Motorbikes not for later years of life

By Bob Huber: Local columnist

Just when I was beginning to enjoy my twilight years, our youngest offspring ran out of money in her quest for a Guinness record for years in college. Her husband, once removed, pressured me into tiding them over by temporarily buying his overpriced motorcycle — a Kamikaze 500 or something Japanese like that.

He stored it in our barn, and said he’d come back the following week and get it. My wife, Marilyn, labeled the transaction another dry spell in my suspension of disbelief. She looked at the bike sorrowfully. “My mother warned me never to sleep with a cretin.”

Whatever, I snuck out to the barn to have a look-see, acting like a kid with a stolen sack of Bull Durham and a copy of “Police Gazette.” In the damp dimness, I straddled the bike, fiddled with the gadgets, and murmured, “Vvvroom! Vvvroom!”

That’s when I called a friend, and asked, “How do you drive a motorcycle?”

“Straight ahead, preferably,” he said.

“I’m serious,” I said. “I temporarily bought this bike from my son-in-law.”

“Golly, Huber, you don’t buy motorcycles when you’re in your twilight years. But tell you what — I’ll come over and show you how to start it. We might even take a little spin. Gee, it’s been 40 years. Just don’t tell my wife.”

So my friend took me through a crash course — poor choice of words — on a nearby vacant field, and I asked, “Why are you wearing a bandanna over your face?”

“You think I want to be recognized?” he said.

In a couple weeks, I was proficient enough to venture solo onto the nearby interstate. My son, a state policeman, gave me a pair of his old coveralls and a helmet. “Stay poised,” he said. “Drive it like you would a car.”

He didn’t mention that the coveralls were emblazoned “STATE POLICE” across the back, and the helmet was marked “SWAT TEAM.” Cruising down the four-lane highway, I soon led a convoy of trucks and cars who refused to pass.

I waved them around, but everyone kept their place in line. I shrugged and drove on, singing “I Love a Parade.”

By the end of the month, I was well on my way to the second coming of Evil Knevil — black leather jacket, boots and a unique talent for plucking bugs from my teeth while driving. I didn’t have to say, “Vvvroom! Vvvroom!” anymore.

That was when my son-in-law showed up. “I need the bike back. Our car’s on the fritz.”

My lips trembled, but I reluctantly gave him the bike, plus the jacket, and he promptly had an accident, from which he emerged only slightly scathed but debt ridden with chiropractor bills.

The bike, however, looked like a piece of modern sculpture, so he scrapped it. I never saw it again. I never saw the money I temporarily paid for it either. I think Marilyn had a hand in that.

My friend shook his head and said, “At your age, you should have known better.”

“I didn’t have the accident.”

He smiled. “I’m talking about helping your kids financially. Any fool knows better by the time he’s in his twilight years.”

He was right, of course, and Marilyn was too. At least I thought so until I looked up the word “cretin.” I was shocked. “Arrested mental development, indeed!” I said. “Vvvroom! Vvvroom!”

Bob Huber is a retired journalist living in Portales. He can be contacted at 356-3674.