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
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)