[MauiTime, — June 2, 2011 — Volume 14; Issue 50]
by Anu Yagi (@anuheayagi on Twitter)
“I don’t want a pickle / I just want to ride my motorcycle.” — Arlo Guthrie, “The Motorcycle Song (Significance of the Pickle)”
If it wasn’t already official, it is now: I’m a bitch. And, apparently, a “phenomenal” one.
I’m sure my friend Chuck Light—who on Memorial Day took me on my first-ever motorcycle ride—was just being nice when, after our adventure, he called me a “phenomenal back seat rider.” I interpret this to mean, “Kudos for managing to not fall off.” But, being the kind of person with an all-too-short list of things I’m good at, I’m eager to add any bullet points I can. (For those keeping track at home, so far I’ve got: Making a fool of myself; drinking coffee; occasional hyperbole; and now, riding bitch.)
Chuck and I rendezvous in the parking lot of the Upcountry Longs and he hands me a full-face helmet. My belly is all nerves, clinching like a Venus Fly Trap, so I’m blathering even more than usual. I may end up a decent bitch, but I start out as a scaredy cat.
With a punch to my crown, I smoosh on the helmet. Chipmunk Cheek Champion. “I feel like I’m going into space,” I say. I thought it was funny, but Chuck doesn’t laugh. My ego hopes it’s because he can’t hear me through the mask. It must be lonely, being an astronaut.
Kicking my leg out like I’m mounting a horse, I wonder how my ass is supposed to fit on that tiny ledge of a back seat. As I wiggle in and my feet find the foot pegs, Chuck says, “You only have to remember one thing: When I lean, lean with me.”
Just like that, we’re off on our way, Southbound on Kula Highway. Hell yeah! With every inch I feel two-wheel addiction creeping like a clinging vine. “Hot dang! I gotta get me one of these!” I yee-haw in my head.
The journey is straight for a ways, until we pass the Harold Rice Memorial Park and the road starts to curve like it’s every woman.
Is he leaning? Should I lean now? Am I leaning too much? Am I leaning at all? This one rule is turning out to be a lot of work. But poor Chuck has the worst of it, hauling my ass around while managing a cool, speedy ride (I don’t think my own dad would have been so carefully conscientious—which says a lot.)
So I try to think of it like dancing (I don’t dance, but I’ve seen it on TV), where one person leads but synchronicity is the key. And speaking of dancing, I can’t figure out where to put my hands. His shoulders? Waist? It’s like I’m a fifth grader confusedly ad-libbing at Sadie Hawkins. (Hating myself for not having read up on bitch protocol, I decide holding onto his waist is less prudish.)
But back to me being phenomenal. I may not be, but the world is, and it’s especially so on a motorcycle. Enveloped by everything—the air above, the earth below—the experience is just short of flying. My beloved stomping grounds—roads I’ve ridden more than any other—are rendered anew. I’m mad at myself for not having done this sooner.
Perhaps it’s unabashed exhilaration, but roller coaster wind whips the tears right out of my ducts. We go so far as the concrete-skirted ravine in Kahikinui, just as the road starts to get bumpy. Pausing to stretch, I find getting off a bike is like getting off a trampoline. Every moping step sighs for the woefulness of mere walking.
On the way back, we stop at the Ulupalakua Winery for a tasting, a take-home bottle and an ill-advised cigar. Leaving, I squish on the helmet—this time more deftly and with a little less tourniquet-ing of my cheeks. It’s streaked with crimson and saffron bug guts; I imagine each blot as a head on a stake outside a road warrior’s fortress. For one of a few times in my life, I feel bad ass.
A tourist couple looks on as we ride off, their envy no figment of my imagination. So long, bitches! ■
I WAS TOO BUSY NOT DYING TO TAKE MANY PICTURES, BUT HERE ARE A FEW: