In the interest of punching holes in MMM’s political correctness quota, I thought I’d raise a little hell in this month’s column. I suppose if I didn’t want to piss off more than a few people, I’d have to start the column with “and now for something really different.” So this will just be more of the same old Geezer crap. Pretty much the worst thing you can say about a group of men (young or old) is to accuse them of acting like a bunch of old women. The stereotype being that old women are conservative, frail, and afraid of things that go “bump” in the daytime. In my experience, it’s a poor stereotype since I’ve run into more old men who are timid and wimpy than old women who fit the type. However, any insult that actually irritates the object of derision is worth using. Whatever collateral damage it causes is just icing on the cake, from an insult-effectiveness perspective.
With the irritation factor well in hand, I want to say that far too many aspects of motorcycling marketing are downright old-womanish. It only makes sense that it would be, since motorcycling is a piddly fraction of the country’s economic and social activities and the “Land of the Free” has become about as timid as England in the last few decades. We’re so conservative that, any day now, I expect a national referendum to invite the King of England (or the Pope) back into American politics. On one side of politics, we have “bleeding heart liberals” and on the other, we have “fainting heart conservatives.” I can’t tell one from the other without the TV captions under their simpering faces. A wimp is a wimp, no matter how they butter up their political positions.
That political/social wimpiness has bled into our downright anti-social, balls-to-the-wall, WFO-or-give-me-death sport. No, I’m not talking about Victor’s regular advocating of helmets and other protective gear. I wear my gear everywhere and I don’t need some bloodsucking government wimp to tell me I am breaking Big Mommies’ law to convince me to gear up. In fact, the reason I wear gear is in anticipation of falling down. The stuff doesn’t keep you from hitting the road, it keeps you from smearing yourself all over the road. Slugs don’t worry about falling down because they think they’re not going fast enough to get hurt. I know I’m going fast enough to get hurt. Hell, I’ve busted bones and torn muscles and ligaments riding bicycles and motorcycles, playing baseball, football, basketball, and chipping ice in my driveway. If I want to keep playing I have to gear up because I’m going to screw up and find myself sliding down the road on whatever synthetic material I’ve strapped on to protect myself from sliding down the road.
Somehow, people who sell, promote, or regulate our activity have come to the silly conclusion that passing laws to protect ourselves from ourselves will have some effect on traffic safety. We all know that if the regulators actually gave a flying poop about traffic safety, the first thing they’d do would be to take about half of us off public roads. Licensing every idiot with a car title in hand is no way to create safe highways. But that’s what they do and, as a public apology for their lameness, they try to make us strap in, helmet up, and drive slowly.
Personally, I think Big Mother should be limited to baking cookies and changing invalid’s diapers (especially those who became invalids by doing something exciting and getting smashed up in the effort) and leave risk taking to the kids who know how to do it best. If it were up to Big Mother, nobody would go racing. Nobody would scuba dive, skydive, hang glide, downhill ski, roller or skateboard, float white water rapids, or bust a tooth prying a beer cap loose. What kind of world would that be? Safe and boring, that’s what.
A great jazz player used to shout, “shoot me now, while I’m feelin’ good.” A great American writer recently wrote, “I’d rather be shot out of a cannon than squeezed out of a tube.” That’s what life is about. It’s not how long you live, but how much fun you had while you were alive. Longevity is overrated, fun isn’t.
It appears to me an especially some silly part of our social wimpiness is that the folks who have to clean up road guts think the rest of us should be making their jobs less stressful. My advice would be that if you can’t stand the goo, don’t join the highway patrol. It’s not like we made you take that overpaid, under-worked, donut-chomping job. As far as I’m concerned, if some states (Iowa comes to mind) laid off 90% of their highway cops the roads would still be clogged up with twice as many as are needed to meet a “necessary and reasonable” standard.
One of our country’s founding slogans used to be “live free or die.” We’ve turned that into “live safe and you won’t notice dying.”
A life led without some adventure is a life wasted. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking with it. After all, it’s not like there’s a shortage of human beings on the planet. You can’t take a step anywhere on earth without putting a toe in human crap. If some of us want to risk everything to experience a moment of life, why do we have to worry about the opinions of some stagnating government drone or some old “women” who are afraid of their own shadows?
Get out there and live a bit. You might like it. If you don’t, get the hell out of my way and keep your opinions (and laws) to yourself.
MMM June 2004