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
DC Chapter ping except for justanobody. I haven’t got around to removing her from the list yet.
Justanobody, don’t read this.
OTOH, some people who are dressed in expensive suits and have never been near a bike are murders, child abusers, bank robbers, and I could go on and on, but you get the picture.
Slowly working up the cashflow after the divorce while being the sole provider for my 2 Sons takes time. Almost there, though.
Most bikers are decent folk. A couple years ago I rode in a poker run to benefit the local schools that was organized by the Banditos. (Their kids attend school too).
They didn’t even comment I was on a Kawasaki.
You beat me by 3 seconds!
Thanks for the ping Jaz!!
I had the *the* baddest dude in this area watch over me like a dark guardian angel at a swap meet when a “nice guy” tried to cheat me out of a large sum of money because *I* didn’t know what the part he was buying actually was.
The “bad guy” saw the “good guy” point to a price on the list of items we were selling and knew he was screwing me over.
Without warning, the “bad guy” slammed his walking stick down across the paper and pointed to the right price and the “good guy” hauled ass.
The “bad guy” [and eventually 2 of his “brothers”] stood a respectful but short distance away from me the rest of the hour until hubby came back from parts-scrounging.
Then, he subtly tipped his hat and disappeared into the crowd.
To this day, if he sees me, he still tips his hat.
Another time, we rescued an out-of-gas “bad dude” off the side of the highway and got him back on the road.
We didn’t ask his name or anything else.
No matter where we go, if his “brothers” are there, they shadow us to make sure no harm comes to us, even though nearly a decade has passed and the out-of-gas guy is long dead.
I sat with a huge number of “bad dudes” in the infield of a bike race and it was so hot I was literally sick from it.
A huge “bad dude” that the other “bad dudes” gave wide berth to came and stood over me as I sat on the ground and provided very good shade for me for hours.
He had to be suffering terribly from the heat himself but he never said a single word.
He just stood, silently, arms crossed, staring straight ahead.
I’ve gotten more loyalty and devotion from “bad dude” strangers than I have 99% of my friends or my own flesh and blood.
My uncle is clean cut, mannerly, witty and loved by the community.
He is a pillar of his church.
He is famous for his generosity and willingness to help anyone in need.
If you met him and didn’t know what he was, I guarantee that you would like him.
And that’s why things went the way did.
No one would believe it of him, not even after other girls in the family suffered his “attentions”, too.
Wait until winter and buy a “basket case” cheap and wrench it yourself.
We’ve been there and done that many a time....:))
[one year, we just kept buying milk crates full of parts at swap meets until we had enough for a whole bike]...LOL!
What a great story the author tells!
Agreed. You cannot tell a book by its cover.
But I suspect a higher percentage of guys dressed as outlaw bikers are actually bad dudes than those dressed in more normal attire.
As the Bible says, the race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong.
But that is the way to bet.
God Bless the PGR