrounded by candles. On the seat was an exotic dancer from one of the seedy topless joints up by Union CIty’s Transfer Station. Her name was “Rani,” and we’d met through a lap dance a week earlier. She was topless then and she was topless now.

Laughter from the guys confirmed I’d been the victim of a hoax.

“Happy Birthday, Reep,” said Cretin.

Led Zeppelin seeped from a boombox and Rani started dancing on “slow simmer.” The guys closed the door on their way out.

I had seen Cretin deliver a gesture with one finger. This was a bit more elaborate.

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2012