I was on my way to the shop yesterday afternoon to roast coffee for a large order. I figured I was going to be gone for a while so I should probably grab something to eat. I headed for the nearest fast food drive-thru. I ordered a sandwich and headed to the first window so I could pay. I was met by a bubbly, teenage girl who smiled and greeted me with the following words: “I love your car!” I chuckled, paid my bill and moved on. That brief moment reminded me of a universal truth…chicks love bikes and cars!
Call me sexist or cliched if you want, but hear my story. I went to work for the General Electric Company in 1978. I was 17 years old and, as my dad used to say, “full of piss and vinegar.” There I was, working side by side with 30+ year old men and women, all raising families on the same salary that was making…and I still lived at home. I had not even graduated high school yet! It was one of the few times in my life that I had more money than I knew what to do with. But, being a 17 year old boy growing up in the 70’s, I found places to spend it. I didn’t just “party,” I “sponsored” parties! And I bought a new car.
I had my heart set on a Datsun 280Z. However, they had a sticker price in the $9-11,000 range. For 1978 that was an expensive car. My dad, in an attempt to keep my newfound financial powers in check, decided to secretly shop for a car on my behalf. He came to me one day, said he found a car he thought I might like, so we climbed in his truck and headed for the Ford dealer. There on the lot sat a brand new, 1978 Ford Mustang King Cobra. Now, let me be the first to say that, from my perspective today, the car looks a bit tacky with the big cobra on the hood and all, but at 17, it was “sweet!” They had two on the lot, a blue model and a bright red one, both sporting a 302 engine. I drove the red one home. In 1978 we didn’t have laptops, cell phones, smartphones, iPads or the Internet…and yet we still had fun! We didn’t text our friends; we just went to see them. For entertainment on the weekends, we cruised town…and drank…and flirted with one another…and cruised…and drank (or other things). And then we drank some more (not suggesting it was a good idea, just stating the facts). Being 5’5″, not particularly athletic and very quiet, I was not exactly a “chick magnet.” But the day I pulled up to 17th Street Park in the Cobra everything changed. All of a sudden, my popularity took a steep climb. The guys loved it, and the girls loved it even more. And they all wanted to go for a ride. Next thing I know, some of the cutest girls in town, ones I knew already and others I had never met and still don’t know there names, were riding in my passenger seat. Ah, the power of “cold blue steel!”
Of all the girls that wanted to go for a ride in my car, I only let 3 drive it. The first girl who had the privilege of driving my car was Sherry. She was probably my “first love.” She was also my best friend’s sister, which made it a bit strange. Of course, the fact that she did not love me back kept things from being too awkward. It was one of those, “our friendship is so special, I don’t want to ruin it,” relationships. Yeah, I know. Only, we really did have a great friendship, all of us. Mike, her brother, was like a brother to me. We were inseparable. Sherry was the girl who ignited my love for brunettes. I remember driving to Mike’s house one morning to pick him up for school, and tagging along behind him was this beautiful brunette. Mike said, “Is it okay if we take my sister to school. She starts high school today.” I did not mind at all! Was this the same little girl I saw running around Mike’s place last summer? Amazing what time can do. When I hear Seger sing, “She was a black haired beauty with big dark eyes,” I remember those days.
Anyway, before I get lost in that coal black hair, let me just say, what Sherry wanted, Sherry got. At 16, well Hell, let’s be honest here, she couldn’t have been more than 15 when I let her behind the wheel, Sherry was driving my Cobra around town. The second girl I let drive my car was not even a friend of mine. I didn’t even like her very much. But she was just so well…uh, “put together,” that I couldn’t resist. The last girl I let drive my car was my girlfriend. We only dated about 3 months, but she drove my car to school when she go the chance. All of that ended on a cool, wet night in October, 1979, the 22nd to be exact. A semi-truck barreling down the four-lane decided to run an intersection and I failed to see him coming. I woke up on the highway, flat on my back. The people around me thought I was dead, and I wasn’t too far from it. Goodbye Mustang; goodbye chick magnet.
I soon discovered that as a motorcyclist, all was not lost. Chicks like bikes too! I remember cruising downtown one night on my Suzuki 550L. Blue jean jacket, gloves, no helmet and long hair. I was running down College Avenue and heard a voice yell, “Hey!” I turned to the right and pacing me in the next lane was a car load of girls hanging out the window. “What are you doing tonight?” they asked. “Just riding,” I said. Told you I was smooth. “Want to party?” Hmm. What to do? I liked to party. And I liked girls. I raised my left hand, and with my thumb, pointed to my gloved ring finger. The girl sounded genuinely disappointed when she said, “Married?” I nodded, and they were gone. Chicks.
I can’t tell you how many times over the years, as I’ve roamed around the countryside on my motorcycles, that women have asked or “offered” to go for a ride. Now, I’m a realist, so I know I had nothing to do with the offers…it was the bike. Now that I’m older, nearly bald and wrinkled, I enjoy watching the following scene play out over and over again when I go for a ride. Keep in mind that I don’t ride an “old man’s bike.” I ride a “naked sport bike,” a Triumph Street Triple R. It is, in my opinion, a pretty damn sexy machine. It has become a fairly common experience to pull up to a gas station, a restaurant or some other location, park the bike, and notice that I’ve caught some young woman’s eye. Then comes the fun part. I take off my helmet! You can see the disappointment on their faces! They were expecting a rugged, handsome, daring young man. Instead, they got me. Sorry ladies!
I’ve been married to my wife Lori for 16 years. I met her when she was 29. What a beauty! And yes, she has coal black hair, with just the right touch of red shining through in the sunlight. She was, to me, irresistible. Still is. She doesn’t care much for bikes. In fact, she never rides with me. She tolerates my habit, lets me buy more bikes than I should and doesn’t mind if I take trips. Cars, on the other hand. Well, Lori likes cars. No, Lori “loves” cars. However, instead of chasing guys with cool cars, she just buys her own! Looks like my “glory days” are over.