Locking Up

I blame the girl.

It was a weekend several years ago. My siblings were visiting town and I had been hanging out with them at Mom's house. However, there was a friend of mine that I needed to run into for one reason or another, so I fired up the bike and headed for the Old City.

In those days, bikes/bikers in the Old City were as common trees in a forest. Biker Rags had an annex there, the Helmet Head was a popular hangout, and bike nights drew hundreds of attendees every week. There was no official biker stuff happening on Friday nights but there were usually quite a few bikes parked around anyway. Mine was frequently one of them.

Anyway, I cruised through looking for my friend's bike and did not see it parked in any of the usual places. I parked in front of Manhattan's and went into Lucille's and inquired if he had been around that evening, figuring that he could have driven a car instead. I had my first and only beer of the evening while I inquired. But I wasn't there to hang out. When all or most of the siblings get together, we would typically stay up most of the night talking, laughing, telling stories and generally enjoying each other's company and I wanted to get back to that. Getting the majority of us all together was/is not something that frequently happened.

I left Lucille's and decided to swing through Manhattan's looking for my buddy. I didn't find him but I did run into a young lady I had encountered previously and to whom I was strongly attracted. I chatted with her for just a few minutes trying to figure out if there was any chance the attraction was mutual and I would not be shot down in flames were I to ask her out. While the matter was not definitively settled then and there, I felt I had reason to be hopeful.

So I left Manhattan's and climbed on the bike to head back to the family gathering. Now keep in mind that I had had one alcoholic beverage that day, the single beer at Lucille's. To the best of my recollection, I had not imbibed the previous day at all. I had eaten a meal or two that Friday. All of that is to say that I was sober. Real sober. One beer on the well-fed stomach of a 230-pound (hey! I said it was a few years ago!) man simply doesn't do much.

I threw my leg over the seat, put the key in the switch, and fired the bike up first kick. (Yes, every motorcycle I have owned has had a kickstarter, including the '81 HD I was riding then and still have.) I dropped it into first gear and smoothly pulled out. I immediately knew something was wrong. And I immediately knew what it was that was wrong. But I could not do one damn thing about it.

You see, whenever I park my bike where it will be out of my direct line-of-sight, I lock it. Only one lock that time though I have used more. The old schoolers out there are laughing right now because they have figured out that I pulled out without removing my fork lock. I'll bet that some of you know exactly what happens when you do that, and that is what happened to me. About two seconds after pulling out of my parking space, I found myself and my bike starboard side down in the middle of the intersection in the Old City.

No matter what dumb things you have done in your life, I'm pretty sure that this was more embarrassing. While there were not a lot of bikes there that night, there was a bunch of people. I had worked and played in that area of town for years and tons of folks there knew me. As near as I can figure, they all saw my dumbassery. Including a certain seriously attractive young lady I had just left in Manhattan's. And there I was, in the middle of the intersection with the rubber side oriented all wrong.

Like I said, I knew what was wrong before I actually got all the way horizontal. I was laughing as I got out from under the bike, picked it up, took off the fork lock, assured everyone that I was okay (including the young lady who I was now too embarrassed to talk to), fired up the bike, tucked tail, and got the hell outta there. If embarrassment alone could kill you, they would have buried me that weekend.

It probably wasn't even two years later that a bunch of my biker buds and I were hanging at the Helmet Head and a young man who was probably not quite as sober as I had been made the same mistake. His bike suffered a little more damage than mine did, but we got it back to my place, which was closest. As he was (is) happily married, I'm guessing that he blames the beer for the oversight. He's probably right. But as for my critical memory issues, I blame the girl.

Steve Dupree's resume includes a '76 Triumph Bonneville, '75 Norton Highrider, '76 HD XLCH, and '81 FXSB Sturgis. With a riding history that spans 30+ years, two continents, several states, and more bumps, scratches, dents, and roadside repair than he wishes to remember, Dupree learned about motorcycling and the lifestyle the hard way. Any anger he expresses, he came by honestly.