Last spring my husband bought a motorcycle, swapping the Kawasaki of 30 years ago for an orange Harley Davidson. Orange, my favorite color, but an odd one for a Harley. I always picture the black Harley. A few people said midlife crisis, BAMBI, flaky. I said nothing. He never consulted me on the purchase, although I knew he was buying one. I think it was just one of those things I was to interpret; inevitably I considered the parallels of the Kawasaki to the Harley. My friend said at his age people were getting rid of motorcycles instead of hopping on. A relative got rid of his after a couple of close calls. Someone said to wait for tattoos. I never thought it foolish, believing he could decide his own risks.
I was heartened and saddened by his seeming desire to bond with his son who owned three motorcycles and parked at least one in our garage. I saw this as a hopeful sign of reaching out in new ways to family members. His purchase, though, may have been more duplicitous than that. Assuredly, a motorcycle was a better choice than the skateboards that my stepson still ramped up and down after 30 odd years which resulted in a broken bone my mother-in-law warned him about before he left for a skateboard weekend a few years ago. She hated to be right.
One day my stepson stopped out to the house with his girlfriend-at-the-time. I snapped a picture as they rode away with her holding on to him. I was envious of that time in life. Motorcycles seemed to offer a certain free lifestyle. But a machine doesn’t make you free, although it may feel like that for the length of the ride. Then you return home. Maybe that’s the dream, to never return home.
Jacob said his ex-wife and her cousin were attracted to men on motorcycles, something confirmed in a story told by an old boyfriend. How much does that chick-magnet reason have on a man’s decision to buy a motorcycle? But I am more interested in women on motorcycles. There was a woman at the mushroom mines who always rolled in on her bike. There are women riders about town. So why do women buy motorcycles? Proof that we can join in any activity that men have dominated? A show of skill? The adrenaline rush of riding the open road as the heroine in your own story? Attracting men? Maybe they, like me, have that wish to keep moving relatively unencumbered to the end of the road. Or maybe it’s just easier to park.