excerpt from Wicked Bitch

 

On my left shoulder, there is a small blue rose, with a banner that says HD through it. Above that rose is a tiny little 1%. The tiny, curly, pretty little symbol carries a lot more weight, significance, conversation and speculation than the dragon that covers a good half or more of the right side of my back.

There are men who call me a stupid girl, who tell me that I haven’t got the right to wear it because of lack of colors or a penis. A penis is not one of the requirements of riding a Harley Davidson. There are women that assume it means I have allowed biker clubs to take full advantage of my body. There are those who assume that a 1% means I have murdered someone, or committed a felony to belong to a club. That is not what it signifies… it means to me that I am one of the 1% of the biker population for whom my Harley is my way of life. I wear it in tribute to all the miles I have spent with my motorcycles, and the patches that have shown in the sunlight on the backs of my friends who have ridden right along beside me. The main reason I wear it is not because I feel that I am better or worse than anyone.

“I don’t own the clothes I’m wearing, and the road goes on forever”

I rode a 15 year old Sportster a hundred miles round trip to work every day for nearly a year. During that year I also rode that little Sportster right alongside a Road King with a newly rebuilt engine for every single one of the break in miles. I have sat beside the road on wet pavement in the dark with a flashlight clamped between my teeth fixing a battery cable, flinching at the lightning and thunder, trying to wipe the rain and the fear and the tears out of my eyes. I no longer notice leathered skin and calloused hands. I have seen a deer send a huge Harley flying down a cold blackened road in a shower of sparks and grinding metal… and I had to get back on a motorcycle and ride home. My husband has told me I had to choose between him and my motorcycle, and I left soon after. When I left him, I picked up my leather jacket and left on my Harley. The rest was unimportant stuff I could get later. I would not leave my bike. The sound of my Harley, any Harley, is as familiar to me as my heartbeat. There have been many, many times I have lived on corn bread and pinto beans for weeks at a time… I have gone to the bank and made a bike payment and then went home to cook 3 year old deer meat and dry biscuits. My Harley came before my groceries, my motorcycle fed my hunger. I know the way it feels to huddle beneath a tree with cold hard rain running down your neck to soak inside your leathers then drain down the crack of your ass. I know how to make my Harley crank when no one else can get it to even turn over once. I know what a McCooney is. I know the AMFs are only marking their territory. I even loved that ugly ass boat tail. I wear the scars of countless mufflers and the wrinkles from hours of sun and wind with pride. I hate helmets. I adore the smell of leather. I can drink 100 proof whiskey like most people drink coffee. I know the blessed bliss that fills your soul when the rumble of a motorcycle fills the morning, and the pink sky and effervescent sun is shining just for you and the highway. I know that I have never felt closer to God than when I am alone on a lonesome highway, experiencing life and nature in a way that leaves no doubt of His wonder and grace. I would kill in a heartbeat anyone who threatened one of my leather clad family, regardless of what it says on his or her back. I love many, many people who share my addiction to Milwaukee’s true best… beyond the colors, beyond the leather, beyond our 1%s, we are all a very loyal trustworthy family, bound together not by blood, but by asphalt. It pisses me off to read or hear ignorant assholes perceive to be the explanations of our legends and beliefs. Cop shows on television often soliloquize on what they believe the 1% stands for… “they are responsible for 99 percent of crimes.” They refer to bikers as “dirtbags” on a regular basis. It is true that some motorcycle club members have done some horrible things. In the thirteenth century, children were sacrificed for their blood to be used in Jewish holiday feasts. You don’t hear Horatio on T.V. calling all Jews dirtbags. In this century Germans manned concentration camps; that doesn’t mean all the people in Germany are murderers. If they want to make a television show about bikers, can’t they at least do a Google search and find out about Hollister? So what if some of us DO wear that 1% as a soldier’s medal of honor, a knight’s creed, a poet’s masterpiece… So what if I wear it because I know that I love my bike and my brothers in ways most people would never begin to understand. It’s a sad state of affairs when our beliefs in honor, loyalty, truth and freedom are circumspect in their virtue…. I wear a 1% because I know in my heart that I have earned it.

“But I’m not gonna let em catch me,
No, I’m not gonna let ‘em catch the midnight rider.”

I have seen little old ladies turn and refuse to go in public restrooms when they see me emerge in my leather outfitting… Having no idea I was returning home in 35 degree weather, with pneumonia, on my Harley from taking toys on a toy run to make sure orphans got gifts for Christmas. I have seen the people get up and leave restaurants because a group of wind blown leather clad “ruffians” decided to sit down and eat a hamburger. I have seen the sneers, heard the jeers, apparently even been rejected by my own mother at times because I choose to ride a motorcycle. I have been ostracized, called names, and forsaken… but I did not forget my Harley. I consider blaming it on the fact that I was raised in a body shop. I consider blaming it on the fact that I loved Fonzie when I was about 2 or 3. I consider blaming it on the bikers I have fallen in love with. But that isn’t true. I don’t want to blame my bikes on anyone… I love them. I love the chrome and the rumble and the scent and the leather and the lights. The simple fact of the matter is, I love to ride… I love the feel of the engine beneath me and the wind on my face. I love the freedom the highway offers me from many things in my life. From the bruises of childhood… from a drunk of a husband… an overbearing lover… dead ass jobs… the loss of my hearing…the loss of my health. So many of us hit the highways to escape something, so many of us seem hard or cold, not because of whom we are, but because of what we are treated like. Almost every biker I have met is a good person. They believe in God, they believe in babies, and they believe in their motorcycles. Almost every ride they make in mass is to help someone in need. They will help anyone, they laugh often and love fiercely. The day I went home from my hysterectomy, not my mother, but leathered ol’ Horace eased me into his truck out of the wheelchair at the hospital and took me home. When I need someone for something vastly difficult to ask, when there is no one else to turn to, I know I can depend on a biker to be there for me. For those of you who are “offended” by us, or think we are crazy, you are narrow minded heathens who judge books far too often by the covers. When we annoy you with our loud pipes as we zoom down the highway, we are likely going to help raise money for diabetics, or muscular dystrophy, or taking toys to orphans. For those who often have refused to acknowledge the fact that I am indeed a voice of the highway, it’s you who is missing out, not me. I have a family. They wear leather, tattoos and scraggly beards… They will take good care of me no matter what, and never once have any of them had to check to see how many bruises they left on my skin.

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