My dad bought his Harley-Davidson almost a year and a half ago. He said goodbye to any of my college tuition, and all renovations on our basement halted. He bought his ride without telling anyone but his wife. He rode it for probably a month before the rest of the family found out. The bike is a two seater, midnight blue, with chrome detail, and raised handle-bars. Similarly, when I was a child, my dad raved on and on about a midnight blue, four-door, crew cab Ford but, I was not old enough to have a sufficient college fund to spend. I feel like his Harley is a reincarnation of his Ford but, beggars can't be choosers when it comes to a mid-life crisis. At first I refused to dignify his purchase with a response. I looked at it, but wouldn't ride on it. I had always loved the Orange County Chopper show but I thought it juvenile for my own father to splurge on a motorcycle.
In June of 2008 his Harley-Davidson made it's first appearance to the public outside of my immediate family. He cruised up to my best friend's outdoor graduation party completely decked out in a skull cap, a mean Harley shirt, and steel-toe boots. Never have I been more proud of my dad's bad ass appeal. He just looked so cool. That summer he and my mother went all over Minnesota on the Harley, giving me plenty of nights to re-claim my tuition money by throwing parties. Motorcycle riders make for relaxed parent, right? Wrong. Either the new motorcycle smell has gone away, or the dog sold me out. They don't do over-night rides as often as they did.
I don't know if my dad's Harley is a mid-life crisis gift to himself or not; that seems to be my own running joke. Part of me thinks that he is trying to own the road, to scare the stupid out of jumpy Crotch-Rocket punks, and to define a new way of road rage intimidation. A few years back my family and I encountered an irresponsible youngster racing in between cars on his purple torpedo to get as much distance between himself and the police cars that were tailing him. We were on our way out of town for a much needed vacation. It had already been a chore to load the entire house into the car and then pile us on top of everything, and we were hardly on the highway when, of course, the little C.R. nailed the back end of our mini-van. He could have seriously injured my younger sister if he hadn't hit an orange construction cone on his way into our vehicle. My dad nearly threw his door off the hinges when he flew out of the car raging in his steel-toe boots. The C.R. kid is lucky my dad didn't shove his scrawny body up the mangled crotch-rocket's exhaust pipe. It took four police officers to stop my six foot six, invincible father from stomping the dazed rider into the tangled mess that was his bike. The end result of the lawsuit was that my dad had to have a bigger, louder, better bike than a crotch rocket; more leather, more straps, more mean mugs. After all, the swag is all about the riders glare: a bandanna tightened around a furrowed brow, a pair of sleek shades, pursed lips, and a firm crease around the corners of the mouth.
To all the amateurs: Don't mess with the big dogs because they will go out and buy a Harley and some Sturgis friends.