I pulled up to a red light with my window down, smelling the fresh fall air. I adjusted my radio to listen to a good song now playing when a rolling thunder approached. It started as a low rumble which I thought was the bass on my radio, then it grew louder and louder until finally the Harley pulled up next to my open window and I was tempted to roll it closed to protect my left eardrum. I have read that Harley Motorcycles doesn’t sell motorcycles it sells a lifestyle. A lifestyle where a 9-to-5 cubical accountant can ride through a neighborhood and have people fear him.
This man was decked out in full Harley gear. He had the black, shiny half-helmet. He wore a black leather jacket and blue jeans with leather chaps. He had buckled, black boots and black gloves that had the orange Harley logo on them. The bike itself seemed to bulge with chrome like muscles. The chrome-covered engine shook while it idled as if groaning against the breaks, aching to eat up the road. Everybody was aware of the Harley and its rider while he, seemingly, was only aware of the road ahead behind his wrap-around sunglasses: the ultimate in rebel coolness. He revved the engine a few times as the lights began to change, the engine growled at a higher pitch and lowered to its uneasy idle. The light turned green. I pushed my accelerator and expected the Harley to blow by me like I was standing still. I heard a revving, a loud click and as the leather boot lifted chrome into first gear, and then … a cough and … silence.
All of that leather and chrome show was negated in one mistimed clutch. The image crumbled into reality. The makeup came off the blemishes. Someday I will own a Harley. I will buy leather gloves and a leather jacket. I will wear a helmet and sunglasses and probably grow my beard and mustache a little longer. I feel the call of the open road that can be seen only on the seat of a Harley. But I also know that underneath all that I still am me … blemishes and all. Don’t lose yourself in the leather and chrome of life because most people will see through it eventually and those you love see through it immediately. Meanwhile, I’ll keep rolling down my window and dreaming.