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As a younger man, I was a bit of a bastard, I'll admit it.

I was pulling up to an organic market similar to a Whole Foods/Sprouts market in the Bay Area. I have some hippy in my psychology having been raised by a couple of Brits who really dug Haight Ashbury and fed him with carob as a child.

And as I pulled in to the market, I was riding one of a series of British bikes. This one was a Triumph chopper, 750cc of mean 1970s race bike in a 375lb package. Sounds nasty, and rode like a boneshaker. Also, air cooled.

The reason why Triumph and Harley Davidson bikes have finned engines is that they exchange heat through the air. No water jacketing, no radiator, no cooling system except forward motion. And it was summer, so the air was hot as two rats fucking in a wool sock

And as the kickstand was down and I was stepping off, granola mom was like "Oooh, Tyler*! Want to play on the motorcycle? Vroom vroom!"

And I looked over at her and shook my head. "Don't touch it." I was emphatic, and straight to the point. I wasn't in the mood right then to talk to people and just wanted to say my bit and be done with it.

Two things I knew for sure about little Tanner* the moment I clapped eyes on that son of hers. One, he'd never even remotely tasted gluten, and two, he had never been told "No". This was the kind of mom who made sure that her kiddo never learned things that could curb his creativity, self-esteem or curiosity about the world. Like manners, personal space, an inside voice, or consideration for other people.

I made eye contact with Hunter*, and was pretty clear with him. "You can look at it, but stay away from it, and DO NOT TOUCH IT."

Little Blake*'s look said it all. He was not used to being told what to do, especially by the kind of guy his daddy told what to do and hired and fired for looking at him wrong at his Big Important Bay Area Tech Job where he drives a McLaren and has "fireside" chats with his sleeves rolled up to his elbows, and people like me have pagers and are expected to constantly be on call. And probably did. But joke's on him, I'd already just been laid off by that kind of person, because God Forbid the stock options don't stretch to another couple of yachts for that class of person with some of us still being barely gainfully employed. You could see the privilege crackling off his brand new crocs all the way to his fifty dollar haircut. Rules aren't for people like him, they're for people like me.

About forty five seconds into my sojourn inside the store, I heard the scream.

I headed outside, and sure enough, little Pepper* was clutching his severely burnt hand, the howl being not just of extreme pain but also incredible moral outrage. Consequences weren't supposed to happen to people who could buy their way out of them, damn it!

I'm not sure if the cow let her son smack his hand against my bike out of spite, I'd prefer to think of it as the child smugly spoilt bastarding his way towards it by degrees. "No, you cannot go near it, the man said." "Okay, you can stand near it, but don't touch it." "Okay, but ONE FINGER TOUCH."

Either way, what the kid learned was that an internal combustion engine on a motorcycle, and the pipes attached to same, reach about eight hundred degrees Fahrenheit. The reason I'd told the spoilt little one percent fucker to stay the hell off my collection of shiny chrome and minimalist wiring is that the damn thing gets incredibly hot, especially in stop and go Bay Area traffic, in the middle of summer. I wasn't wearing combat boots and jeans in the middle of summer because I felt like being contrarian with my fashion.

He also learned that the laws of physics don't give a shit how much money you make, the moment you stick your hand against something that hot, you're going to Chef Paul Prudhomme your fingers and turn them blackened and Cajun.

I stormed out to see her about to unleash her Mama Bear bullshit on me and beat her to the punch by screaming "WHAT THE FUCK LADY? ARE YOU STUPID, DEAF, RETARDED OR SIMPLY INEPT?"

Luckily a guy standing by was like "Ey man, I saw you tell her not to touch it, amigo. I got your back, bro."  She seethed. She knew if the shit went down, there were witnesses that I had told her to leave my property alone, and she had not done so, 10000% her fault.

And I high fived him. "Hey, you want a Coke?"

"Sure, man!"

And off me and my new friend for the day walked over to the nearby convenience store to cool down, with the mom racing her kid to the hospital in the background.

As the Buddha once said: "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear".

 


 

*Not his real name

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