Thursday, July 16, 2009

Just Wanna Ride My Motor-Sickle

Summer, that time of year when the bug population is trimmed back thanks to the personal bug catchers sported by a small segment of our community - the bug-splattered teeth of motorcycle riders. This reminds me of my own days as a Two Wheeled Terror when I spent time making my dentist rich by having him remove particularly hard bits of beetles from my incisors.

Yes, back in my youth, I was a Motorcycle Not Yet Mama, as this was before I had children or any sense of my own mortality.

I got a Zen feeling while riding and it wasn't from sucking fumes from a bus while waiting at a traffic light in the middle of the city. My Zen came from riding through the countryside and breathing the exhaust fumes of thousands of dairy cattle mere feet from the road. I tried to get others to ride with me, but they kept worrying about the guys from Deliverance stepping out from behind a tree to torment them with Dueling Banjos. I assured them that we would not meet any toothless, gun-toting sodomizers.

That was my second mistake.

My first mistake was assuming my co-riders knew which end of a mule does what and which end you should avoid unless you need fertilizer. Almost as soon as we were out of the city limits, these poor souls displayed an inordinate amount of ignorance. People think us hillbillies are dumb, but these folks were spooky stupid.

"Hey Marti, why are those horses so fat?"
"Because they're cows."

"What's that smell?"
"Fresh air."

With my irritation growing to the size of a cow pregnant with triplets, I suggested we find someplace to buy a cold drink and take a break. We stopped at what could loosely be termed a convenience store, but was really more of a fishing supply and liquor shop. The closest thing to a Slushee was the bucket of stinkbait.

I knew right off the bat that my friends were uneasy when they saw the mounted Jackalope by the front door.

Things got worse when we entered the building and were greeted by a toothless, gun-toting sodomizer.

Riff-Raff Just kidding. There was a shotgun propped up in the corner behind the counter, but the proprietor actually looked more like Riff-Raff from Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Except wearing bib overalls. She was toothless, though.

My friends cowered in a tight huddle, glancing around nervously at the containers of leeches, night crawlers and other assorted fish bait. I was not afraid, as fish bait and bald, toothless women were a common sight for me as a child of the Ozarks. While my riding buds were busy being terrorized by leeches, I looked for the drink and frozen bait cooler. Drinks are always stored next to the frozen bait. It's probably a government regulation for rural bait shops.

I saw, under stacks of minnow buckets, a Coca-Cola chest-type cooler. The storekeeper's left eye saw me heading that way while her right eye watched the leeches.

She called out, "Sheen's busted. Sumpin widda gay-ers. Iffen ya wanna sodee we's gwanna hatta go gittum out the walkin roun' back."

I smiled brightly and said "OK," because I speak Hillbillyese, and fully understood that the vending machine was broken - some sort of mechanical failure involving the gears, but that soft drinks were stored in a walk-in cooler located at the rear of the shop.

The others remained where they stood, trembling at the front of the emporium, muttering possible translations of the conversation. I went out back leaving my buddies packed tighter than sardines near the front door. The leeches swam in their tank, occasionally stopping to bare their teeth at the leather-clad riders, who responded with moans of terror.

I returned with an armload of soda pop and extracted payment from everyone without having to threaten them with a leech. They teleported back to the motorcycles.

"Wha-what did tha-that person say?" they all asked.

Before I could answer, one said, "It sounded like she mentioned Martin Sheen, Christopher Walken, and something about gays."

Feeling a tad ornery, I leaned in and whispered, "Yes, there are a lot of Hollywood celebrities who come to the Ozarks to get their freak on away from all the press and photographers. They spend a lot of money in these parts though, so we try to keep it kind of hush-hush."

I had a hard time keeping a straight face, but they all seemed in awe of my insider knowledge. I was just about to divulge the truth when another pointed to a cornfield and asked, "What's that?"

I offered an explanation, and we departed. I grinned all the way back to the city, thinking about them telling their friends about the wild celebrity bashes in the Ozarks and how they'd seen real live spaghetti plants ready to harvest - you could tell they were ripe because the spaghetti was popping out the top of the pods and withering into brown silky strings.

It was worth the bugs in my teeth.