Happy anniversary to me! Also: promises, promises
SO. This is the tenth installment of this here hogwallow, which, given our quarterly publishing schedule, means it’s been running for…let’s see, uhh…oh, I dunno, a couple or three years or so. Hey, they promised there’d be no math, and no-math is one of the things I’m best at. Anyways, if anybody feels like celebrating, well, feel free to belly up to the bar and buy yourselves a beer.
What? You think I oughta be paying for the beer, since it’s my party and all? Well, umm, sorry—no can do on that one; but since they pay the hard-working and dedicated OB staff exclusively in beer nuts, I guess I can supply the snacks.
You longtime readers of my swill (hey, I can say that now!) will remember that I lost my first wife to an unspeakably tragic bike accident in the mountains of North Carolina a few years back. I’ve since remarried, and my new wife just recently gave birth to our first young’un, a girl, which amounts to one of the funnier and more unexpected of the twists and turns one can expect to pop up on life’s long and winding highway. It makes a man think some about what other surprises the future may hold in store, if he’s any kind of a man at all, and being a dyed-in-the-wool biker since a very early age, my own thoughts tend to run along the lines of freedom, both the two-wheeled variant and generally. So with that in mind, I think I owe it to little Madeleine to mull things over and try to offer her some sort of covenant for her own future, insofar as one man can make guarantees of that sort at all. So, away we go:
1) I promise that when the time comes for you to make your own decision about whether to ride, I will be both supportive and realistic
Motorcycles have given me more joy, and more pain, in my own life than I would ever have imagined possible. Just like my folks (neither of whom rode, although my dad did eventually succumb, getting his own bike and riding with us when I was a teenager) always said when I was a kid pestering them for his very own dirt bike, motorcycles are dangerous. That danger is to be neither ignored nor denied; it is to be faced, squarely and honestly, and dealt with on its own terms.
You gotta pay for your thrills one way or another, and when it comes to riding motorcycles, the tariff can easily be your very life. But cringing away from risk isn’t the answer; hell, it’s downright un-American if you ask me. In fact, a large part of the fun of so many endeavors, hobbies, or lifestyle choices is successfully defying the risk involved and coming out the other side a wiser and more experienced human being. This is by no means an accident.
At the same time, only a fool recklessly rolls the dice when he knows his bag of tricks is empty, or inadequate to cover his bets. If my daughter wants to learn to ride someday—and if she’s anything at all like her mom and dad, who have both been daredevils and hellraisers their whole lives long, then she almost certainly will—I owe it to her to give her the benefit of my years of experience riding everything on two wheels I ever had the opportunity to straddle.
I promise to be as patient as I can be, and that my instructions will be as comprehensive as I can manage to make them, and that I will at the same time not be overbearing or overprotective. I will not be afraid to let her try, nor will I be judgmental if she fails.
2) I promise that I will do everything in my power to help see to it that the world you grow up in is as free as I can help make it
That’s already a tall order, since the America we live in now bears little resemblance to the one I grew up in. Thanks to overreaching career politicians of both major political parties—who can always, always, always be trusted for one thing, and one thing only: to betray their oath to the Constitution in favor of their own self-interested boodling, megalomania, and corruption—many of our freedoms both vital and trivial have been lost. And freedoms lost are seldom if ever reclaimed by anything short of violent revolution, which is a can of worms that has its own sour, infertile soil at the bottom.
Individual liberty and the right to self-determination are the most precious birthrights we have as Americans, and our permanent political class spends most of its time shitting all over them. I don’t necessarily disagree with most of my biker friends who believe politics is a waste of time, a fool’s errand, a scam, a rigged game that can’t ever be truly won by honest men; at the same time, what Lenin said about war is certainly true also: you may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you.
So while I’m not interested in getting into any sort of partisan shitfling here, or in telling anybody how or even whether they ought to vote, I think the least I can do is keep up with what’s going on in the wider world, and to do whatever I can to make sure these grabby assholes know I’ve got my eye on ‘em whenever they make another illegitimate lunge for either my freedom or my wallet. There are ways to do that both within and outside the established system; resistance to encroachments on liberty comes in all sorts of flavors, from overt to well under the radar. I owe it to my little she-devil to do what I can within the limits I can remain comfortable with, without making myself too big a target for the government juggernaut, to her potential detriment.
3) I promise to do my best to be protective, but not overprotective
I mentioned this in number one already, but it bears some elaboration, I think.
I already know all too well that the most difficult moment I’m ever going to face, given the history I mentioned earlier, is the day when she swings a leg over her own bike and rides off to parts unknown, to do God only knows what, with God only knows who, all on her merry lonesome. But I can’t let myself dread it too much; that way, as they say, lies madness.
Too many kids nowadays live in an artifical bubble created for them by namby-pamby milksop parents who are scared of their own damned shadows; they go nowhere without a mandatory helmet and suit of armor; they eat nothing that might be outside the mainstream of bland, prepackaged pap approved for them by the overreaching government I just railed about; they live lives not of quiet desperation but of fearful, fretful worry and “concern” over what might possiby go wrong—which amounts to not living at all. No music that might have cuss words in it; no TV or movies that depart from mushbrained orthodoxy; no big scary thoughts or unsavory associations; no risk—and therefore, no rewards. As my wife says, too many parents nowadays are scared to even let their kids get dirty, for fear of what toxins might be lurking in the very Earth itself, waiting to strike down the heedless.
I swear to God, I saw a video on the innarwebs not long ago of some crackpot Long Island housewife waxing hysterical because she saw a mini-rainbow caused by the sun shining through the water being tossed by her lawn sprinkler. She kept cawing over and over, “This is not right! This is NOT RIGHT! What have they put in our water to cause this to happen?!? THIS IS NOT RIGHT!!” She was off-camera for the whole shriekfest, but you could almost see her hands wringing and tugging out whole locks of hair from her empty fucking head.
I only wish I was making it up.
Part and parcel of the government encroachment on freedom and liberty I mentioned before is making sure the populace is reduced to frightened children, scared little sheep who would never dare to question authority in any form. Bikers have long been one of the last bastions against that sort of milquetoast, pussified conformity; my little girl will grow up a biker through and through, and the associated, undeniable risk be damned. Although too many of us seem to have abandoned or at least forgotten it, Live free or die is still a motto worth embracing. I promise to do my best to allow my girl the space to live by that worthy motto herself.
Although when her rebellious teen years come rolling along and she decides to get into rap music or some other such abomination, I assure you there’s gonna be trouble.