Skip to comments.A glimpse inside the heart of scary-motorcycle-rider guy
Posted on 06/02/2008 3:20:00 PM PDT by real saxophonist
A glimpse inside the heart of scary-motorcycle-rider guy
I am in the frozen food section of a grocery store, dazed in that Technicolor way that settles when we're faced with 14 kinds of margarine to choose from. I'm staring at the boxes when I catch sight of a man in a jacket.
It is superb, covered with patches and insignias, drab and worn in all the right places. It is so perfectly aged, it looks like a something from the wardrobe department of a Hollywood movie.
The man wearing it could also have stepped from a movie set -- he's what my kids, when they were younger, would have called a "motorcycle-rider-guy." He looks tough and convincingly self-sufficient. He's not smiling while he leans over the vats of butter and margarine to pick up a box. I'm staring. I spot the letters on one of his patches and string them together over the folds of a pocket. It says "Patriot Guard."
One year ago my friends attended the graduation ceremonies at Rocky Mountain High School and watched a boy graduate. Then they headed home to get ready for the party, to take the cheese plates out of the refrigerator, to unwrap the cold cuts, and double-check that the red and gold streamers hadn't blown away.
That's when they got the call from the wife of their oldest son. Sgt. Nicholas Walsh had been fatally shot in Iraq. Nick's wife wanted to tell them before two Marines, solemn faced and duty bound, made their long drive to arrive at the doorstep of this family that just moments before had been in celebration.
A full military funeral was held, smack in the middle of Fort Collins. The entire town stepped up. Word had it that crazy people -- and I don't use that phrase lightly -- from a Kansas hate group might picket the funeral. Hundreds of people showed up to place themselves as barriers, up and down the street, ready to shield the family from any potential ruckus. The Patriot Guard, clad in leather, with huge motorcycles and even bigger American flags, lined up to make an impressive and respectful wall.
At the grocery store, all this flits through my head. I look from the man's jacket to his face. He watches me stare at him. I blurt out, "Are you in the Patriot Guard?" He still doesn't smile; after all, I'm a complete stranger, staring, and in the dairy section no less. He answers a solid "yes."
Then everything moves together for me. I must have put the butter down. I leave my grocery basket and make my way around the refrigerated display. He's looking at me warily until I say "Did you ride for Sgt. Nick Walsh's funeral? His mom is my friend." His face falls, and then lifts and lights and softens all at once. His eyes fill half with tears.
He puts his butter down, and I hug him, and he's not even surprised. I thank him over and over again. He holds both my elbows, and says, "It wasn't about us, it was about Nick."
Before Nick's second deployment, his mother traveled to San Diego to see him, his wife, his two boys. As they drove through the gates of Camp Pendleton Marine base, they passed protesters with placards and signs about the war. His mom asked him, "Does that bother you?"
"What, that?" he said, following her gaze. He told her it didn't bother him at all. He said, "That's why I'm a Marine. To protect those kinds of rights, to protect those people."
After we left Nick's funeral last year, we walked past row after row of revving motorcycles, and crowds of -- I'll just say it -- some scary looking "motorcycle-rider-guys." I said to my sons, "See those riders? They are amazing. Don't ever be afraid of people just because of they way they look."
One son, who already wasn't afraid and was giving me the "Oh, brother" eye roll, said, "Not even the one with the spikes around his wrists and the skulls on his bike?"
"Not even him," I said.
The other son said, "Are they for the war or against it?" Because children see that Americans seem to fall into two camps over just about everything. "It doesn't matter," I told him. "They are both. They are all of it mixed up. They are Americans."
Natalie Costanza-Chavez is a writer who lives in Fort Collins and welcomes your e-mail. You can reach her, and read past columns, at www.gracenotescolumn.org, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org
For your edification.
Oh, sometime last fall I believe, I met a husband/wife team who rode with the Patriot Guards. They’d just left the funeral of a girl who’d been buried that day.
Like this writer, I made my gratitude known there in the checkout line, and expressed how proud I was of them and of America. They appreciated my comments, but not nearly as much as I appreciate all they do.
God bless the PGR.
Bump and an Amen.
i was at Rolling Thunder in D.C. one year. Most of the people there - if I had run into them anywhere else - probably would have made me uncomfortable given the stereotypes we all know. However, it didn’t take long to realize that I was safer there than anywhere - these were good people. They took their patriotism seriously and it was a privilege to be there with them.
I'm so glad I read it through and can see that she's real.
“Appearences are truly deceiving!”
Indeed they are.
psst....We bikers are not all bad guys or gals. ;<)
In fact, most of us aren’t bad boys at all. We just love to ride and we love the feeling of freedom that it gives us. While some folks can’t figure out why we do it, many of us don’t think that just because a persons heart is are beating, they’re alive. ;>)
There is a group of bikers that go to the homes of sexually abused children set to go to trial and testify against their abuser. They are very calm and gentle with the kids and show them their bikes and tattoos and such. Also, knowing how much an intimidation factor is for sexually abused children to face their antagonists they let the children know in no uncertain terms that when that child goes to court, several big, tough bikers will be in the audience to let the kids know that NO ONE is going to hurt them. And if they intimidate the abuser nobody loses any sleep, well except for the perp.
*This* is a biker thread ping
God bless ‘em for doing that!
God bless the Patriot Guard Riders!
Thanks for the article, now I need some tissues. God bless the Patriot Guard!!
OTOH, sometimes scary-looking people are also bad people. Some guys who ride motorcycles are very bad dudes, by anybody’s standards.
As a survivor of a “weird uncle” who totally got away with it, I wish to God I’d had people like that in my life, back then.
Maybe that’s part of why I have them in my life, now.
I know, without any shadow of a doubt, that NO one is ever going to harm me in any way, ever again and go unpunished.
If you’ve ever seen bikers pass each other on the road and automatically wave at each other and wondered “Gosh...do they ALL know each other?”...well, the answer is “Yes”, even if we’ve never met or will never see each other again.
And every one of us will stop to help the other when necessary, no exceptions.
You won’t find that in any other ‘societal subset’.
You were to the manor, born.
Get a hog, boy!