Mar 4, 2005

Soccer hooligans and high sides

My wife genuinely disturbs me sometimes.

See, she can come out of NOWHERE with lines that just completely toss me for a loop. This evening, after watching a tres' cool commercial from Nike (the 'Warriors' clip, with all the bad-ass masks) she told me that, if one wished, one could get a Manchester United credit card. I calmly pointed out to her that neither of us had even watched a soccer game (sorry, 'football' for you from the Old Country) and I asked if she was going to knock over some dustbins in Kensington. She began ardently demanding her right to be a soccer hooligan, threatened to "kick my bleedin' 'ead in," and that's when I decided that discression was the better part of not having my bleedin' 'ead kicked in and left.

Not fast enough, however, for me to miss hearing her tell me that Cracker was a big rugby fan, and was a staunch supporter of the New Zealand All Blacks. I actually had to look it up to see that they were for real.

My head hurts.

O--btw, I can't seem to find a link for a hacked version of the commercial, but I gather from trustworthy sites that it's called "Mask" and it was directed and shot by Tarsem Singh, of "The Cell" and REM video fame. Craziness. If you happen to catch it, enjoy--VERY surreal.

What I was getting at was multi-fold:


  • This morning's near wreck
  • The New Job
  • Some recollections, and
  • Finding and lighting a damned cigar


So. You guys sit back and enjoy.

Okay. Cigar going. Habanos Puros Torpedo, EMS (English Market Selection, or Natural) wrapper. Not my preferred, I much rather maduros, but hey, we take what we can get.

The New Job. Yup, I got it. All that worrying for nothing. But then again, it IS my worrying that makes the world go around. If I didn't worry about it, the sun wouldn't rise in the morning. I start a week from Monday, so be watching for something around then about me worrying about my new job that my daughter (the older one) got for me. And I'll be worrying about the sun not rising tomorrow, so no one worry that it won't.

Which it didn't this morning, which makes that a nice link to the first item on the list, my near wreck.

Not that I had stopped worrying, it's just that the blinking fog was SOOOO thick this morning at 5:30 am and I was stupid enough to take the bike. I didn't KNOW it was foggy, didn't have enough eye focus to see the weatherbug warning, so I ventured out. See, I've ridden in fog before. No big deal, just go slower and use low beams, and hunker down behind the windshield to keep from getting wet. I was running late this morning, so when I stepped outside in full gear and saw that damned flying water, I thought for a split second that I needed to get back inside and get rid of helmet and swag and take the truck, but I knew that if I did I would be another ten minutes late, so I decided to rough it.

Keep in mind that we live very near a bayou (for you Northers out there, a bayou is like a drainage canal, only natural, muddier, and has more large predators) and that makes the fogs that much thicker. The key here is not to follow Bayou Rapides Road (so named because it follows Bayou Rapides) but to take the first exit up to Hwy 28 W and fly straight as an arrow into town. Which I did.

Turning onto the little windy connecting road to 28W, I had already wiped the mist off my visor two or three times, and it being so freaking cold I was also dealing with a lot of inside condensation, which usually can be remedied by opening the visor to the cool air, thus dissipating the moisture. This doesn't work when the outside humidity is greater than that inside my own body, so I'm half blind and wondering if it's too late to drive back home and get the truck warmed up.

Did I mention that this road is very winding? Very. In the daylight I have taken it as fast as 85 mph, and it's a marvelous trip. In the fog this morning I took it at about 30, and still almost managed to pull a wilson. Numbed by cold and snowblind in the fog, with my inside visor completely fogged up and my internal navagation system messed up (I had NO idea which curve I was in on the road, could see NO landmarks) I suddenly felt the wheels leave the road. I was on the shoulder, my arse started chewing a hole through the seat (at this point the Pucker Factor was a high 4) and I started scrabbling for my visor catch so I could see just where the F I was.

Fumbling for the visor put the PF up to 5, and the constant jolting and scrabbling, plus sure and certain knowledge that there was, to my right, a ditch and then a barbed wire fence pushed it up to 6, and made it imperative that I open that godd**mn visor. Which I did, about seventeen miles later. Now keep in mind that I am trying to stay steady on the throttle, because if I'm going ditchward I want to do so steadily, without a lot of throttle jumping and stuff, which would equal a for-sure fall, and with enough inertia to either get me back up the embankment or at least staying vertical in the ditch until I could slew her to a stop. Visor suddenly opened, I realised that fortunately I was still on a straightaway, so I had ample time to plan.

Okay. On the shoulder, probably destroying very expensive plastic fairings, sure and certain knowledge that I'm about to run over a sign post or a huge rusty nail or some errant livestock, I realise that it's time to get the bike back on the road.

Now keep in mind that this is Louisiana. The roads are not our highest priority. Drinking and cow tipping and marrying our first cousins is, so the shoulder was rough and, quite frankly, had about a foot's difference between ground height and roadbed. I knew with sure and certain knowledge that if I were to try and ease the front tire back onto the road, ala the safe procedure for a four-wheeled vehicle, the front wheel would catch suddenly, stay lined up with the shoulder, and I would end up sliding down the shoulder sans bike. Prior experience told me this, and likewise prior XP told me that I needed to get the tire fairly perpendicular to the ledge so I could hit it as square as possible, to give the tire maximum bite.

So, PF reaching a nice 7.5, I stood up a bit on the pegs to minimize weight on the back tire and to minimize shock to my spine, reared back a little bit, and shoved the clip-ons right. (Countersteering--it's a bike thing.) My dear obliged me by performing a beautiful jete' back onto the road and started heading for the opposite ditch as fast as she could. I can at this point tell you that the PF was racing toward 10, and I felt an impending highside* coming on as the tires grabbed the road again.

I guess my hindbrain took over at this point, because my forebrain was racing toward my ass, screaming and yelling for it to let go of the upholstery and help, and did it know how much a new Second Look Seatskin cost? Some reptilian part of me that used to ride motorcycles back in the Hondazoic Era made me twitch the clipons to the left and I sat down hard on the seat and scootched way the hell off the left side and sort of down, the back wheel barked on the damp road, and she straightened up and got all neat and prim again.

I'm still pulling vinyl out of my arse. I know I pulled that save out of there.

And before you start in, syster or any of the rest of you, about the perils of motorcycling--don't. *s* I know full well the risks, this was one of them. I could just as easily ran Rita into that ditch, because her defrosters work about as well as my visor does, and I would have been going a fair bit faster, too, with that false security that four wheels gives. Me, I'm proud as a new father that I have enough learning built-in now that I saved it rather than pulling a squid and ending up walking to work.

I'm not even going to tell you about the insane old man that tried to force me off the road on Macarthur Dr. because he was mad at me for passing him. People like him need to be removed from the general population and fired out of a cannon up George W's arse.

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* A highside--an unplanned get off when the rider is tossed over the motorcycle; as opposed to a low-side, when the rider falls under the bike, or down so that the bike falls on top of you.

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