I believe in accommodating my readers whenever possible (except for the BMW “R” bike group in Minnesota who insisted I drink poison). This is the requested blog episode.
I apologize to my readers who were expecting humor. This is sophisticated science.
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The face on the clock condemned me with a sneer, and read 2:45 A.M. It was set to detonate in two hours and fifteen minutes, when the first light of day would soil the sky. My eyes felt like I rolled them in cat litter and there was a dull throbbing in the pit of my stomach. These were the symptoms of holistic motorcycle pre-ride planning.
I was supposed to lead a breakfast ride of close friends and associates through a hostile Amish settlement. (The Amish were pissed over a steel vent fan that mysteriously fell from the heavens, stampeding a herd of chickens.) Arrangements called for me to meet the usual suspects (Bregstein, Frechi, Clyde, Gerry, Ron Yee, and David Hardgrove) in the parking lot of a local Starbucks. These hooligans are punctual to the point of pain. If I was ever more than an hour late, they’ll ride to house and rev their BMWs in the driveway. (They’d make more noise rustling a newspaper, but to these guys the symbolic gesture is everything.)
I should have been ready to spring into the saddle. My preparations were straight out of the holistic rider’s manual. The day before — Friday afternoon — I stopped work four hours early to meditate in a sweat lodge. An authentic sweat lodge is a yurt-like structure made of animal hides stretched over a frame of willow rods and bone pinions. I got plans for one on the internet but Home Depot was out of bone fragments, so I just sat in my old Suburban and smoked a cigar as big as my ass.
The cigar was potent and filled the vehicle with a dense cloud of rich, robusto haze. A wasp had followed me in from the driveway and had just begun to realize its peril. It tried stinging its way through the windshield, but to no avail. The nicotine fog enveloped it like an evil spirit and the insidious little fucker’s head exploded with a micro-pop.
The appreciation of nature is a critical part of the cigar/sweat lodge experience.
It takes 40 minutes to enjoy a smoke as dense and as perfectly rolled as an Arturo Fuentes Anejo Shark, in Maduro. (Maduro is a country in which the days are long and hot; the rum drinks are fruity and cool; and the women are dusky and seductive. I go there every time I light one and close my eyes.) The dense smoke of a great cigar presents a joint-like Nirvana (or so I’ve read) in the close confines of the rolling sweat lodge. I smoked so many cigars in that old truck that the windscreen was tinted yellow.
When that cigar was smoked to the point where I needed a roach clip to hold it, I tossed the smoldering clincher into the neighbor’s flowers. (Her cat had been pissing in our garage for years.) Then I looked to the parked K75 for spot maintenance. This ritual began by sitting in a Kermit chair and looking over the bike while sipping something restorative. I recommend a “Planter’s Punch,” made with Myers Dark Rum. These are the squeezings of a whole lemon, a whole lime, a tablespoon of sugar or simple syrup, and an ounce and a half of Myers dark rum, in a tall glass, topped with orange juice and ice, plus a squirt of grenadine. If you are riding the next day, limit yourself to seven or eight of these.
I discovered a loose mirror and set about tightening it. These mirrors were an aftermarket afterthought that turned this 1995 K75 from a bowling shoe into a glass slipper. The mounting screws were .34512 of an inch. One little wrench was specially cast for this size, before all of the dies were broken and all of the toolmakers who designed it were executed. I couldn’t remember if I left the wrench in my coat pocket, in the tool box, or on a rail fence alongside a dirt road in West Virginia. So I fudged it. The mirror would come loose in mid-ride, after I tried adjusting it at 60 miles per hour. Bregsten would run it over.
The seal on the top case was also loose. This was due to a gasket that BMW sells separately. It appears to be three inches too short on initial installation, and eight inches too long thereafter. I used a brand of super glue to hold the stretched-out gasket in place, closing the lid to guarantee a tight fit. An hour later, I would discover the lid glued shut in places.
It was then time for dinner. The truly spiritual rider does not freight up on carbs, huge cuts of meat, nor piles of starches the night before a ride. Experts claim light supping on things like watercress salad, cheese crusts, and herbal tea is the best thing to propel a rider out the door for a traditional Amish breakfast. I parboiled three green beans, a shallot, and some grubs I found in the garden for my evening meal. I planned to eat while reading a popular self-help book titled, How Not To Annoy The Living Shit Out Of Women... A Practical Guide For Men, when the love of my life waltzed in with a friend.
My lover at the time was a doe-eyed beauty, with a voice as soft as rain water trickling through orchids. She had a smile that refreshed my tortured soul and a kiss like a powerful narcotic. Her friend was another hot-looker with a personality like champagne bubbles set loose in the atmosphere. For the sake of this story, we will call the friend “Melissa.” Melissa was a statuesque brunette with a smile that promised a hot foot or a prison riot, and anything in between.
Melissa grabbed my dinner and tossed it to a rabid raccoon outside. The ladies suggested headiing to a local Asian joint, to savor some mild sushi (along with a cocktail or two), before calling it an early night.
“I am compelled to tell you two ladies that I am leading a breakfast run of philosophers through a hostile Amish encampment a first light. I plan to be in bed by 9:30pm, getting a full 7 hours sleep before this ride,” I said. "I want to wake up fully rested, refreshed, and headache free, prior to pulling out of here with time to spare."
The beauty who was mine looked at me in that special way that women who have been with the same man for more than a decade use to say, “Wanna bet, asshole?”
“Sure you are,” nodded Melissa, with a look that suggested information to the contrary.
The Asian place was intimate, dignified, and accommodating.The sushi chef, whose name was Ichiban Makozowai, greeted us like old friends, which we had become. The manager, Izu Fong Chu, said to me, “Ha ha. Good to see you again, Mr. Jack. Your fren’ very funny. She no start food fight again tonight, huh?”
Melissa wanted adventurous sushi. She ordered cuttle fish babies served in remorse, shark eyeballs in aspic, pulsating octopus suckers, spicy tuna tongues, starfish balls in bonita flakes, politically astute shrimp brains, squid caps, and electrified eel dicks. She ordered hot dishes too. One was called “The Peacock and The Dragon.” According to the menu, it was a guinea hen that had been kicked in the balls and a komodo dragon that died of natural causes.
There was no bar in this place but it was BYOB. The ladies had two huge containers of mixed cocktails. By the time we had eaten the last deep sea urchin on earth, the waiters were practicing ritual seppuku in the kitchen (disemboweling themselves). So we went to the Irish bar down the street, where it was Mariachi Night. At closing time, Melissa was wearing a huge sombrero, and reenacting the final moments of Poncho Villa on a Dublin Street corner.
I staggered back to the house, leaving a trail of clothing from the front door to the sofa. At 15 feet, the sofa was closest to a first floor bathroom. I couldn’t find a blanket and wrapped myself in a sleeping dog. Chunks of half-digested sushi began to reassemble and reanimate themselves in my stomach. A fiddler crab fought with an octopus in a deadly struggle. A school of yellow tail went into session. I was close to death at 2:46am, about a minute after this story started. I knew I had seconds to make the bathroom.
There are times in a man’s life where he fully appreciates the principle behind seat belts. I wished the toilet had had them. Next to the commode was a nice little vanity with a candle on it. My lover back then was as practical as she was pretty. The candle was a small galvanized pail, filled with paraffin and citronella. It had three industrial-sized wicks in it. Next to it was my self-help book from the kitchen, which was opened to page 36. This said, “A man should always light a candle or ignite a block of thermite when taking a dump in a confined space smaller than a zeppelin hanger.”
Matches were thoughtfully provided.
My lover had replaced the exhaust fan in this bathroom with a ventilation system from a Latvian lithium mine. Sometimes it was not enough. One night, the vent fan blew through the roof of the house and disappeared.
I lit the first wick. The citronella struggled. I lit the second wick, and the scent of the citronella was barely noticeable. Then I lit the third and a nuclear blast of citronella filled the room. Twenty minutes later, I stood up, ready to totter out to the couch again. But I am a fireman’s kid, and I blew out the candle first.
Each wick generated a thick plume of smoke, which rose to the ceiling — setting off smoke detectors throughout the whole house. A woman’s voice, tinged with impatience and a sense of irony, drifted down the stairs. She said, “You finally took a dump so vicious that it set off the smoke alarms.”
Does anyone want a used copy of How Not To Annoy The Living Shit Out Of Women... A Practical Guide For Men? I don’t need it any more.
Who reads Twisted Roads?
Dick Bregstein (PA), Pete Buccheit (MD), and Clyde Jacobs (PA) are celebrating their annual West Virginia Bacchanalia Ride this week. This is where the guys occasionally hit speeds of 62.5 miles per hour, stay up until 8:30pm, and eat meals with all the salt they want. Sometimes they will smoke a cigar, but Clyde complains it is usually all gobbed up by the time it gets passed to him.
Yesterday they announced their riding was curtailed by humidity that went above 20 percent, which is Bregstein’s threshold. When I suggested that they watch something other than the weather channel and beauty queen reality shows, they sent me a picture of their team during morning calisthenics.
Paul Pollio (NJ) took a day trip from suburban New Jersey to Mount Washington (NH) for lunch yesterday. The rain slowed him to a more practical 86 miles per hour, Here is a picture of the rains in Hancock, NY yesterday, where Pollio pulled over to release a trout from his boot.
Above: The classic Indian Motorcycle that I almost got for a gift...
Henrietta Van Dratten (TN) sent along this picture of an Indian, which she bought me for a gift, and then took back. Technically speaking, this makes her an “Indian giver.” (I’m sure I will hear from 16 politically correct ethnic groups over that last comment.) I’ve known Henrietta Van Dratten for years, but under another name. This is all very strange.
Next blog in 24 hours...
Dispatches From The Front
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