We glanced at each other simultaneously. I nodded hello, and he—get this—laughed in my face. He looked at me, looked down at my bike—making a quick assessment about my manhood (which he identified as Level-7 Pussy)—looked back at me and laughed, out loud, real nasty-like. Then he turned away in disgust, as if a glob of bird shit had landed on my head and was dripping down my cheek.
It wasn't a big deal, really. I know the score. Harley riders deplore scooter riders the way stand-up comedians deplore mimes. And pretty much everyone else older than 12 thinks scooters are a joke, too. Well, everyone older than 12 can suck on my skid marks! My ride is a beast. It goes zero to 60 in—well, actually, it doesn't ever get to 60. But it can do 35, no problem—only takes a few minutes to get there. Then it's zip-zip, putt-putt all over the place!
Seriously, though, for me, a scooter makes crazy-good sense: For one, it's a huge money saver. The gas, insurance, registration— even the cost of the vehicle itself—combined, are only a little more expensive than renting a couple of Pauly Shore impersonators for a party. Second, I work from home, which means no long freeway commutes. Lastly, I live at the beach, where parking is scarce and traffic is fierce, making a scooter ideal because it parks anywhere and splits the lane to get to the front of the line at traffic lights—which is exactly what I was doing when I came upon the biker.
Now, for the record, I didn't nod to him as though I thought we were badass biker brethren of the road—as if we had something in common the way, say, a Corvette owner would nod at another 'Vette owner, or the way black men in Alpine nod on the oft chance they cross paths. No. I nodded to him because we were standing right next to each other, looking at each other. It was a human-to-human nod for crissake, not biker-to-biker. I would never consider my little putt-putt job to be in his hog's league. However, I'm also not going to feel inferior because my chosen mode of transportation doesn't meet the approval of a man who cuts off the arms of a leather jacket with a hacksaw and thinks that's punk rock.
When the light turned green, he revved up and peeled out, leaving me in a poisonous cloud of noise pollution, hate pollution and pollution pollution. And what I thought as I stared at the back of his motorcycle jacket, with the motorcycle-club iron-on patch was, He thinks I'm the pussy!? The guy who irons decorative patches onto the back of a sawed-off leather jacket because he thinks that's punk? The guy who replaced the stock tailpipes on his ride with ones that are twice as loud, for no other reason than to be noticed and/or annoying? The guy who belongs to some juvenile social club with handshakes, passwords, parliamentary-style bylaws and arbitrary officer rankings? You know how those first meetings always go: “OK, so I'll be the President, and Bear will be V.P., and Vulgor is the Road Captain, and Sammy “the Hammer” will be Sergeant at Arms”—and then you have the “prospects,” who are basically college-fraternity pledges, which is really what these biker gangs are, rolling fraternities, the only difference being that biker gangs have goofier names. Here are just a few nuggets of comedy I found on MotorcycleClubIndex.com:
• Organized Kaos (stifling my laughter).
• The Wastelanders (as if they were a gang of rolling marauders, scanning a post-apocalyptic hinterland for scantily clad, mute chicks and gasoline).
• Gospel Riders (who are, their website says, “Motorcycling for Jesus”).
• The Centurions (actually, I wanted to name my first rock band The Centurions—when I was 15!)
• The Star of David Bikers (blood enemies of The Gospel Riders).
• A Few Good Men (which is not what you think; though, you have to wonder how it was possible not to notice the gayness dripping off that name).
Speaking of homosexual bikers, I absolutely had to Google “gay motorcycle clubs” when researching this column. Alas, all that came up were totally inoffensive, non-hilarious monikers like The LGBT Motorcycle Club, The Golden Gate Guards and The Spartan Motorcycle Club. What a disappointment! I was hoping for some totally awesome, totally faggy, gay-biker-gang names, like The Sodomites, or The Truck Stop Cruisers, or the queer chapter of the Mongols Motorcycle Club—The Mangols. Or how about The Fag Hags, for a motorcycle gang composed of meth-addled straight chicks who follow The Mangols. Or, my all-time favorite gay-biker-gang name I just made up: Hell's Anals.
I swear to God, I am seriously thinking about going gay just so I can wear that patch on the back of my sawed-off leather jacket. At least then, when I encounter one of these holier-than-thou Harley enthusiasts on my little zip-zip, putt-putt motor scooter, he'd have a reason to object to my presence: Because my iron-on biker-gang patch isn't making fun of gay people; it's making fun of him and his amusing fraternity, preposterous costume and obnoxiously loud tail pipes that he intentionally modified for no other reason than to be obnoxious and loud.