Friday, August 29, 2008

What a Racket

In my last post, I predicted I would not be writing about the inside of the Harley showroom. Forget that. When all your salt-of-the-earth husband wants for his birthday is Harley stuff, you go. I went today.

When I pulled up to the Harley dealership in my quiet, conservative Honda, I drove past two large motorcycles—and here, you can tell I am not into this, because I can’t even tell you what they looked like, their colors, model numbers, or maybe motorcycle models have names like Accord or Civic (haha), I don’t know. Both cycles were being hovered over by my unanimous vote for Harley-Davidson poster-child and his biker babe. His tawny, craggy face was haloed in snow-white cotton-candy hair. His beer belly bulged under a black shirt with the silver-winged, orange-flamed, Harley-Davidson logo. His bulging bicep boasted the same design in tattoo form. Both he and his lady wore heavy-duty black nylon pants with wide day-glow orange stripes. For night riding? I'm not sure, as I'm clueless about this new world I'm just setting first foot in since Robert began riding a Harley a few months ago.

From my locked car in the spot furthest from any activity, I watched folks come and go for a while. Most were men. One scooted around in an electric wheelchair. I hoped this was not due to a motorcycle accident, a topic that now strikes dread in my heart. In contrast, the intimidating thought of entering a Harley showroom was not so bad. Okay, clutching Robert’s one-inch-thick glossy catalog of Harley-branded accessories to my chest, I plodded toward the wide glass doors. Dressed in my delicate Danskin exercise capris, I felt out of place as I traded places in the doorway with a rather burly woman in Harley T-shirt and black jeans. Whoa … I might as well have entered a museum on Mars.

Timidly I wandered through displays of gifts and toys. Biker Brew coffee. Birthstone heart bracelets. Inch-and-a-half-long dangling, silver, logo-wing earrings. Orange and black logo-flame decals. Neon logo-lamps. Be-logoed beer steins. Motorcycle-decorated photo frames. Stuffed animals wearing Harley-logo clothes. Wooden motorcycle rocking horses (okay, these were majorly cool). Vast logo-clothing section for men, women, and children.

Sidling up to a cash register at a sleek, circular counter, I laid Robert’s catalog next to the ad for applying for a Harley-Davidson Visa card. A grinning young woman leapt to my aid, but then directed me to the Parts Department for anything in the particular catalog I had. (You mean there are more catalogs? This one is an inch thick, for pete’s sake. How could there be more Harley stuff that’s not in this catalog? No wonder Robert won’t carry his hog key on anything but an official hog keychain. Please tell me they don’t make Harley underwear.)

On my way to the Parts Department, I passed sales cubicles reminiscent of an auto showroom. Beyond them, in the back, I could see a sea of chrome handlebars above waves of shiny bike bodies. Above the sales cubicles hung huge posters like the sepia-toned World War II photo of the GI and the beautiful brunette smiling above his shoulder. They were of course, zooming around on a motorcycle. The caption read: The Mighty Harley-Davidson. The mighty mystique makers, I would say.

At the Parts Department counter, I wondered if perhaps I should change my poster-child vote. If the white-cotton-candy-haloed man outside in the parking lot had embodied the everyman’s-midlife-crisis stereotype, the man who waited on me was my idea of the hell’s angel stereotype. His head, from the crown of his buzz-cut to his neck, if he had had one, was red. His most prominent tattoo, when I finally had the guts to look at the details, made me blush and swallow hard. If I’d encountered this man in a dive, I would have had to remind myself to breathe as I backed out of the bar. Then I would have run for my life. (I tried to imagine this guy as yet another Harley stereotype, a salt-of-the-earth, gentle giant nuzzling his precious child, or even riding the largest, loudest be-teddy-beared Harley in the Toys for Tots parade. Really I did. No luck. The beer-guzzling image stuck.) Few words were exchanged. He barely grunted as I pointed to the catalog items Robert had circled. He just wrote part numbers down on a slip of paper and lumbered away.

While waiting, I soaked up more Harley ambiance—screamin’ guitars piercing the air, a rack selling at least ten different magazines for bikers (my favorite title was In the Wind), I-Pass Glasses (those Harley folks think of everything). The backdrop of this area said it all: 15 different chrome tailpipes mounted on the wall. One type of tailpipe will not do the job? Poor Robert, to be married to a gal who just doesn’t get it.

I will say, however, that after exiting the Harley showroom, I was mighty thirsty for the cold beverage I’d brought with me in the car. So I sank into the safe seat of my meek mild Honda and twisted the jagged metal cap off my bottle of diet sparkling black-cherry (organic) green tea with my bare hands, without even wincing at the two puncture wounds in my palm.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A Day of Firsts

Today marked the closest I’ve been to a Harley dealership. From my spot outside the service department, I heard enough motorcycles sounding as though they’d eaten way too many baked beans that I don’t know if you’ll ever read about my first time inside a Harley showroom or paraphernalia shop or backward-bandana-tying classrooms or whatever else they have there.

More firsts: breakfast at Lambs’ Farm and long, fun visit to their pet shop, including my introduction to a wide variety of cross-breed dogs like Morkies and several names ending in –Poo. (There’s got to be some symbolism there.) Today was the first time I’ve worn my new aqua shirt without accidentally squirting a mocha frappĂ© on it. First time I’ve shown up at the cafĂ© for the French meetup and no one else came. Today I harvested my very first homegrown garlic—five whole bulbs—and remembered to plant a fall crop of lettuce.