Motorcycle Week

Because a day just isn’t enough

Source: Wikimedia Commons

I grew up in rural NH which plays host each summer to a weeklong event known as Motorcycle Week. Thousands of rotund bikers with their particular lady partners descend upon the region like a swarm of locusts. Instances of sexual harassment per-square-mile immediately quadruple while the ear-splitting muffler farts are a constant disturbance.

All the men wear the same uniform: jeans, black motorcycle boots, and t-shirts. Some dress it up with a leather vest.

I was a senior in high school the last time I was subjected to this Hellish display. A passenger in a car with three friends, we passed by a house on the event route where two rotund Neanderthals were sitting on their porch. They had a large cardboard sign propped up that read: “Show us your melons.”

I said to my friends, “Let’s go to the store and buy a bunch of melons. As we drive back by this house, we’ll launch the fruit into the air and shout, ‘You wanna see our melons?!’”

My friends were game, but with the caveat that we buy a melon tray. Whole melons, they reasoned, would be too cumbersome. So, we purchased a tray of neatly arranged slices of cantaloupe and honeydew.

As planned, three of us launched melon slices while shouting, “You wanna see our melons?!”

The Neanderthals didn’t react. I’m sure it took them several minutes to realize their lawn was littered with melon slices and connect it to what we yelled out the window. Nevertheless, it was a proud moment for me, standing up to sexual harassment.

But it would have felt better to see those men blush and look away. To take down their sign, realizing how disrespectful it was to women. To get back on their overly loud motorcycles and leave town in shame.

Auf Der Autobahn

Source: Wikimedia Commons

I don’t know how fast I was actually going on the Autobahn, because I don’t speak KPH. All I know is that as I kept pace with other cars in the left lane, it felt like I was piloting a rocket.

My husband meanwhile snoozed in the passenger seat of our rented BMW, blissfully unaware that our lives could have ended in a split second. A couple of Schrodinger’s cats we were, both alive and dead. Each time I switched lanes our bodies lurched to the side. I marveled at my husband’s ability to sleep through such a wild experience.

I’d get into the left lane to pass slower vehicles, then immediately move right again to let even more reckless drivers pass me. The freedom to go as fast as I wanted was exhilarating – and terrifying. I hadn’t anticipated ever getting to have this experience. It’s strange to think how what was novel for me is just everyday life for Germans.

As humans have started to return to normal life following the pandemic, I expected we would be a little kinder to each other. With everyone having been isolated and lonely for so long, we have an unprecedented second chance to be the best versions of ourselves. Unfortunately, as soon as we resumed commuting, we all turned back into jerks, me included.

I shout and curse at the slow-moving vehicles that refuse to take a hint and move right on the highway. At the vehicles that make a turn at only two miles an hour, clogging up the roadway. At the timid, brake-tapping drivers. At the drivers with dazed expressions and slack mouths who appear to not even be aware they are in a car or have any idea where they are going.

It’s cathartic, really, to shout at strangers from the safety of your own car. I don’t hurl insults out an open window or give the finger; my rage is kept contained within the privacy of my vehicle. I shout all the way to work. Then, having gotten that out of my system, I stroll into the office in my business casual wear like a normal, well-adjusted member of society.

What Pandemic?

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Remember that time we had a global pandemic and then as soon as the mask mandate lifted, one country invaded another? WUT?!

I naively thought that once this isolation was over, we’d all stumble out of our homes blinking in the light and going, “Wow – other humans! People I’m not related to!” We’d open our arms to the nearest stranger and give them a bear hug. Nope. No such thing.

While some of us were trying our hand at baking sourdough bread, learning a new language, or just trying to stay sane throughout the monotony of staring at the same four walls for two years, others were busy plotting world domination.

Here’s another horrifyingly naive thought I’d had perhaps just six months ago. I was pondering the history of the world and how so many regions were shaped by ongoing invasions. I told myself, “Thank goodness that doesn’t happen anymore. In a social media-connected world where everyone exists under a microscope and everything bad makes the news, no way could a marauder get away with that behavior anymore.”

Between the plague and invasions, the years 2020-2022 are shaping up to be like the Middle Ages all over again, just with smart phones, selfies, and duck lips tossed into the mix.

How about sitting around a campfire and singing “Kumbaya” together? No? Then at the very least, let’s enforce isolation again until we’re all ready to be civil.

The Follies of Femininity

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Lipstick is the Houdini of makeup. No one knows why someone would want to change the color of their mouth, least of all the lipstick itself. It would rather be anywhere other than your lips. It prefers to be smudged across your teeth, on someone else’s cheek, or on a cigarette.

One could go through an entire tube of lipstick in a day, it has to be reapplied so many times. It’s a makeup company’s dream product.

It’s ironic that while there’s nothing you can do to keep it on your lips there’s nothing you can do to remove it from a glass. I get so grossed out at restaurants when I’m served water with a stranger’s lip imprints on the edge of the cup. They need to adapt their dishwashing machines and soap to break down lipstick molecules.

While attending a women’s leadership conference, I was descending a staircase when I overheard two young women ahead of me. One laughed and said, “I’m going to fall in these shoes!” She grasped the arm of her friend to steady herself, for she was wearing the least practical footwear ever invented: stilettos.

This is what women’s liberation has earned us? The right to have our mobility impaired…at a women’s leadership conference of all places? To adorn our faces with waxy makeup that causes no end of issues for ourselves and others?

I’m all for pulling other women up with me, but not because they’re falling over in their high heels. Wear flats and dominate the room, ladies!

After spending the past couple of years indoors, where no one had to put on makeup, do their hair, or otherwise put any effort into their appearance for work, perhaps we will dress a little more sensibly as we start returning to the office.

Then again, after such a great length of time not putting any effort into our appearance, perhaps we’ll all feel compelled to return to the office as glamorous as Broadway performers who must wear the brightest colors and excessive makeup in order to be seen by the audience.

The Arc of Joan’s Journey

A brief and somewhat accurate history lesson

Source: http://www.historyanswers.co.uk

In the 1400’s, teenaged Joan of Arc went before her king. 

“Your majesty, I’ve had visions,” she said. “I’m going to lead our troops to victory and secure your throne.” 

“Yes, yes,” said the king. “But tell me, Joan – are you a virgin?” 

“Yes, your majesty, I am.” 

And so, a determined Joan set off to cut her hair under a bowl as the men of her time did and donned men’s clothing. She went into battle with the soldiers. But the authorities, suspicious that Joan was just using this “divine vision” excuse as a means of getting around with hot soldiers, were oddly preoccupied with her sexual activities. 

After the first victory Joan reported back: “Your majesty, we’ve taken the East. Success is upon us!” 

“Yes, but are you still a virgin, Joan?” 

Next victory: “Your majesty, we’ve taken the North. Success is ours!” 

“Yes, but are you still a virgin, Joan?” 

It was said that Joan blended in with the soldiers so well they didn’t view her as a sexual conquest. But no one believed her. This poor young woman was forced to undergo the world’s first OBGYN appointment to confirm that her nether regions were in fact untouched.  

Here she was going into battle – a teenager, putting herself in harm’s way – for the good of her people. What did it matter what she did in bed? 

After Joan accomplished everything she had promised, she was put to death for heresy. 

“You can’t just go running around claiming to have visions. Even when those visions are accurate!” said the authorities. “Plus – we’re pretty sure you’ve been sleeping with those hot soldiers.”