I've been riding a motorcycle for just over ten years.
It used to be the most interesting thing about me, until I started skating roller derby. Somehow that's overshadowed the motorcycles and copious amounts of leather I wear while riding. I'm baffled, too.
The Dear Husband and I have met some amazing people while traveling around near and far...we have friends across the continent and as close as a mile from us. The funny thing about meeting them through motorcycling is that we initially met them over the internet.
One particular group we met through the internet is scattered across southern California, with smatterings in Florida, Arizona and the midwest. We call them "netscum", and we met most of them in Cypress, CA a few months after we got our bikes.
It was at an event that's become a ritual known as "Free Beer". It's a yearly party held at Fred and Cindy's house. When we met them, we didn't know them, and they didn't know us. We sat in their backyard, mainly keeping to ourselves and people-watching while they kinda kept to themselves and mingled. As the evening wore on and the drinking continued, I ended up sitting next to a long-haired individual with a biting wit and a never-ending beer glass. Adrien.
We didn't make a great impression on Adrien. In fact, he disliked us.
He doesn't even remember talking to me at Free Beer, but he does remember us showing up to his house a few weeks later when he had a party. He definitely didn't like either of us after talking with us then.
He continued to dislike us for awhile. We just weren't his people. On the surface, both the DH and I can be jerks. Well, even when you get to know us, we can be jerks. Adrien's surface can be a bit rough, too. So we all tried to get along while bristling a little bit.
Funny thing though...I always liked Adrien, even when he'd rather have his face eaten by piranhas than have to deal with my general idiocy at various social netscum events. And my idiocy knows no bounds.
The following summer after we met the netscum at the first Free Beer, the DH went on a roadtrip to a bbq in Illinois(and what other reason would one go to Illinois other than a weekend bbq?)with some of the netscum. That group was lead by Adrien. Oh boy. This was gonna be interesting for the DH.
Adrien made the dry promise to me of not killing and/or abandoning the DH on the trip. He kept that promise, but it was still a kind of hazing for the DH.
The DH got a lot of grief for not being a morning person in a group of morning people. He got grief for taking forever to put on his raingear when everyone else got suited up right away. He got grief for his fear of tornadoes as they rode towards a few. He got grief for getting his then-long hair stuck in his tent zipper after being told by Adrien's then-girlfriend that he looks better when his hair isn't tied back in a ponytail. He got grief for almost getting run over in the middle of the highway while drunkenly trying to cross it after a night of drinking Everclear(how the entire group survived the trip based on what I heard about that bar-stop boggles my mind).
But a funny thing also happened on that trip. Because the DH essentially rolled with the punches and his knowledge of both practical and esoteric subjects was occasionally helpful, Adrien started to minutely change his opinion of the DH.
As the years went on, and the netscum hung out, lived life, talked a lot, got together, and occasionally even rode together, Adrien stopped disliking us. It was gradual and organic. He soon grew to tolerate us better. An early thawing happened when Adrien and I discovered that we both loved watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and enjoyed watching old movies. Every time we saw Adrien, I'd end up sitting with him discussing film, tv, and art, with an occasional side trip to truly intellectual subjects where Adrien did most of the talking while I tried to follow along. Which no one would expect from a couple of long-haired motorcycle-riding scumbags who also happen to be semi-closet nerds. And it was fun.
A few major life-changing events happened in the netscum group, and some people's character really showed through. Trust was tested, backup was needed, and emotional upheaval was strong, unwieldy and ugly.
That's when Adrien decided that we were his people after all, because neither us nor he buckled under the pressure. These events made all of us a bit more philosophical. He actually likes us now.
And that was a revelation that has benefitted us.
As life went on, we saw the netscum group as a whole less and less, even though we still rode. Some people in the group have left for their own paths, and some people won't leave, no matter what. We mostly still see them at Free Beer over at Fred and Cindy's house every autumn. And so that's when I sit with Adrien, discussing whatever we feel like discussing at the time under the influence of beer and the highly alcoholic contents of what is known as the Ugly Jug(and it's damn ugly some years). That's grown to be my favorite part of Free Beer.
This year was no different. Adrien and I sat and talked about The Dark Knight, Laurel and Hardy, roller derby, our pets, our spouses, new cars, riding, my crapacious job outlook, and Adrien's writing all while I gnawed on some bbq ribs. Adrien commented, I love these conversations! We don't do this enough! True. Thank goodness for email though, right? Yes, we gotta email more often, Adrien replied.
In his most recent email to me, Adrien included a link to a story he wrote that just got put on the interwebs for all to read. I now know that I can meditate after all and figure out how to solve problems. You smart people will enjoy it, even if you've never read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance...I've never read it, but am now tempted to even if I don't understand the whole thing.
It's almost too bad that Free Beer happens but once a year.
Oh, and the above drawing was done as a thank you card for Fred and Cindy for holding Free Beer. I had fun using a brush pen for it.