May 19, 2009

A Politically Incorrect Product Idea

Most of what I do requires a good bit of political correctness and, even worse, a reasonable quotient of civility and sensitivity. I teach at a liberal arts college. PC hell. I run my own music equipment repair business and many of my customers are sensitive musician types. I work in television and audio. And I teach MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) classes.

I, however, am not the sensitive type. Left on my own, I can blue stainless exhaust pipes with a string of expletives. I can make my machinist next-door neighbor shut up his un-air conditioned house in the middle of August when I describe how happy I am to be flipping the crap in my mulch pit instead of lounging by a lake. I am an equal opportunity grumpy old man and there is hardly a subject on earth that can't piss me off at the right moment. My kids and grandkids accepted, the world disappoints me mightily. Like Samuel Clemmons, I suspect humans descended from the higher animals; such as bugs and single cell life forms. I am convinced that Murphy and the universe are conspiring to keep me from enjoying my old age and the senility that accompanies that condition. Behind this calm, well-mannered exterior lies a seriously grumpy old man. From that background, comes this story.

I'm teaching a boatload of MSF classes this summer. About 5 classes into the season and I'm mostly enjoying the work. Since gas hit $4 last summer, the average age of my classes has steadily dropped. Younger students mean less work for me. Mostly, the old guys and broads are Hardly characters and have alcohol-murdered the majority of their brain cells during the first 3/4 of their lives and don't have the attention span, basic intelligence, reflexes, or common sense to be moderately safe on a motorcycle; even at 15mph on a closed range.

So, it's good that the wannabe motorcyclist age is declining. Regardless of the economy or fad of the moment, there are two sorts of "customers" who wear me out:

The first is the tattoo model, oversized factory worker white guy with an attitude. This guy is pissed off that he couldn't managed to waddle his hippobike around the DMV's simple course and is taking the class to "cheat" his way to a license. It's almost impossible to teach this guy anything because he thinks he already knows it all. He's convinced the DMV's test is fixed so guys on hippobikes can't possibly pass it. It doesn't make a mark on him to say that you've seen old guys on Goldwings pass the DMV test with their old lady in the passenger seat. He's special and his Hardly, Boss Hoss, Victory, or whatever blimpmobile his fat is draped over is "too hard to ride" in small spaces. No matter the outcome of the MSF class, this character is doomed to become a statistic.

The second is a sort of woman I like to think of as "bar maid." In her prime, she didn't need to learn how to ride a motorcycle because she could easily find a seat on the back of all sorts of hippobikes. What she did to earn that ride we can easily imagine, but we won't. Ok? Now that all the booze and bar smoke has turned her jowly, floppy, and wrinkled, she has to strap those bulbous boobs into some serious wire frames and drive herself to and from the bar. So, she bought a Hardly and discovered that he didn't have one single clue how to get the thing going without crashing into her garage door, parked cars, or the neighbor's barbeque grill. Or all three.
Now she's in my class and she has to justify herself with every piece of advice I give her. "The throttle sticks on this bike . . . I can't look where I'm going because I'll fall over . . . these brakes are sticky, I barely touch them and the bike starts jerking . . . the clutch is too stiff, I have to let it go fast or I'll break a nail . . . " Blah, blah, blah. All day long, it never stops.

I've only been doing this MSF stuff for 7 years and I've been teaching friends and other folks how to ride a motorcycle for 40 years. You bet lady, I'm sure that someone who started riding 20 minutes ago has all kinds of breath-taking-ly original things to say about motorcycling. I'm even more certain that my riding your bike and finding nothing wrong with it is perfect evidence that the bike is the problem and you are the feminine version of Valenino Rossi and Bob Hannah.

I get home, pick up a book, sit down in my favorite deck chair and my wife asks, "How'd your day go?" I tell her all this stuff that I just told you and finish with "What I want to say to the barmaid and the tattoo-boy is, 'Until you can ride, I don’t give a fuck what you think.'”

My wife said, "You should print that on a tee-shirt."

She's right. I might. (I sort of did.)


  1. Wow...I remember these people in my MSF class. I've watched the CHP take their Hardlys around tighter corners at slower speeds so its all BS. You can pass that course with just about anything. I took the course so I could learn a thing or two that may save my life one day...

  2. That's a good reason for taking the class.

  3. Thomas,

    Thanks for sending this stuff along. I haven't picked up a MMM for a little while and after reading this one, I need to keep going to that liquor store where I always found them. I don't go there that much anymore but I like to keep a little bourbon around for when I get the urge to stay at home.

    I took my MC road test when I was 16 in 1966 (possibly the first year they had it here in MN) on a '66 Yammie 250 Big Bear Scrambler. There was little to nothing to the test. The guy followed me around a pre-designated course in Fergus Falls (where I grew up). If that was deemed ok, then we went to a straightaway and he had me "run her through the gears". What a hoot. It took ten minutes and I have been licenced ever since (43 years). I have no clue what people have to do now but I can imagine the state has done it's level best to make many fail. That is probably a good thing after some of the older-new riders I have witnessed on the roads. Pretty scary! I know what a test it is for me everyday I ride to work on the freeway with experience. I see them weaving in and out of traffic in all lanes. Me? Left lane and stay there until it's time to get off. Only fight 'em from one side.

    I was seeing this gal a couple of summers ago who fits the description of the lady you described from your training course. As a result of her "biker mama" wannabe attitude, the relationship didn't last too long. She would have looked and felt great on the back of any bike. Long red hair that flowed in the wind (she hated helmets), big huge funbags that would have made a great backrest (she decided to have reduction surgery) and dressed like a leather witch with way too much make up. We couldn't go anywhere without her attracting attention from traditional biker types and then spending the whole time flirting with them. After that, I have re-aquainted myself with riding alone for the most part. Actually, I always enjoyed it better anyhow. I can go when I want, stop when and where I want and stay out there as long as I want. Since I'm not the prototypical "biker" who puts on a costume and parades around like a rooster on steroids, I found that biker chicks are all "rooster lovers" and can go lay their eggs over there.

    Keep up the good work Thomas. I'm a little crotchety too and can relate to how you feel about things. I have a word file at home that's populated only with things that piss me off. Maybe I'll send it to you.

    Keep the shiny side up..........Tom Worum (turbofix)


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