Countersteering: Motorcycle Show, 4.0


Friday, December 11th was really nice in NYC. We had lunch on the roof terrace at the Whitney Museum sunny and 65 degrees. I had just seen some vivid, expressive paintings by an American named Archibald Motley. As an African American, he could seamlessly mix in the thriving black sections of Chicago and elsewhere painting the vibrant social scenes of the 1930s. Up on the Museum's roof terrace, who knew that a "cheddar toast with green tomato jam" could taste so good. In Marlboro, I think we call these things grilled cheese sandwiches, and consider them comfort food. Pretty much everything was comfortable on that roof.

But the real reason to be in the City was the annual motorcycle show. We got there a few minutes early to find two hundred (mostly) guys ready to surge into their dreams. A quick inspection indicated that most of these people dreamed of Wisconsin, the home of Harley Davidson. The logo was on everything from socks to jackets. Everyone was in a good mood with lots of deferential, "No, you go first" exchanges as we self-herded toward the entry. There was no horrific stampede, no screaming, and no trampled Honda riders.

Four new bike models drew me this year, but I also noticed some interesting social interactions. According to the statistics, 20 percent of all riders are female, but I guessed that maybe ten percent of the this year's visitors were women. Given their minority status, and perhaps indicative of the modest collective IQ of us male attendees, female behavior could attract attention, wanted or not. Conversely, if a female were a savvy vendor, she could get most males to spend all their money, and maybe all they would ever have.

Lots of people sit on a bike to see how it feels, and as I've mentioned previously, it's kind of like way too many dogs with way too few fire hydrants given all the leg lifting that goes on in the process of getting on the machines. I am neurotically careful when I do this. What if I knock the damn thing over? Getting off is the worst: what if I kick the seat or don't get the side stand back right? Talk about unwanted attention!

Dropping them must happen, because this year, many bikes were on vertical stands .anybody, even a performing seal with a ball, could hop on and off. One of the ten percenters was perched and beaming on a big Victory motorcycle with her "coach." At least that's what it said on his shirt. Lots of Iphone film makers were hard at work recording the sitting.

I was almost tackled by a woman who proceeded to clean my glasses with one of three products designed to allow me to connect to a new reality. She was really good. She only cleaned one lens, gave them back to me, and waited for me to walk in circles. I admit that it was like having cataract surgery. "$28 for the three." "Umm ." "Just for you, $20." "Uh I donno," and I started to move. "Just make sure you come back to me." I paused. Something had just happened in my reptilian mid-brain. Males are hard-wired for this kind of stuff, and she knew it.

The real show stealers were the Ducati women. This year, they were in black, not red, and the skirts were mid-thigh instead of mid-cheek. With their five inch heels, they were eye-to-eye with their male prey. I watched one of them in action. She was talking about the bike's four fueling modes, and it involved a lot of shoulder and arm touching of the victim. It was over in a second, like an orb-weaving spider and a trapped fly. The guy went limp and was nodding like a bobble toy. He was ready to buy them all.

I just love this show.

Bob Engel lives in Marlboro with his motorcycles, wife, and cat.


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