Charlie had had enough of the sweltering Arkansas soup known as July air, so MacDuff and I were heading out for his daily dose of two wheeled therapy. We were mounting up when a shrill little voice pierced my eardrums; “HEY! WHATCHOO THINK YOU DOING, MANG?”
I looked down to find a tiny preying mantis sitting on the tank of the Honda, so I said “we were going for a ride, as if it’s any of your business, you bug eyed little alien!”.
But he didn’t back down. If anything, he amped up his vibe and started gesticulating wildy with his spiky little green hands; “MY NAME IS JASON MAMOANTIS, AND I WAS HERE FIRST! AND I BE CLAIMING THIS BIKE AS ME OWN!” By this time, MacDuff was aware of the confrontation; “yo, Dad! I thought that this going to be OUR ride!” “Don’t worry, Duff; I’m not fixing to be bossed around by an obnoxious little pipsqueak”. Besides, I was a little bit scared; not necessarily of Junior, but of his mean momma that was probably keeping a bugeye on the whole situation. I didn’t think that she would take too kindly to a random stranger taking her offspring on a motorcycle ride, and I did not want to incur her wrath. Besides, I know that I occasionally sleep with my mouth open, and the possibilities that could enacted upon me by a vindictive preying momma mantis are so horrible that they don’t even brook consideration.
So I (respectfully) shooed Jason away, and he skittled indignantly across the tank and disappeared. Good riddance, I thought; I didn’t need any more attitudes along for the ride.
Twenty wind-blown miles later, I caught a hint of lime-green motion from the corner of my eye. Yes, it was Jason, defiantly glaring at me from his perch on the handlebars. He was using the brake fluid reservoir as a shield from the wind, and although I couldn’t hear what he was mouthing through his creepy sidewise mandibles, I am fairly certain that he was flipping me the bird with both of his spiky little green fingers.
This would not do. Life is too short to spend any part of it being upstaged by prehistoric looking little smartass on my own motorcycle, so I decided to show him who was the trail boss of this here outfit. If it was wind he was after, I would give him more of it than he was prepared for, so I hammered the throttle and watched the speedometer start to spin.
I might as well as saved myself the gas and embarrassment, as he wasn’t budging. If anything, he was enjoying himself immensely at my expense, especially as he was fully aware that I would have to gas up soon. That’s just great; insult added to injury, additional shekels from my pocket to finance a joy ride for a dog and a bug.
So there he sat and supervised, all smug and pompous, while I pumped 4.25 a gallon petrol into the belly of the Honda. Only then did he crawl up my arm to my shoulder, then onto my helmet to use it as a launching pad to propel himself into the setting sun. Oh, the humanity; oh, the indignity.
To be totally honest, the rest of the ride back to the Casa was a bit lonely. Although MacDuff was still on the bike behind me, Jason’s spot on the handlebars in front of me was now empty.
I may have to put an ad on Craigslist or Facebook marketplace offering free rides to mouthy little mantises; don’t laugh, it wouldn’t be the strangest thing I’ve ever done…
It’s always a party at the Casa del Whackos.