Dad wonders how I know, but I know; he thinks it might be the difference between khakis and kevlar, or shoelaces and velcro, but that’s not it. It’s not what clothes that he puts on that makes me lose my mind, but the vibe his soul gives off.
Because I know that we’re going for a motorcycle ride!
This knowledge causes a switch to literally flip in my brain, and I go into full “Chark” mode, bouncing on and off of the bed, harrasing Ajax in a fit of canine angst, splitting all eardrums within a three mile radius and otherwise giving every indication that my mind has become fully unhinged. Of course, this must be accomplished in a pose unbefitting that of the future benevolent dictator of the universe, with my butt high in the air and my tail tip quivering, but do I care? Not a whiff, as I am the queen of Casa del Whackos, and such mundane concerns are far beneath me.
Will he EVER come on? Finally! He’s ready, geared up in black like some sort of angry little gremlin, and muffled by beneath the helmet I hear the most beautiful words in the English language, or any other, for that matter:
“Git on up!”
As I bound up into my chariot, even now I find it hard to imagine that a similar box once confined me. Now it takes me places I never dreamed of going, and that applies to every ride; whether across town or across the country, I always see something new, as long as I keep my eyes up, level with the horizon and my head on a swivel.
Dad thumbs the starter button and the distinct whine of the Honda inline-four singing in harmony with the thump of the exhaust triggers a responding Charlie yowl, or a “chowl”, which quickly escalates into a CHARK!; nothing excites me like going for a lean. What many don’t know is that my very name is a reference to the Honda CB motorcycles that dad and Zach were riding when they found me in the crate, as dad has always been a huge fan of the DOHC fours.
Then the music gets down to business, and the ride becomes a dance; sometimes a salsa, occasionaly a swing, but inevitably evolves into a tango, dipping and diving deep into the curves. At one point, the scrape of metal on asphalt causes the song to simultaneously leap and skip a beat as the feelers on the bike’s footpegs slip along the road’s surface like the needle on an old LP; not necessarily an imperfection in the music, but a part of the overall experience.
Imagine surfing on a black asphalt ocean, always going wide and diving deep in search of the perfect, curling wave.
Short rides are good for a quick pick- me-up, but the long rides that test your endurance are the ones that are food for your soul. Dad used to say that a ride doesn’t begin until the second tank of fuel, when the cobwebs have had time to be blown clear of the corridors of the mind; I would beg to differ. I say a ride doesn’t begin until the second day, when time and space have had time to erase a bit of the burdens that would degrace us.
Ride fast, ride far, but eventually reality beckons, and we must answer that call as well and return home. But a ride never ends, at least not with a period, but always with a question mark; before the bike even stops, we’re already thinking, “what’s next?”
Then when we roll up the driveway at the Casa and dad drops the kickstand and drags a groaning leg across the seat and waddles, Hoppalong Cassidy-like, towards the garage. I remain ensconced in my chariot for two reasons: one is that I love the smell of the hot exhaust, and the “ping” and “tick” sounds of the engine below me as they cool in the evening air.
But the real reason is that my perch aboard the bike gives me a great vantage point to spot those dastardly, disrespectful squirrels raiding the bird feeders and I can better plot my strafing run to interrupt their plunder.
It inevitably ends in failure on my part; whereas I would seek tangible evidence of our encounter in the form of squirrel flesh, I am always left with nothing but sight of insolent little squirrel bungholes bouncing into the distance, leaving nothing but tiny squirrel farts and chattering rodent giggles in their wake.
I will have my revenge, in this life or the next.
Thus sayeth the Charles.