Event: Rode a Harley Davidson Motorcycle
Saturday morning I drove to Manhattan, KS to attend the first football game of the season for my alma mater, K-State. Shortly after arriving (and after doing just a little tailgating), my friends and I made our way through the parking lot towards the entrance of the stadium. It was then we were reminded that today was "Harley Day". This is a K-State tradition 13 years in the making where motorcycle-owning alumni can sign up, and if chosen, be a part of the elite group that gets to "kick off" the game with a hell's angels of an entrance. Right before the teams take the field, 100 burly, tattooed, bearded, muscle men enter the stadium one-by-one revving the engine of their Harleys as they circle the inside of the stadium.
Generally, most Hog riders have wives or girlfriends riding with them. Most of them, anyway. As we headed towards the entrance of the stadium, we noticed all of the motorcycles were lined up right in front of us, preparing for their big entrance. Standing next to them were the motorcylcle riders, either covered in leather or purple - from head to steel toe. As we walked by, my friend leaned over and said, "You should see if any of these guys need a partner to ride in with. Ask around and maybe someone will let you ride with them." Brilliant! I thought. As I stared down the long path of extremely intimidating bikes (and men), I jumped in and asked the first big, scary, tattooed man I saw. I sweetly walked up and said, "Excuse me sir, do you have a partner to ride with?" No sooner did the words escape my mouth, a woman I'm sure they affectionately call "Big Bertha" walked towards me. Her sleeveless, tasseled, leather vest brought tears to my eyes and I quickly made my way down the line. The next guy I asked had a beard that would make ZZ Top jealous and I'm pretty sure he had only 4 original teeth, but I asked anyway. Unfortunately, again, the answer was no.
My third and final attempt was almost not meant to be. My friend was standing and pointing to this guy that looked like a city boy who had just hopped on a motorcycle. He was totally normal. No leather. No fringe jackets. No spiky helmet. Just a purple t-shirt and a backwards K-State hat. Right as I ran up to him, he fired up his engine and wouldn't you know it, he was the next one in line to go. The traffic police was signaling for him to go but I grabbed his shoulder and yelled in his ear, "DO YOU HAVE A PARTNER?" He of course couldn't hear me, so I attempted to do sign language, but failed miserably. I then pointed to the back seat and raised my hands as if to say "Nobody's there - how about me?" He nodded. Before I knew it, I was being whisked away. On a Harley. Without a helmet. With a total stranger. Isn't it funny that when we were little we were taught not to talk to strangers? See, my parents should have been a little more specific. "Don't talk to strangers on motorcycles" might have been a better lesson and one that would have kept me from doing what I just did.
But I didn't care! The wind was in my hair, the engine was loud, we were going fast (but not too fast, mom) and that's when I quickly realized, I don't know what to hold on to. Do I wrap my arms around this total stranger? What if he has man boobs? Do I hold onto them? Do I grasp his shoulders like a masseuse? Do I put my fingers in his back pockets and hold on for dear life? In my rush to just manage to get on the motorcycle, we didn't have time to go over the instructions. In the end, I settled on holding onto the back of his seat. It was about the size of a small tortilla, but my little fingers wrapped around that thing so tight, I held onto it like a Chipotle burrito. This burrito was saving my life.
As he and I made our way towards the stadium entrance, we had a few moments where we were able to actually speak. That's when I learned he is a Mechanical Engineer, a fellow grad just a few years older than me, and appears to be single. (No ring). Assuming my hand placement was safe, I jokingly said to him, "I hope it's ok to put my hands here - I don't want your wife or girlfriend to get mad." (Yes I was fishing, but let's just stop right here. Why am I even talking? Could someone please put me out of my misery? In general, comments like this get me nowhere). His cryptic response was, "You're fine." What the heck does that mean? Does it mean your pregnant wife is in the stands, but it's fine because I could outrun her? Or is it because your girlfriend is watching this on TV and won't make it to the stadium in time to kick my a$$? Or, is it fine because you are certifiably single and while you'd rather me put my arms around your waist we're just not there yet? I can't believe I'm even worrying about this right now. As my mind continues to run through all the possibilities, he tells me I need to move my feet from their current position because the exhaust pipe will burn the rubber off my shoes. Oh sweet Jesus. I have realized the threat of death by falling off and hitting my head, but I hadn't thought about the third degree burns my heels might get. What else was I doing wrong? Before I could double check any other body part placement, off we go...
Right before we entered the stadium, he leaned over and said he would keep his hands on the handlebars (thank you, Lord) but that I was in charge of waving to the crowd. No problem. This is usually how I make an entrance anyway. As the engines roared, we entered the stadium to 51,000 cheering fans. I shook hands, kissed babies and waved like I was the princess of the freaking world. Seriously, there was finger pointing and waving, fist bumps, arm pumps, roof raising, gun shooting, peace signs, thumbs up and #1 finger pointing. Oh yeah, I was a natural. I'm pretty sure people either thought I was the Homecoming Queen or running for office. It was amazing.
As we made our way around the stadium track, we came to a place where the motorcycles stopped to take a minute to let the engines roar. My fragile ear drums were not prepared for this, so my double action fist pumping turned to a single wave while slyly plugging one ear with my other hand. During the chaos of it all, I leaned over to say, "Holy !@*%$ this is loud!" but he didn't hear me and now I can't hear him. Or anyone else for that matter.
As we exited the stadium, I found myself still waving (I'm pretty sure he told me I could stop, but I didn't hear him) until we pulled back into the parking lot. There, I thanked my new friend for the ride of a lifetime and, (let's blame it on the brain rattling engine revving part) I asked him for his home address so I could send him a thank you card. WTF? What is my deal? Really? A thank you card? Diving in to save myself, I quickly said, "I mean, I'll look you up on facebook and you can send me your address." Ok. Did I fall off the bike, hit my head, and not remember it? What is happening? Puzzled, he stared at me, as if to encourage me to keep going. After taking a moment, I said, "how about I get your number and I'll text you, then you can text me your email address." Oh. My. God. This is a sinking ship. Reluctantly, he gave me his number (probably thinking he needs to get a restraining order), I thanked him and walked away.
The next day I sent him a text, thanked him again and he sent me his email address. I then emailed him a couple of pictures I took and thanked him one last time. I then cyber stalked him and learned his facebook relationship status is "single." Ok, I'll stop...