My standards of transportation are not high. My first vehicle was a Plymouth Fury, so large its sheer mass distorted the moon’s orbit. I’ve driven tractors, dirt bikes, and an antique Ford Bronco that got twelve miles to the gallon, when it actually ran. But there’s something I need to share about transportation that I’ve never been able to understand.

I was reminded of it today as I was filling up my current hooptie, a gas-guzzling van. Can you say seventy-five dollars for low octane? Suddenly, it was as if a grenade exploded three stalls away, somewhere behind me. The shock wave bounced off the canopy above and shook my chest. I dropped low for cover. Immediately, automatic weapons fire poured in from the same direction. The Exmore Royal Farms was under terrorist attack. Must’ve been after their coffee stock. The sanctions were taking their toll.

I couldn’t see them from my vantage, cowering behind a tire, hoping a strafing run didn’t slice me two. After a few seconds I braved lifting my head and a woman in yellow sundress walked from the store holding her son’s hand, sucking a blue icee. What was she doing? Must be deaf – walking right toward the firestorm!

Then it stopped.

I peered across my hood and… nothing. Just two bloated, middle-aged men wrapped in black leather.

Now, the image you have in your head says a lot about where your mind is. These men were sitting atop chunks of swollen rubber and chrome. Still not getting the picture? Let me help: Harley Davidson.

The allure of the hog. That’s what I don’t understand. Why do men lust after them so? Is it the grenade-booming exhaust? The jackhammer ride of the suspension? I mean, isn’t Harley Davidson to motorcycles as Lady Gaga is to music? Aren’t they loud? Flashy? And kind of… filthy?

So, armed only with intellectual curiosity, I’ve spent years (slight overstatement for effect… maybe I’ve spent a minute or two) trying to figure out exactly what’s appealing about a machine that resembles a ’72 Cadillac convertible on two wheels.

I listened intently to the two men’s conversation. It was in code.

“Where’d you get your huzimakallas polished like that?”

“Them? Oh, got ‘em from Jackie’s Hell Pit off Rte. 92. What about them leather gittyups hangin’ from your smackerdabs?”

“Naked Gear Lube. They ain’t just about slick stuff. They sell all kinds of whizzycullits and thingerdos.”

After ten minutes of this, my head hurt, and the van’s tank was still only half full. I’ve not even mastered the English language, so listening to these men in their native tongue was painful. They eventually exchanged pleasantries and one fired his machine back up. He thundered off, throttling wide open to at least thirty-five miles per hour – though it sounded like he should have been going eleven times that fast. Despite seismographs in Alaska registered the event, you could have clocked his progress with a sundial. The other man turned his head, gleaming, watching his buddy boom away.

That’s it! I’d finally figured it out. Harley men like impressing other men. OK, everyone try to keep an open mind. I guess if that’s your thing… But I can already read the responses:

“Some women like Harleys too.”

Right… I’m sure many women initiate that conversation, maybe sitting in their husband’s lap, saying something like, “You know how you’re always pushing me to spend more money, to find creative ways to get rid of it? So, I was thinking, maybe we could buy Harleys. I’ve always wanted my own since Susan got her ’78 Electra-Glide. They cost as much as a car and get even worse gas mileage. We could go on trips together, as long as we don’t pack more than a shoebox, and get off sore and irritable. Then we could soak in a hot tub and pick bugs out of each other’s teeth. It’ll be bonding.”

I hate to say it, but even though Eve may have taken the first bite of the forbidden fruit, the blame for the Harley Davidson pandemic rests with us men.

“Pandemic is a bit of an overstatement, don’t you think?”

No. I’ve never overstated anything in my entire life. Ever.

Don’t you know that Harley Davidson is a conspiracy? Their stock is 99% owned by audiologists, who’re making a mint on hearing aids, selling them to hog drivers and their neighbors. So, what’s your elected representative doing about this racket (pun intended)? Lining their pockets. It’s well known that the audiologist lobby is so big it makes the NRA’s budget look like they’re funded by a lemonade stand.

So, guys, when’s it going to stop? Really, when is gaudy too much? We’re too easily wooed by shiny things, trying to one-up each other, even if only subconsciously. My struggle may not be with Harleys, but it’s there, believe me.

But someone will ask, “Aren’t you scared you’re kindling the rage of Harley owners everywhere?”

Well, the ones I’m scared about can’t read. Or they’re property of the penal system. Plus those guys are big enough to take a joke. The others bought their Harley during a mid-life crisis and will eventually grow out of it, selling their bike to the next forty-something. I’m just helping them along. Think of it as my contribution toward a more confident society.

So, hop on that that hog, turn down those hearing aids, rev it till the windows in my van implode, and enjoy driving into the sunset while you still care. Oh, and don’t forget to keep your mouth closed for bugs.

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