When you boil it all down, I believe that life is about decisions and relationships. I don’t know of anything that has more influence on the direction we take or our destiny, if you will. Sometimes the relationships don’t survive the decisions we make. I’m not trying to go pshycological on you here as much as I’m trying to help you understand just how much luck I have consumed in my most important relationship over the years. It is no wonder that I can’t hit the “Big One” in the lottery. Could be because I rarely buy tickets, but I don’t think so. Even though our meeting in Jr. High School set the stage for our future, the relationship that my sweet wife and I share, which began officially in 1967, has survived everything we have come up against…..So Far. It narrowly, I’m sure, survived my first five motorcycles, which came along inside the first two years of our otherwise harmoneous joint venture.
And now, to quote the late, great Paul Harvey, “the rreest of the story”. If you read my first post, you learned that my passion for two-wheeled motorized conveyances was kindled early in my life. Even though my half-brother, four years my senior, was able to get a bike, I was not. That just made me more determined that one day I would have my own motorcycle. Early on, SWMBO(She Who Must Be Obeyed) let me know in no uncertain terms that there would be NO motorcycles in our family. To which I dutifully replied…..Yes Dear, and nothing else was said about it.
After exiting US Air Force Tech School in sunny Biloxi, MS, I received orders to my first duty station. Neah Bay, Washington. If you take a magnifying glass and search a map of the lower 48, as I did, you will find Neah Bay on the most Northwestern point in the United States. Neah Bay, I discovered resides in the confines of the Makah Indian Reservation. Shortly after our arrival at Neah Bay, I began to suffer from NMS(No Motorcycle Syndrome) which is a slightly more dibilitating form pf PMS(Parked Motorcycle Syndrome). My wife thought it was simply a reaction to having nothing to do but watch the Makah Chief and his Council get a Snoot-full at the base NCO Club, which I did on a regular basis since I had taken an off-duty job as a bartender in order to put away some money to cure my advancing illness. No….I did not mention to SWMBO what my intentions were. I think she thought I was saving for some furniture,of which we had none. After I had saved what I considered to be a sufficient amount of money, a buddy, who coincidentally had a bike, and I set out for Port Angeles, the nearest semblance of civilization. Now, Port Angeles was only about 100 miles away, but it felt more like a thousand as we rode two-up on a CB160 Honda. I had always wanted a Harley Hummer(125cc 2-stroke) because it was styled so similarly to the larger Harleys, which was pretty much the top dog in my youth. Well, of course, the P.A. Harley shop didn’t have one of those, but they did have a 1967 Sprint. A 250cc street version made by Aermacchi of Italy, which Harley Davidson owned. A Harley Sprint? Close enough, I thought. It was the most beautiful bike I had ever laid eyes on. Mostly because it was about to be mine!! So my buddy Joe and I headed out for Neah Bay on my first road trip. We had to make a stop at Sekieu, a small village on the way, at Ray’s Cafe so I could show off my new ride and have some of the best banana creme pie on the planet. Since it was the only cafe for miles around, Ray’s cafe had become a regular haunt for us, and it was a little Mom and Pop place that was run by two of the sweetest old folks that you would ever want to meet and we grew to know them as…..Mom and Pop.
But wait….there’s more! I still had to take my shiney new bike home. I was pretty sure what the reaction was going to be, since I had said nothing to My Sweetness about buying a motorcycle. Why bother, I reasoned, because I knew she would say no. What I didn’t know was, if things went badly, whether she would have me buried on the Reservation or ship my mangled body back to Arkansas. You can only push a good woman so far, you know. So Joe and I rolled up to the house(a converted boat shack on the reservation), and I beeped the horn…..and waited. A face appeared at the kitchen window. An eternity later, the front door opened and my wife stepped outside. The look on her face was kind of interesting….frightening, actually. It was a mixture of disbelief, confusion, anger and some other things I had never seen before. My “Buddy” Joe, not wanting to be a recipiant of whatever was coming next,said ” I gotta go” and sped off toward the base. What a pal…. They have earthquakes out on the “Left” coast from time to time, and I swear I felt a slight tremor but I don’t thnk it was caused by a ground fault. For the longest time, she didn’t say anything, then she said….”well…you can keep it, but you won’t get me on it”. To which I replied, “Yes Dear”.
You would think that someone in my situation would do his best to smooth things over and make up for your transgressions. Not me! I wasn’t that smart or mature yet. I went riding! Almost every day for the next couple of weeks. Then, as I remember it, My sweet wife asked me, “can two ride on that thing”? Her tone wasn’t exactly happy, but mor resigned to the fact that I was going to have a motorcycle for awhile. I replied, “Yes Dear”, and hustled off to the Harley shop to buy some bolt-on passenger footpegs. Oddly enough, my wife’s version of this whole episode does not agree entirely with mine. But, as the country singer said, “That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it”. Amazingly enough, after almost 30 motorcycles and 45 years, we are still hangin’ in there. On a serious note, over all these years I don’t believe that she has ever grown to like motorcycles, but she understands and respects my passion and has endured them all these years. I am truly blessed.