When I was in college (1986 I was invited not to return after the first year) I had a boyfriend from the Bronx. He had long hair and an earring. He wore a black leather jacket and aviator sunglasses. To a girl from the white-bread bland Connecticut suburbs he was about as bad-ass as it got. He got a motorcycle at some point and I loved motorcycles. He even let me drive once in a while – like Rainman; slow in the driveway on Sundays. Long after he and I were over I had a love for bikes.
A few years later I was about to be kicked out of the apartment I was renting (they sold the house it was in) and in desperation I searched the “Roommate Wanted” section of the newspaper. Yeah, a newspaper. An actual paper newspaper. I found an ad placed by some guy who wanted someone to share the house he was renting, and after talking to him on the phone for a few minutes I went to meet him. I was 21. He was 40. He seemed cool. He had a motorcycle. I asked him to take me for a ride and he said he never took a passenger without a helmet. I grabbed my helmet out of the trunk of my car, where it’d been rolling around for a few years. I think that sealed the deal – he took me for a ride, and asked me to move in.
A 21 year old female moving in with a 40 year old male stranger. What could go wrong? No, seriously, nothing went wrong. He and I became great friends. He even indulged my idiocy when I figured I needed my own bike. He got out the Bargain News – yes, another newspaper, on actual paper… and found a few used bikes for sale he thought we should go check out. We spent a whole weekend driving around looking at these bikes. I’d fall in love with it at first sight and he’d kick the tires, walk around it a few times and then he’d gently lay the bike down on the ground. He told me that if I could pick it up off the ground on my own, I could have it. I couldn’t pick up the 750cc I so desperately wanted, but when I saw the little red 400cc Yamaha I knew it was mine. He laid it down, I picked it up, I forked over $400 and he drove it home for me. I barely had money for groceries back then and I’m not sure how I justified the expense of that bike, plus the insurance on it and the registration but there I was with a motorcycle. Now I was the bad-ass. At least in my own mind. I got a black leather jacket. I got black leather boots.
My roommate and I spent the next couple of weekends in deserted parking lots while I tried to get the hang of the bike. I was fine when the bike was moving. I could zig zag around the cones, turn corners, accelerate and shift. If the bike remained always in motion I was great. The problem I had was the whole stopping thing. I had the same problem when I was a kid trying to iceskate – I couldn’t get the hang of stopping on the ice by using the skate, I could only stop by falling over or crashing into a rink wall. I dropped that bike so many times. I dragged my feet trying to stop, wore out the soles of my boots… I had some good rides, but eventually we decided that maybe I was better off sticking to passenger status and I sold the bike to someone else.
Thus ended my short-lived bad-assery.