Monday, February 1, 2010

Bottoms Up...

The day was hotter than hell that July weekend (35 years ago) and we were riding around on back roads, where Bergen County, NJ backs up against the New York State line. The bike was my 1975 Kawasaki H2, which was all balls and go. But it was unbelievably short on creature comfort with a distinct buzziness that rose and fell with the tach needle. The seat was a 3/4 inch sheet of foam over a plastic pan. From a distance, like in a satellite photograph, it looked it would be as soft as a sofa in a congressional office. And it was, for periods as long as 45 minutes. Then the heat of the asses on the black vinyl would change the molecular structure of the foam, converting it into slate. While extremely durable, slate is no longer used for motorcycle seats. For one thing, it acts like a lightning rod, conducting every imperfection in the road straight to all 4,823 nerve endings in the average ass. And for another, it reminds women with the most perfect of asses that they have to take a piss every 30 miles.

“I have to pee,” she yelled in my ear, over the sound of the bike, which made the same noise as a B-52, had that aircraft been powered by huge lawnmower engines.

I nodded in the exaggerated way that riders, like deep sea divers, use to convey basic understanding. I knew this woman well. She certainly did have to pee, but she also wanted a cigarette and cup of coffee too. Normally, I am agreeable to the coffee and donut philosophy of motorcycle riding. But she had already pissed so often that morning that I was getting the impression she was staking her territory. I saw a sign indicating a local park, and followed it, anticipating the kind of restroom with an aroma and general upkeep which discourages pretty girlfriends from going inside.

In truth, I’d grown accustomed to having her run into nearby cover and squatting for the 30 seconds it took to complete the ritual. I have never tired of watching a woman drop her jeans while wagging her butt in my direction. The place where I had pulled over was not really a park as you would expect, however. This patch of greenery was a new urban investment in an experiment to convert vacant lots (illegal dumping sites) into “Vest-Pocket Mini Parks.” There really were no facilities. Just a little road that ran through it, with bushes on one side, and a stream on the other. The stream had been dammed to create a little pond, upon which floated a big, majestic, malignant swan.

Now most people, especially dopes who live in cities, think swans are the ultimate expression of nature’s beauty. They see them as avian clipper ships gently moving across the surface of a lake, or as seamlessly smooth feathered sculptures waiting to inspire poets or artists. In reality, swans are dobermans with fucking beaks. They will not hesitate to hiss at, spit on, or savagely attack anything they deem an aggravation. And everything that is not some stupid old lady feeding them stale bread is an aggravation. Their wings are armed with bony joints that can break a child or a dog’s leg. In Europe, where they know about these things, swans are hunted with a regular season.

Two swans waiting to attack something... The ancients thought the black markings at the base of their bills were their souls. Photo from Wikipedia.

My girl hopped off the bike and disappeared into the brush, such as it was, to wag her backside at me. Speaking of birds, it is said that the ostrich will attempt concealment by sticking its head in a hole. The woman I was with that day felt concealed as long as she couldn’t see anyone looking at her. Her ass was clearly visible to me (no objections) and to the two cops having coffee in the cruiser parked under the three trees in this place. They apparently had no objections either. The only other player in the drama that was about to unfold was an old lady sitting on a park bench, who was entranced by the swan.

I dismounted and sat on a bench of my own, knowing that my denim princess would now be lighting up a Marlboro, possibly two.

“Did those cops see my ass,” she asked, plopping down on the bench.

“I believe they did, and since they didn’t shoot, it must have passed muster.”

The swan was striking all the poses these aquatic bird-shit generators have used to glom day-old bread from suckers for generations. But the little old lady wasn’t there to make a deposit, just to watch. It finally resorted to dabbling along the bottom of the lake with its forty-foot long neck. The bird would pull its head out of the water, gargle, then repeated the process, wagging its ass at us. This happened three or four times. But the last time, it flapped its wings while its ass was still in the air, and then the neck came up without the head — spurting blood from a white hose.

The old lady started to shriek and scream.

The cops flipped on their roof lights and were there in 10 seconds.

“What happened?” one yelled.

“What’s the matter?” the other cop asked, looking directly at me. My girlfriend and I pointed at the swan at the same time. The headless neck was still moving around, while the body continued to paddle for a bit, before coming to a stop.

In truth, my girlfriend and I were both subscribers to the Monty Python’s Flying Circus school of humor, and we thought this was the funniest thing we’d seen in forever. (I had to cover my mouth to keep from laughing out loud.) The cops were amazed too, to the point where I’m sure they found it hard to laugh as well. And I know this sounds horrible, but the shrieking of the old lady only made it funnier.

Common snapping turtle, about 22 feet in diameter. Snappers this big can weigh up to a ton. Note the fog line chewed away from the asphalt. This turtle went on to rip the tires off a bus, before being worked over with a flame thrower by a local SWAT team. Photo from Wikipedia

Shortly thereafter, a local paper reported that an $800 swan, purchased through a grant for a reconditioned park, had been killed (decapitated) by a huge snapping turtle that had moved into the pond. While the turtle had been trapped and removed (out of consideration for kids who may have ventured into this cholera-infested water), there were no plans to spend $800 bucks for another swan.

Whether you are a swan or a beautiful woman, it pays to cover your ass.

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2004

AKA The Lindbergh Baby (Mac Pac)

AKA Vindak8r (Motorcycle Views)

AKA The Chamberlain — PS (With A Shrug)


Nikos said...

For some perverse reason this story has gotten me thinking what the point of a She-pee(tm)is.

Conchscooter said...

I cannot see how I can avoid taking out extra insurance if you ever show up in Key West. That will be the day God manifests herself and drops a meteorite on Duval Street; or the day La Concha is found to have a fatal flaw as all seven stories tumble on the crowds below.
You are s shit magnet of biblical effect.

Toymaker said...

Having spent many years in a Kayak paddling all over New England I totally agree with your description
of swans. Actually your description was too kind. I would have loved to see the decapitation of one of those floating pit bulls.

redlegsrides said...

OK, you got me....I didn't see the witnessing of a real time swan decapitation coming.....

Quite an interesting way to explain the title of your post. That must have been some turtle!

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Nikos:

On a hot July day, I will drink a quart of water (after consuming my usual five cups of coffee). I will then turn the air conditioning down to 60 degrees (US). Only then will I don my riding gear. I will start to sweat like a moose in labor after taking two steps into the garage. I will be soaked in my own saline long before I get onto the bike.

I will then ride all day, perhaps consuming two additional quarts of liquid — without taking a piss. It amazes me how many women have a bladder the size of a walnut, apparently.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Conch:

As a writer who sees the whole world as grist for his mill, I make it my business to be in the right place at the right time. I suspect my visit to Key West, the Sodom and Gomorrah of the New World, will enable me to put into proper perspective the goings on of that Mayberry from hell. Has it occurred to you that I may merely be God's instrument to smite the nakedly unholy (in my own way) and the Godless Trotsky-ites?

Thank you for continuing to read my blog, for commenting, and for having made me your role model.

Fondest regards, etcetera
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Toymaker:

You are quite right in your assessment. It is a little known fact that more people are killed each year by swans than by sharks and grizzley bears combined. Yet the swan lobby in Washington effectively masks the carnage. Why? To make a buck.

Thank you for reading my blog, and for gracing it with your comment. Intelligent, constructive comments — like yours — are always welcome. Some folks just like to take cheap shots from the comfort of their little tropical paradises. But you and I know the truth, and it will set us free.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

None of us saw the decapitation of the swan as an eventuality. Yet it remains the clearest example of life in general. One moment, you're the prince of the pond, gracefully floating around demanding tribute. And in the next second, you're a headless carcass subject to ridicule in my blog.

There is a moral in this story for those (of the pink croc clique) who insist on speaking down to me as if I were a kink in the food chain. Indeed there is.

Thank you for writing in and commenting. I can always count on you to be awed by nature's splendor. I understand the average size of these common snapping turtles is about 14 pounds.

One early Saturday morning, I found one trying to cross all six lanes of the New Jersey Turnpike, where it traverses the swamps in Bergen County. I pulled over and attempted to kick it back in the right direction. The ungrateful son of a bitch went after my foot. I thought, "Have it your way. Get mashed by a truck."

Jack • reep • Toad

Michael Evans said...

Hmmm...I can't help but wonder if this story is really a metaphor in which the swan, much as you described, represents all things beautiful, romantic and divine. The design of many wedding dresses mimic the appearence of a swan. The snapping turtle represents a Russian mail-order bride. The distinct snapping sound is actually two sounds playing out simultaneously - the first is the unlatching of an empty dowry box, the second is the vice-like clamping of her hands on the prey's testicles.

But then I could be way off.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Mike Evans:

Freud once said, "Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar."

But sometimes, it's not. I was wondering who among my global audience would be the first to see through me. Then again, I shoul never have doubted you.

I will be so disappointed if you cannot make my first group ride of the year, on March 20, 2010.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Menu scanning, Ihor said...

And isn't it just sad that snapper soup is on many a menu in nearby states yet try ordering swan and you'll not be looked upon as reasonable. In fact the outrage directed at you will be severe; as if you suggested moving the occupants of a hospital nursery with a pitchfork. I too stop to assist terrapins crossing roads, did so some years ago not a quarter mile from home. Shoveled the fellow into a tennis court sized pond where it gets its fill of ducklings, goslings and offspring of other waterfowl. Fun to watch.
Next time we dine we should have snapper soup in tribute to the gator of the Mid-Atlantic; pass the sherry.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Ihor:

Your assignment, should you decide to accept it, is to fuind a restaurant that serves turtle soup, and to make the reservations. I have never had it. It has also crossed my mind to go to Germany, buy some Lederrhosen, and blast away at swans to my heart's content.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

sgsidekick said...

Now that was a surprise ending!! *lol* Reminds me of the little manmade lake in OK when we lived there. We'd go to watch the ducks and ducklings. One time we watched a long line of ducklings get whittled down from the back. The last 'ling was sucked under, and soon the next one disappeared. Heck of a way for the shrieking kids to learn about death. It was almost funny how fast parents were jerking kids back from the pond; almost as fast as the 'lings were disappearing!

You sure know how to turn a phrase, Jack.

Cantwell said...

Metaphors in this story:

Swan's neck, Jacks private parts.

Ginormous Snapping Turtle, Ex-wives.

The reason why Jack can ride for hours and hours without stopping to pee....foley catheter.
True story. That's why the cords on his new Gergbing heated vest don't bother him when the hang down near his legs.

Allen Madding said...

That explains a lot. Thanks for 'splainin'.


motonomad said...


That snapper bears a striking resemblance to my ex-wife, who was unsuccessful in her many attempts to bite my head off.

Thanks for the fun read.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear SgSidekick:

I am not an authority on the preditors that infest the waters of Oklahoma, but in Upstate New York (the real Upstate, north of Albany), the Great Sacandaga Lake ios known as a breeding ground for migratory duck. It is also home to record size Muskelunge, who think nothing of eating ducklings, and their parents. One of the favorite lures for catching such fish is a rubber field mouse or a rat.

I am surprised at the number of responses this story drew, from folks who have seen waterfowl take the final plunge, and from others like myelf, who understand the true nature of swans.

Thank you for reading my tripe, and for commenting.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Cantwell (Michael):

My numerous divorces have resulted in the loss of my lungs (which a lawyer removed with a broken bottle) and my balls (which another attorney took off after hacking through them for a half hour with a chainsaw).

The cable you see hanging down is steel rope which allows pole dancers the same joy experienced by kids on a tire swing.

This winter can't pass fast enough.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Allen Madding:

Cantwell couldn't explain himself out of a ladies' bathroom, in a run down Adirondack bar, where he was found sitting under the sink with a cheap video camera.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Jack Riepe said...

Dear MotoNomad (Pete Buchheit):

Did she look like that when you married her? If so, you will be removed from the pole dancer selection committee chair position before we take our next ride.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

motonomad said...


As you know better than most, none of them look like that when we marry them, because we only see them from the perspective of the one-eyed snake.


Jack Riepe said...

Dear MotoNomad (Peter):

You are quite right in this last remark. I have been the victim of professional snake charmers on several occasions. Once they remove the fangs, the testicles are quick to follow.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

irondad said...

I heard a story once of a guy passed out drunk in a park. Some other nameless wise guy pulled the drunk's pant zipper open then sprinkled bread crumbs in a trail leading inside.

Sure enough, a duck followed the bread crumbs. This was an enthusiastic duck who wanted the crumbs deep inside. While the duck was busily at work the drunk woke up to see some creature hanging out of his fly. It was a frenzy of fun, at least for the onlookers. Not so fun for either the drunk or the duck.

The drunk punched the duck a time or two, thereby earning the eternal nickname of "Duck Socker".

I don't believe your story, as much as I'd like to. You see, I don't believe a woman has ever been born who can complete the pee ritual in 30 seconds. Sorry.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear IronDad (Dan):

Yee of such little faith.

A local Amish boy went into town with his pet rooster. He decided he wanted two things: to drink and to watch a movie. New to this, he was afraid he would not be permitted to bring the bird nto the theatre... So he shoved it in his pants.

Havinh consumed a pint of Bourbon, he promptly feel asleep in the dark hall. Two young girls sat down next to him, one of whom witnessed the rooster's head emerge from the guy's open fly.

"Billie Jean," she said to the girl with her. "This guy's got his pecker out."

"Nothing you haven't seen before," replied her friend.

"Yeah, but this one is eating my popcorn."

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad