Jeff and I hunkered down at our favorite watering hole Wes-Man’s the other day. It’s just north of Cartersville, off I-75 at the Harley Davidson exit. You head east a few miles until you get to White, Georgia. The wood clad restaurant has a waterwheel on its side and an old 1940’s truck out front that Wes paints messages on every day: anniversaries, birthdays, benefits, even wedding proposals. Inside the restaurant you can buy a Tee shirt that says on it: “I got my name on the truck.” iffen, of course, you did. There are only about 10 tables, one reserved for Elvis, and the décor is rather eclectic with old license plates, stuffed animals, newspaper clippings, photo pages from 1970’s high school yearbooks and a few miniatures of Disney characters. Up on a shelf I spotted poor Woody from Toy Story in the jaws of some stuffed animal; Buzz Lightyear was nowhere in sight. Clear plastic bags with water and shiny pennies in them hang from the ceiling. Every time we ask we get a different explanation of what they’re for.
I was having the Hamburger Steak and Jeff the Teriyaki Pork Chops. Amid bites Jeff announces, too loudly for my liking, “I go a new black bra.”
“Shush” I say maybe too sharply, and look around to see if anyone’s staring. Thank heavens they weren’t. I continued: “Look bud, I don’t want to hear about these personal proclivities of yours. Just keep them to yourself.”
“Har, har,” he laughed in his snarly way and stared me down. “I don’t like your insinuations there bub and it ain’t none of your business anyway but the bra that I got goes on the front fairing of the bike to protect it against stone chips and bugs. Sundance’s wearing it, not me.”
I shivered a bit. “But why do you have to call it a bra? Why not just call it a fairing protector, or something?”
He let out a sigh. “Gene, real bikers call it what they want. They don’t care what other people think.”
I looked out the window and searched for his bike. I had yet to see it today. He had parked on a different side of the restaurant than I had. I was late and when I arrived he was sitting in the rocking chair outside the front door waiting for me, left eye cocked up shaking his head. But now I could see his bike, a bright yellow Harley with a black front. To be honest it looked like a bumble bee but I didn’t want to tell him that. Jeff can get a bit sensitive at times, especially when there’s a high pollen count. But of course I had to tell him the truth the way real pals always do: “It looks real nice there pardner.” I said.
He smiled and nodded.
We talked more about our plans for the trip, mainly about our days in LA visiting with my daughter and her husband, Saturday Bill. We stretched the coffee-stained map out across the table and started pointing with our forks at different possible routes home, discussing their merits.
“Wonder where Kevin might hook up with us?” Jeff said as he stretched back up. Kevin Grigsby, our good buddy, is hoping to join us for part of the trip, but he’ll be in a car. Last year the three of us took a 2000 mile bike ride from Atlanta to Panama City Florida to New Orleans. It was a great trip. We dodged a tornado, went to a casino, ate in some great restaurants and Jeff got a new tattoo. But back to Kevin. One of his many doctors gave him the title “the luckiest, unlucky motorcycle rider ever” in honor of Kevin’s exploits last August when he managed to drop his bike, land on his head and break part of his neck. He made an amazing recovery, thank God, and he’s back to his own strange version of normal again, except for when the metal pin in his neck sets off the metal detectors at the airport.
“Once we get our route figured out,” I replied, “We’ll send it to Kevin and see where he can join us.”
We sat back down and finished our meal. Jeff, always the perceptive one, said: “Bub, you seemed to get overly flustered when I mentioned the bra. Something wrong?
“Nah” I replied, “Just brought back a memory.”
“I told you how they used to laugh at me over in Northern Ireland when I said things that they thought were funny.”
“You mean like the time you were talking about your pants to your mother- in- law and she thought you were discussing your underwear? Har, har, har!” He added.
“Yep, I was always getting things wrong and misunderstanding things.”
A big grin came over his face. “Fess up bud, tell me about the bra. What did you do?”
“Well a few years ago I went to a store in Coleraine to buy my wife a new bra and the woman at the counter said to me: “What bust?”
I wasn’t sure what she meant but I replied: “Nothing, I think it just wore out.”