Bent Words

Bent Words

October 07, 2009

As soon as you own a motorcycle, you start to not only notice and check the weather but you also remember the weather. You can look back and clearly recall two unseasonably warm days in the end of January 2003 because that's when you had the chance to take your bike out after weeks of pushing snow about your driveway. You know which day in October you had to put your bike away and you will never forget the 76 degree day that occurred just a week later...
And that was seven years ago.

On October 23, 2000 I took Chris's Ducati Monster 900 to the DMV to get my motorcycle license. I had been riding since before I had a license for my car, had already owned two motorcycles and I had let my temps expire three times -- it was about time to get my M rating. But that was a damned cold day. Not only were the fall-colored leaves littering the streets, decaying into slippery, slimy foliage, but it was also raining.

The instructor blinked at me for several moments when I admitted to having expired temps. We just sort of stared at each other, rather expectantly if I recall correctly (and I do), but I didn't believe that this was the time for a normal bit of Over-Explanation Laura so I just stood there. Silently. Waiting.
And then the instructor sighed. "Let's go."

At the first stop sign he scolded me for only putting one leg down while stopped. I thought it was an excellent display of balance and control, personally, and so I looked back at him, thinking he was joking, and as a result nearly tipped over. Minus one.

Then came the U-Turn on a small side street.
The instructor pulled over behind me, asked me to ride down the street a bit and slowly make a U-Turn without putting my feet down. Now, anyone who knows anything about motorcycles knows that a Ducati has THE worst turning radius of all two-wheeled vehicles. Save for the Multistrada, I cannot recall having ridden a Ducati without this relatively criminal ailment. Alas, I had to do the stupid U-Turn and, of course, I was shaking like a slimy leaf the entire time -- I attribute this mostly to the freezing cold rain which infiltrated my crappy leather gloves -- but I never put my feet down. I was docked a point however for having a "slight lack of control." Minus two.

I let it slide, the "Mmmmm, okay" from my instructor's lips but all the while, for the rest of the test, I could not help but repeat,
"Let's see you whip a shitty on this bike, buddy."

So I got my license. And it's obvious. Although I looked like a drowned rat who had been turning tricks all night, I was smiling from ear to ear in my new M-Rated license photo.

I tried to keep it low-key at the shop when I returned with Chris's bike -- I wanted to pretend I was sad to make everyone think I failed but I could NOT contain my pride. I walked into the doors and behind the parts counter and everyone could tell I had passed. In the midst of all boys waiting to hear the outcome, HE was there. And he seemed to smile the brightest of the bunch, even more so than Chris.

I had met him before. When Chris worked at the Other Shop, he was also employed as a technician and, the first day I met him, he was carrying two very long fluorescent ceiling lights to the dumpster. I was standing in the parking lot beside my car near the wall that separated the shop from the gas station wearing a see-through black knit shirt and, when I saw him, I can clearly recall having thought how handsome he was with his dirty blond hair sculpted carefully on his head. He looked at me and his eyes shone blue with a sort of complacent brilliance that betrayed his shyness. His sharp wide jaw set heavily against his face slowly slipped into an all consuming smile that he was trying to hold back.

Unlike most men who often comment on a woman's appearance I rarely, if ever, comment on a man's appearance. It seems to me that most every man has never appeared handsome or ugly to me until the moment they have opened their mouths. But this time, I was stunned with silence.

Chris and I were about to go out that night for a fellow co-worker's birthday celebration and, there I was, literally staring at HIM as though he were naked, choking a koala bear.

"Uhhh, hi! I'm Laura -- Chris's girlfriend."

"I know, I've seen you before," he said just before the burst of the lights hit the bottom of the dumpster.

"Hey we're heading out for Paine's birthday. Wanna join us?"

"Thanks but I'm actually celebrating my anniversary tonight."

"Congrats! Well maybe we can get together another time..."

Written at 11:18 p.m.