Things that stick

I was watching trailer a movie – much like any other movie that anyone sits down and watches.  And a quote came off that speaker and stuck in my head.  “… a walking monument to misbehaviour…”  wow.. and if that wasn’t the hook that made me jump on Google and find out where it was from.  Gonzo: The Life and work of Dr Hunter S Thompson”

Thomson ~ Thompson. Whats the difference you ask?  The sage answer is that when asked to spell the name Thompson, a person without that name might ask “Is that a wet or a dry Thompson?”  The answer – if there is a P (or pee if you sound it out) it’s a wet one.  If it’s a dry Thomson = there is no pee.  Ha ha.. Wet vs Dry.

But I digress.  What I was really hooked with in the movie – more of a documentary – was the description of riding a motorcycle at night: (this is a direct quote from the movie – it’s not mine – the formatting is out.. I know I know.. but the message is clear – forgive me)


So it was always at night, like a werewolf, that I would take the thing out for an honest run down the coast. I would start in Golden Gate Park, thinking only to run a few long curves to clear my head….but in a matter of minutes I’d be out at the beach with the sound of the engine in my ears, the surf booming up on the sea wall and a fine empty road stretching all the way down to Santa Cruz…not even a gas station in the whole seventy miles; the only public light along the way is an all-night diner down around Rockaway Beach.

There was no helmet on those nights, no speed limit, and no cooling it down on the curves. The momentary freedom of the park was like the one unlucky drink that shoves a wavering alcoholic off the wagon. I would come out of the park near the soccer field and pause for a moment at the stop sign, wondering if I knew anyone parked out there on the midnight humping strip.


Then into first gear, forgetting the cars and letting the beast wind out…thirty-five, forty-five…then into second and wailing through the light at Lincoln Way, not worried about green or red signals, but only some other werewolf loony who might be pulling out, too slowly, to start his own run. Not many of these, and with three lanes on a wide curve, a bike coming hard has plenty of room to get around almost anything…then into third, the boomer gear, pushing seventy-five and the beginning of a windscram in the ears, a pressure on the eyeballs like diving into water off a high board.

Bent forward, far back on the seat, and a rigid grip on the handlebars as the bike starts jumping and wavering in the wind. Taillights far up ahead coming closer, faster, and suddenly–zaaappp–going past and leaning down for a curve near the zoo, where the road swings out to sea.

The dunes are flatter here, and on windy days sand blows across the highway, piling up in thick drifts as deadly as any oil-slick–instant loss of control, a crashing, cartwheeeling slide and maybe one of those two-inch notices in the paper the next day: “An unidentified motorcyclist was killed last night when he failed to negotiate a turn on Highway 1.”

Indeed…but no sand this time, so the lever goes up into fourth, and now there’s no sound except wind. Screw it all the way over, reach through the handlebars to raise the headlight beam, the needles leans down on a hundred and wind-burned eyeballs strain to see down the centerline, trying to provide a margin for reflexes.

But with the throttle screwed on there is only the barest margin, and nor room at all for mistakes”

It reminds me of when I was sitting on the pillion of my husbands bike.  We had made a late night ride out past the lake on the North east end of town. Late.  Later than normal and we rode home in the full moon.  A pack of bikes.  A grey snake lit by headlamps.  The throb of the engine and the moon lighting everything almost in blue black relief.  I remembered when I was 7 and my brother put me between his legs on the tank of his old bike.  I remember the feel of the motor.  The wind licking my face. The solid chrome of the handlebars between grubby little kids fingers.  And I knew I wanted to ride for as long as this body would let me wrestle that metal off a kickstand and ride that rumble onto a road I’d never ridden before.

A movie. Just a single solitary movie took me back.  Isn’t that the way of it?


Excuse me now……..

I hear something calling me………………………………..










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