I acquired my first motorcycle on impulse 38 years ago, and had taken none of the first steps that would be regarded as de rigueur today. These included getting the necessary paperwork for riding a motorcycle. I’d had the bike about two weeks before it even occurred to me to get the appropriate permit for a motorcycle operator’s license. It was not that I totally dismissed New Jersey’s authority on this level, but there was no requirement to have a motorcycle endorsement, nor a permit, by the insurance company nor the state at the moment I acquired the bike, filed the title and registered it. Consequently, I assumed it was a low priority.
Getting the permit seemed like a good idea, but the requirement at the time mandated me to ride only in the company of another, fully licensed rider, on an adjacent bike. I didn’t know any other riders then. Besides,what the hell is the value in having another rider close by on a different bike? Is he going to yell, "Hey stupid! You’re in a front wheel skid. Let go of the brake?” But I rode to the Division of Motor Vehicles office (on my bike, by myself) to secure the necessary permit. And with the investment of a few minutes and a few bucks, I had a piece of paper that sort of gave the impression that I was playing by the rules. At the time, the State of New Jersey assigned each motorcycle permit holder a riding test date at the time the permit was issued. My riding test date was December 18th, a day when 9 inches of snow was blowing across the range in drifts. The motorcycle Gods had apparently dismissed the necessity of getting an endorsement.
It was my thought to tell any inquisitive cop rash enough to pull me over that the other rider broke down and rode the wrecker back to the shop, leaving me to deliver the life-saving medicine to the orphanage. My response was “Fuck it. They’ll never take me alive.”
I was on Interstate-80, threading the tach needle through the pinker section of the dial, when I discovered the distinctive red and blue lights of a New Jersey State Trooper in my rear-view mirrors. Have you ever noticed that some police cars look absolutely sinister? Regardless of whether the issue is an out-of-date inspection sticker or a drive-by shooting, the cop can make it seem like he's chasing an accomplice of Osama Bin Laden. I glanced down at the speedo, and confirmed I was going fast enough to qualify for the death penalty in six southern states.
“I am so fucked,” I thought, as I began to throttle back the Kawasaki H2 onto the shoulder. There was no inspection sticker on the fork and the excuse I had devised for the permit seemed utterly feeble at that moment. (It was my understanding that New Jersey State Troopers could shoot you and dump the body in the nearest trench, if they felt like it. These were the days when the NJ State Trooper test entailed running through a room full of puppies while wearing army boots.)
My feet were barely on the ground when the voice of the cop, amplified by a portable sound system used to motivate political prisoners in Bolivia, demanded I remain on the bike, with my hands on the gas tank. Quite frankly, I had no notion of what the hell I was going to tell this guy, except I knew that no variation of the truth would do.
“License... Registration... And insurance card,” the officer demanded, without blinking. “Do you have any idea how fast you were going?”
This is a trick question asked by cops who are going to fry your ass regardless of the answer. However, there is no solace in knowing this. Nothing you can say is going to sway them from their purpose of issuing you a piece of paper that will cost you two or three hundred dollars, at the business end of gavel, swung by a judge whose face will give the impression of not having taken a satisfying dump in the last two weeks.
I simply looked at the cop blankly, and waited for trick question #2.
“What reason could you possible have for going that fast on a public highway?” asked the cop. I swear he was fingering his gun, either to pistol-whip me with it, or to fire a warning shot into my knee.
The cop was young, in his 20’s. There was a lot going on here. This was a case of state-fueled testosterone compelling him to address me like I was shit on his shoe versus the untamed stallion blood surging in my veins — which was percolating the statement “Kiss my ass and just give me the ticket,” right behind my teeth. Though it would be several years before I launched my career as a public relations specialist, the serpent inside me was thinking at the speed of light. I had to find some common ground on which to stand with this guy... Some sympathetic stance on which we could agree.
“My old girlfriend is home on a surprise visit from college and I haven’t been laid in four months,” is what I told the cop. And with my wallet open, I removed a small black and white photograph (actually a proof) of an 18-year-old female acquaintance, in a tasteful pose of full-frontal nudity at a time when pubic hair was still a novelty in Playboy.
The cop stared at the picture for a full 60 seconds. And then he blinked.
“Well you’re not going to get laid if you’re crushed under the wheels of a truck on this highway,” said the cop. “Slow down.” Then he let me go.
I pulled away, careful to stay in the boring realm of 55 to 60 miles per hour. It felt like the tires were glued to the pavement compared to the exhilarating pace I’d previously set. I thought about the picture. It was not my current girlfriend (of that moment), but of one I would chase for years. I have no idea why she gave it to me if I was never to taste the fruit. But here I was, a young guy, with long hair, racing to a destination alleged to be a assignation, on a screaming Jap motorcycle — with some cop wishing he was me.
I pulled into my real girlfriend’s driveway ten minutes later. She was 21-years-old at the time, and two years older than me. Her hair tumbled down her back like a waterfall of burnt sienna, against a complexion of warm honey. She was every inch as beautiful as the woman in the photograph and had a smile that molded itself into perfect kisses... Kisses with the sweetness of a summer peach... Kisses that occasionally covered me in a blaze of candle-light. She’d have cut my balls off in my sleep had she known I had that picture in my wallet. And she’d have been right to do so.
Naked images of discarded girlfriends are traded like baseball cards on the internet today. Yet this was in the day when everything had to be committed to film and captured by chemicals. I had taken photography in college and persuaded this beautiful woman (with the sienna hair) into posing once, wearing naught but perfume. I printed the photo myself. That picture is long gone... As is the one I carried in my wallet... And there is not a single picture of me on that Kawasaki motorcycle. So much of my younger life now exists only in my mind, and my mind so easily becomes the witness for the prosecution these days.
Why is it the night before Valentine’s Day that visions of beautiful, naked women of past romances torment me as freezing cold winds blow in from the Atlantic, making my sense of exile complete? I have written that the motorcycle is a metaphor for life, but it is also the perfect vehicle for romance. The pillion is the threshold of foreplay. I can hardly wait for my next bike and next spring, regardless of the season in which I encounter both.
Postscript: I had company this weekend, 50 percent of whom was a striking redhead — the paramour (since college) of one of my closest friends. He was here too, and will probably comment on this blog. She looked (down) at me through eyes that are a maelstrom of emotion, and presented me with a heart-shaped, chocolate ginger cake.
“This is for you,” she said. “I thought it especially appropriate as it seems to have collapsed in the center.”
It would appear I am a clay pigeon for every woman in the world now.
Jack Riepe will be the guest speaker at the New Jersey Shore BMW Riders monthly dinner on March 14th, 2012, at 6pm. Held at Schneider’s German-American Restaurant in Avon, NJ, the subject of Riepe’s presentation will be “How Abstinence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder... For So Many Things.” The guest speaker has promised not to savage BMW “R” bikes in his presentation, nor to imply their riders are aptly depicted in prehistoric cave paintings.
Riepe’s dietary limitations of pickled herring, wiener schnitzel and spaetzle are presenting less of a challenge to program chairman Don Eilenberger than his request for a blond waitress, in traditional Bavarian dress, with even more traditional Bavarian hooters. It is thought Eilenberger himself will wait table in drag. Rumors that Riepe will be transferring his membership to the NJSBMWR from the Mac-Pac are rampant. Sources claim the delicate feelings of the guest speaker can no longer sustain commentary beginning with “that fat son of a bitch on that poor K75,” which is the way he is commonly greeted in Pennsylvania.
©Copyright Jack Riepe/Twisted Roads 2012
Monday, February 13, 2012
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Another great read Jack, when I was stopped for speeding on the bike and ask why I was going so fast...my answer..."cause I didn't see you" didn't seem to satisfy the cop. Will try your one next time.
I used a similar excuse, once. Got away with it, too. Except I had a real girl on the bike and she flashed a little something and something.
"officer, when she's finally agreed to give me those and more, how could I not be speeding?"
Jack, good story but I like Irondad's method better.....it's good that your current girlfriend of the time didn't find that picture in your wallet....the world would have been deprived of your writing....
Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner
There was a time several decades ago when I was successsful in talking my way out of 9 tickets in less than 6 months. Then I lost the touch and was forced to slow down.
Ahhh, the good ole days...
I am fond of the phrase "don't piss off your dispatcher." The last time I got pulled over it was by my watch commander who subjected me to a thirty minute harangue on how I was too valuable to the shift to be smeared down the road on my motorcycle. I felt that a ticket might have been less painful.
The sun was already down and we were flying down Seven Lakes Parkway on the Kawasaki. You had planned a romantic night camping out but our supplies were limited to what we could take on the bike.
As we crested a hill and began our downward plunge ( at a fairly good clip) you cut the headlight. We were smothered in blackness. I couldn't see my hand in front of my face. And you never slowed down... we continued in pitch blackness at the same insane speed.
I was terrified and thrilled at the same time. As we reached the next hilltop, you flipped the headlight back on( after all you weren't completely insane) and we turned into a parking lot where we left the bike.
You carried all the gear and led the way. Just before we reached the site where we would make camp, the forest opened up onto a beautiful lake lit by starlight.
As you went about setting up camp, you settled me into a sleeping bag situated close to a hastily made campfire. A miniature campstove was already perking some coffee. Wrapped in a dish towel were two cordial glasses that you filled with kahlua and topped with heavy cream. You showed me how to sip from the side, so the kahlua and
cream mixed. You said they were called "angels kisses".
It was a wonderfully romantic night. Only one of many.
Two nights later you went on a guys night out. I found you face down in the garden the next morning. Apparently you had tripped over the low border fencing along the sidewalk and passed out in the position I found you in the next day. I think the neighbors thought I had locked you out. You had a smile on your face.
Anyway it was never dull!
Happy Valentine's Day
Try some pinklewurst when you are there!!! Great story as usual Jack, Happy VD Day BTW!
Welcome back Snowqueen!
Interesting post. I'll have to see if I can come up with a photo like that in case I get stopped for excessive speed on my bike again.
Funny incedent after my last ticket (it was also my first on a bike) ...the bike was low on gas so took the car in to work the next day. As I came to the same area where I got pulled over the day before it just so happened that traffic at a light had me sitting next to the same cop in the next lane!
He looked over and rolled his window down and asked what happened to the bike. I told him my wife grounded me! He replied with a heartfelt "Oh man....I'm sorry!"
Luckily the light changed just then and I was able to pull away before he saw me laughing my ass off!
As for the rest of your post...very deep and heartfelt. Don't know you at all except through this site so can't speculate or judge. but...what the heck do you DO to all these women???????
Seems like there is one heck of a story behind that first one that seems to have affected all others after. I know how that can be. Lately I've been blessed to have reconnected in an EXTREMELY good way with a woman from my past that seems to have affected me more than I thought at the time.
Sometimes, if the powers that be are willing, things can work out. I consider myself very blessed, even if I have NO idea how that could happen to ME!
that it is always a treat to visit Riepe, usually a memorable, not to be missed event. It is an ordeal in only the most minor aspects not worth mentioning. I think I might have left one of the cakes behind when we were gathering stuff to leave. Enjoy!
Dear SnowQueen (Princess):
You know how I get... I awoke this morning with a heart like a mausoleum to cold embraces and long dead kisses.
Then I read your comment.
It arrived like the first swallow to return to Capistrano, and read like an invitation to be 19-years-old all over again. It was the winning lottery ticket of my Valentine's Day.
I hope something I wrote in the current blog had the same effect on you. (Getting lost in the cascade of your hair is forever in my mind.)
Quite frankly, I had despaired of hearing from you again. (I am listening to Ray Charles as I write this, and can see your face in all of its soft expression.)
I really need your perspective on a rather critical work of mine (that is nearing completion). Name your terms: firstname.lastname@example.org
My late friend Cretin was once pulled over by a cop who made it clear that he didn't like bikers in general and bums like Cretin in particular. When the cop said, "What's your hurry, asshole?"
Cretin responded, "I don't like to keep your wife waiting."
The cop slammed him right in the mouth.
Thanks for reading my tripe, and for writing in.
Dear IronDad (Dan):
My brother, a former Harley rider, often had women on the pillion who rode with their hooter covers out of alignment.
I generally had to wait until I got to where I was going to get that kind of excitement.
Now was this occasion which you reference on the Yamaha? Or was this during a misspent chapter of your youth?
Thanks for reading Twisted Roads, and for writing in.
Dear Charlie (Dom):
The current girlfriend of that day was none other than the SnowQueen, who has commented in this very blog. And she could get pissed. On one occasion, when I was being difficult, she brained me with a bucket of chow mein on a major thoroughfare.
Thanks for reading my stuff and for writing in.
After a while, one realizes that it is easier to stay out of trouble than to get out of trouble. And while talking one's way out of the noose is good entertainment value, everybody's luck runs out sooner or later.
Thanks for reading and for writing it.
Dear First Anonymous:
So you would rather have taken a ticket rather than get yelled out by your watch commander? Do I understand correctly that you are or were a motorcycle cop?
Is your bike at work a Harley, a Honda, or a BMW?
Thanks for reading and for writing in.
Dear Third Anonymous:
I read your comment with interest, thinking, "Fucking pinklewurst?" Then I realized you are referring to my guest speaking appearance with the New Jersey Shore BMW Riders, on March 14th.
That is going to be a fun presentation, and the subject of my column in the next BMW MOA magazine (that follows).
Thanks for reading my stuff and for writing in.
SnowQueen has probably logged 60,000 or 70,000 miles on the pillion of my old Kawasaki. She could easily be the source of a ton of great Riepe stories.
Thanks for reading and for writing in.
This weekend would have dismal without the company of you and Helen... Helen's comment regarding the veracity of my blog will the subject of a future story.
Thanks for leaving me the heart-shaped chocolate ginger cake. I dunked in in Bourbon.
I missed you guys 30 seconds after you were gone.
Jack....so, nearly getting brained by some chow mein. One of the first BMWMOA articles I read from you was about your using a topcase and carrying chinese food therein....same lady that was in the photo?
Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner
I have a third literary project underway the same time I am working on the motorcycle book. The title is, "Midlife Crisis: Let The Games Begin..."
There is a story in there that starts with the line, "I am hell on women and disk brakes, as both are worn and burned after 15,000 miles."
I have never hooked up with any other kind of women other than beautiful, kind, sweet, talented honeys, who were firecrackers in bed.
All of these women initially thought I could be converted into something useful. I always prove them wrong.
The last one put a lot of time into getting rid of my temper and Jersey City reflex action of saying, "Eat shit and die," instead of "good morning."
I'm known as a "difficult customer."
I want to do a "he said/she said" approach to a blog story, and to a chapter in my book. The subject would be on a ride we took together. Don't break my balls over this.
I will wear a bag over my head and contact you only via e-mail. Are you in the witness protection program or something?
Dear Charlie6 (Dom):
That photo was taken in the garage of my last (former) paramour – Leslie/Stiffie. The lady in the photo is Kim, the wife of Leslie's oldest son Jordan. Asian and stunningly beautiful, I thought Kim would be a nice addition to the text.
SnowQueen is Italian, had waist-length black hair, flawless skin with a Mediterranean tint, and the kind of ass that led sailors to mutiny and spend the rest of their lives on Tahiti.
ya know...I find it difficult to understand how you can describe yourself as "a difficult customer" with examples of behavior that evoked that tag...and at the same time hear Snow Queen describe time spent with you as "...a wonderfully romantic night. Only one of many."
I guess you are a man of many contradictions...maybe something of an oxymoron....or maybe just a moron.
Whichever...your experiences and writing talent make me look forward to each new posting here.
I have a temper like a hand grenade — minus the pin — and say "fuck" like school teachers from the 1930's say"Golly."
Leslie did the best she could with it, but nothing will turn me into a raging crazy person like unexplained difficulty with a computer. I'd get so pissed I'd end up scaring the dogs.
That is happening less and less, but once is too often in a pass/fail environment.
Another great read. I spent my high school days talking my way out of tickets on four wheels. I had the opportunity 15 years ago to extricate a dead body out of a car that had crashed on one of the twisty two lanes we used to race on. It kinda sinks in when you look back at it. We were pretty fortunate to grow old.
Here is hoping this year treats you better than 2011 did.
I understand about the temper. Used to have a pretty bad one myself. Some things will still irritate me but now I try and look at things from the eyes of a comedian.
If you study most comedy acts you will find the biggest part of their acts are about people doing stupid stuff. So now, instead of getting upset with idiots I try and think of them as punch lines.
That said, I still get..ummm...rather cross with some service providers I have to deal with, but usually on purpose. Sometimes it takes a firm hand to get some of these people to just DO THEIR JOBS! But after ripping some guy a new asshole, I usually mute my phone and laugh my ass off!
As for getting upset over a computer... that is REALY a punch line. I'm enough of a PC geek to know the old addage GIGO. Garbage in, garbage out. In other words, it's always the HUMAN'S fault! Of course, some people get most upset with themselves.
Deep breaths Jack...deep breaths!
The comedian approach wouldn't work for me... I can't tell a funny story.
I was at family thing last week, and overheard a distant cousin mention bikes. He was a City of Buffalo Motor Officer for a bunch of years. "So I had this bike, bright purple," I turned a bit to hear better, "1975 Kawasaki two-stroke", I turned around fully, "H2." Funny old world.
The 1995 Kawasaki H2 came in the strangest colors you could imagine. It was like the proving ground for a "Skittles" color chart. And all of them had a really-date looking (even then)decal on the gas tank. The decal changed slightly from one year to the next, but looked really shitty against the new Hondas, which had a chrome badge on the gas tank.
It was the last hurrah for that two-stroke engine. Still, the tone of your note suggests you're saying, "Wow! Riepe wasn't lying."
Nice to hear from you.
Jack, your encounters with the law are enviable. You have near misses, and lenient officers, and happy endings. All I can say is that I wish I had your history ;-)
Another great read Jack! I've been breaking in a 2011 Ural Gobi Gear Up .... so the whole concept of speeding is somewhat novel at the moment. Enjoyed the Feb BMW-ON piece as well. Take care and don't spare the pen. Take care, Doc Rogers
I couldn't imagine you getting pissed and scaring dogs , then I remembered that you are writing in American and I'm half austere Greek.
Funny old world isn't it.
Yours souvlakied as ever, N
In the land of cheddar and poking the gear shift with the left hand, "pissed" means getting drunk. Here in the US of A (where the phrase "corporate America" means "shove it up your ass and keep walking..."), the expression "pissed" connotes losing ones temper.
I used to lose my temper faster than Greece could miss an interest payment. It has cost me three really good women. Oh well... There is no point in crying over spilled milk when the cows have run out the barn door.
Thanks for reading Twisted Roads, and for leaving a comment.
Dear Doc Rogers:
Breaking in a new Ural, eh? I'd say you have your work cit out for you. How is the break-in process coming along?
Glad you liked my Feb. column in the MOA publication too. As you are aware, all of my magazine stories are written from the pieces of life.
Thanks for reading and for writing in.
Dear Classic Velocity Blog:
Hey, Wayne! The only stories I publish are the ones where I don't fall off the bike, get beat up by women, or pushed around by guys smaller than me... But it all happened often enough... Trust me.
Thanks for reading Twisted Roads, and for writing in.
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