Gossip_long1Ding.

A text message sat on the screen of my cell phone.

Biker A: Did u hear what Biker B did?

I replied by thumb: No.

Ding.

Biker A: He took his $ and left. U believe that crap?

I sighed. My conversation with Biker A was going to be long and having it by text message sounded exhausting. So I wrote back: Can you just call me?

Ten seconds later my phone rang, and Biker A, skipping all conversational formality, launched directly into bitching about Biker B. He screamed about how his partner was an idiot and was doing everything to destroy their business building sportbike-cruiser hybrids and café racer motorcycles. I listened, letting Biker A blow off steam. He needed it. But by the twenty-minute mark, I was getting tired and went to the fridge for a beer. As I popped the cap and leaned against the kitchen counter to take that fantastic first pull, my phone dinged through Biker A’s rant. On the screen was a text from Biker B that read: Biker A is destroying my marriage!

It was going to be a long day.

For the next two hours, Biker A and Biker B assaulted each other by text message. Both men were my friends, and after Biker A copied me on one of his texts to Biker B, Biker B followed suit and began copying me on his texts to Biker A. I was suddenly the moderator of their fight, forced to watch their volley of texts composed in a shorthand that as a kid I knew as the spelling of retarded classmates. At times the tiny speaker in my cell phone sounded as if it was about to explode under the load of incoming messages. Their texts started off about the business, but quickly degraded to mud slinging and by the end became:

Biker B: Ur a sack of shit.

Biker A: At least Im not fake. Everything about u is bullshit.

Biker B: Ur the bitch with a BMW & heated grips.

Biker A: Ha! I ride more miles on that bike than u ever will on that stupid chopper.

Biker B: Rigid frames are 4 real men. Thats why u dont own 1.

Biker A: Like my dad said, u can stack up turds nice, but its still a pile of crap.

The word “crap” in Biker A’s message had been replaced with a tiny icon of feces that looked like a Hershey’s Kiss.

As I read in disbelief, Biker C, who had been best friends with Biker A since childhood, and Biker D, who was Biker B’s new bestie, joined the battle. What had been a stream of texts became a torrent, spilling down the screen of my cell phone like a waterfall. My mind swam. The texts kept coming. My mind hurt. The texts kept coming. Sentences lost all meaning. The texts kept coming. Words jumbled. The texts kept coming. Characters became unrecognizable. The texts kept coming. My body’s reflex for self-preservation kicked in, and I closed my eyes before suffering an aneurysm. I took a deep breath and smiled, remembering an argument I once had with my wife. An argument I actually won.

For the first ten years of our relationship, Elizabeth had unrelentingly scolded me for being a crappy listener. Not so much with her – though that too was an issue – but mostly when we were around a group of people. After parties, for example, at which several people had talked to us, Elizabeth would want to discuss the juiciest parts of the  conversation. She would remember people’s names and everything they had prattled on about, but I would recall little, referring to the people as “the woman with awful breath,” or “the man as interesting as cardboard.” My wife would frown upon hearing this and say, “You mean Jen and Mark.” My lack of retention in group situations frustrated her to high hell, and I began to think professional help was needed to hone my listening skills in order to save my marriage. But one day salvation came. It happened as Elizabeth and I were driving together listening to the radio. A report came on National Public Radio about new research on the differences in how the male and female brains register communication. A behavioral scientist had taken eight people and recorded them talking in pairs of two. Each conversation was on a separate topic and the two people speaking used each other’s name. The scientist then dubbed the four separate conversations on a single track so they played simultaneously. The tape was played for a group of test subjects composed of both sexes, and the results were clear: almost all the women remembered the people by name and what was being discussed in all four of the conversations. In short, the women were outstanding auditory multi-taskers. The men, on the other hand, had a much different response. They remembered no names, none of the topics discussed, and at hearing a bunch of people talking over each other, simply stopped listening.

I shut off my phone.

My heartbeat slowed.

A bluebird’s song came though the window. It was likely on our redwood fence shaded by bamboo, where birds usually perched.

Later that day, I decided to call Biker E. He had always been the “mother goose” of our group, planning trips and working on bikes when they broke down. He thrived on riding with friends, which was important, because such love allowed him to keep his sanity while being on the road with a bunch of childish idiots.

Avoiding my cell phone, which was still shut off, I used our landline.

“Look,” he said, “I want to stay out of this.”

“Well I’m right in the middle,” I lamented, “and don’t know what to do.”

“There’s nothing to do. Just let them blow off steam. They’ll settle down after a few days.”

“Think so?”

“I’m looking at their websites now,” Biker E said, “and everything’s fine.” He had been on his computer the whole time. It was typical, and I had come to accept people giving me half their attention during conversations as they fiddled with some technological gizmo. I did it too.

“Is that your new iPad?” I asked.

“Yeah.”

“You like it?”

“Love it,” he replied. “It’s fast and fits into my saddlebags.”

“What do you think about the digital keyboard?”

“I don’t use it much,” Biker E said. “Most of what I do is through apps. The one for eBay is killer. I’m buying most of my parts there now.”

“I just can’t get into the iPad,” I said. “The file structure drives me nuts. I need –”

“Oh shit,” Biker E muttered.

“What?” I asked anxiously, but annoyed at the change in conversation.

“Go to Biker A’s Facebook wall.”

I walked to my computer and checked. There, glowing on the screen in digital print, was the post:

 

Biker B is a poser bitch

As many of you know, I recently started a business with Biker B. I want you all to know he’s a liar and a thief. He’s ridden my coat tails for too long. Respect must be earned. Biker B is the finest example of wanna-be biker douchebaggery and has poisoned every aspect of my life.

Don’t ever work with this dude or you’ll get screwed like I did.

You reap what you sow, bitch.

 

Below the text was a picture of Biker B working on his motorcycle. The picture had originally been used as part of an advertisement for their shop, but in the post it took on a much different meaning. It somehow seemed less sincere, less like a man simply enjoying the act of keeping his bike running well.

From down the block, I heard a motorcycle engine rev. “I gotta go,” I said to Biker E and hung up as I looked out the window. Biker B came flying down my street and locked up the rear wheel, leaving a long black skid in front of my house. He barely put the kickstand down before jumping off his bike and bounding up my steps. But before he could reach the front door and pound on it, I opened it and caught him off guard.

“I just saw Biker A’s post,” he panted. “I was at the corner. Stopped at a red light. Checked Facebook on my cell phone.”

“Calm down,” I told him. “Take a breath.”

“I can’t believe that son of a bitch posted that for everyone to see,” Biker B roared.

“Relax. Everyone’s not running to Facebook to read the post,” I said. “It’s not a big deal.”

“Hell it isn’t!” He paused, then continued at a more metered pace. “Lemme use your computer.”

“What for?”

“I’m gonna get that bastard back.”

“How?”

“My blog,” he said. “I’m gonna rip Biker A a new asshole, and it’s easier to post from a computer than my cell.”

I put a hand over my face and rubbed my temples. “What ever you write is not going to help the situation. Yes, Biker A’s post was ridiculous. But you posting something in retaliation is just going to look petty.”

“There’s two sides to every story,” Biker B shot back.

“Yes, there are. But do you think people will see that? Or are they just gonna see two grown men bickering with each other?”

“He called me a liar. And a thief. And a poser. Bullshit! I started that company and he’s the one riding my coat tails. I’ve played nice, but that’s over. His post crossed the line, man.” Biker B caught his breath, then continued, “Lemme use your computer.”

“You’re being a bitch,” I said flatly.

“Me?” he fired back. “You’re the one who writes those motorcycle bromance stories.”

“Well,” I shrugged, “my wife does say I’m 49% gay.”

Biker B’s face contorted. “What the hell are you talking about?”

“The gay barometer,” I said matter of factly. “Zero means you’re straight and one hundred means you’re a flaming queen. Fifty percent is the tipping point. If you’re just below that, you have gay tendencies but you’re still straight. Above 50% and you’re technically gay. So 49% means I can appreciate drapery and a nice pair of heels, even write motorcycle stories with feelings, but I’m still attracted to women. One percent more and I’d like drapes and heels and penis.”

“Jesus Christ, you are gay,” Biker B said in amazement. “You might as well write poetry.”

“Never,” I replied. “I hate poetry. It’s forced, overdramatic drivel read by hippies and elitists.”

“Why the hell am I talking with you about this?” Biker B asked himself as he threw his hands up.

“I’d say you’re somewhere between 35 and 40%,” I said looking over Biker B.

“What!” he belched incredulously. “I don’t need to hear anymore of this shit. Are you gonna let me use your computer or what?”

“Sure,” I said in resignation. “You know where it’s at.”

Biker B stomped to the other side of my house and popped in front of the computer to compose his master rebuttal to Biker A. His typing came in fits and starts – one moment furious pecking at the keyboard, the next a long silence broken by a loud huff. At one point, I walked past the door to see him pacing the room and mumbling. He stopped in his tracks to nod and grunt as if agreeing with himself.

Sometime later, Biker B emerged from the computer room looking triumphant. He smiled and said, “OK. I’m done. I gotta get home.”

“Sure,” I said with half interest. “Hope whatever you wrote works out for you.”

The rest of the day, I stayed off my computer and cell phone. There was no need to read Biker B’s blog because his post was surely the same melodramatic bullshit about respect and trueness to the motorcycle scene that Biker A wrote.

That night I went to the kitchen to get my cell phone. I turned it on then lay it on the counter by the refrigerator as I grabbed a beer. I popped the cap and went for that fantastic first pull, but before I could take it my phone erupted in superimposed dings as texts messages flowed onto the screen. Seventy-three texts in all from Biker A, B, C, D, as well as a few newcomers, sat on the screen. I exhaled slowly and closed the app.

Taking the pull from my beer, I opened Twitter and scrolled through tweets. A long list of inflammatory messages between the Bikers began and appeared. Each was jammed with as much degradation and slander as could fit in the allotted 140 characters. Some tweets had pictures attached that had been taken by friends having drunken shenanigans, but were now being used to disgrace a fellow rider for public consumption. My mind began to swim again, and I threw the phone down on the counter, shrieking in exasperation.

“What’s wrong?” Elizabeth asked, walking into the kitchen.

“I’m dealing with a bunch of grown men acting like girls.”

“Is this about your friends and their business?”

“Of course.”

She shook her head, then asked, “Are you OK?”

“Yes,” I sighed. “I’m fine. I just need to do something to get my mind off this crap.”

“Why don’t you work on your motorcycle. Gage is down for the night.”

“No,” I said thinking. “I’m gonna watch TV. Something about real bikers and how they act.”

“Like what?” my wife asked.

“Sons of Anarchy.”

45 Comments

  1. Thanks to Laëtitia Guilbaud for the illustration used with this story. More of her divine paintings can be found at: http://www.laetitiaguilbaud.org

    Thanks also to Shane Sweeting and Eric Bachman for editing.

  2. Sounds like to me that this whole bunch are tweeting facebooking douchebags because real bikers don’t use any of that crap. Posers

    • Twitter: @Sonny_Barger

      • HAHAHAHAHAHA Well played!

        I never understood everyones desire to be a “biker” and be “true to the scene” and all that crap. It’s like when I was younger and really into the punk scene: you have all these people trying to be “punk” and dressing the same and trying to fit in togerther, and what they didn’t get was that that was the exact opposite of what the whole scene was supposed to be about! Same as “bikers” in all our flannel or leather wearing dorkiness! It winds up being a uniform, and you can’t say “real bikers do this, and don’t do that” because the 5 year old down the street is more of a real biker than anyone else I know. He doesn’t ride his Huffy to look cool, he does it because he wants to.

        Apologies for the diatribe. :P

        P.S. Can you BELIEVE that Sonny rides Victorys now? A REAL biker would always stick to Harleys! :P

        • Dude a real biker rides and he doesn’t care what you think and Sonny doesn’t need or want anyone’s approval.
          he gives his reasons and they read as valid to me.
          When I’ve got his miles up I might rethink it, but I doubt it.

          • That was sarcasm, guy. I said that for the irony of it. Not to make fun of or offend anyone. I have more Hondas than Harleys in my garage, so who am I to talk? :P

      • Boom! HAHA

  3. Also: congrats on another very well-written story of the soap-opera that is biker bromances!

  4. Ha! This is pretty great. Seen this firsthand a couple of times!!

  5. I’d never heard of your blog until a posting on Pashnit this morning caught my eye. I’ve got tears from laughing so hard. I’ll be following along from now on.

    Time to suit up (yeah, ATGATT), grab my full face helmet, get on my Moto Guzzi and head to the local canyons before meeting fellow riders for lunch and some more riding. You know, you have to get ready for the weekend with a warm up ride. =;->

    jdg

    • Glad you found it. And don’t ever tell me where you live because I may just come steal that Guzzi. Lovely bikes.

      • Thank you – I do love this bike. Come on down anytime. We’re relatively close to each other. I’m in the SoCal area. Next time you have nothing to do on a Friday around lunch, come join us at the Rock Store. Good war stories, great roads without much traffic (not like the weekends), and good folk who just happen to ride motorcycles.
        jdg

  6. Michael Dickson

    Whether the scene is set by athletes, actors or even politicians (to name a select few); it is certainly an interesting topic of human nature exposed by our emotions! I hope your biker crew will view this article as a lesson and not a negative “jab”. Communication is key, but unfortunately we are now over saturated with ways to communicate. What ever happened to face to face confrontation and settling issues like adults? This article should be read by all and not just bikers.

  7. Branden Wildvank

    Another great story!

    Thank Christ I can’t relate to that type of drama. I guess the more chopper heroes you know, the crazier the stories.

    Can’t wait for the next one!

  8. I finally had enough of reading about peoples “problems” on Facebook and all the back and forth bantering, bitching and general whining that happens on there and other social media sites with people who claim their lives are “oh so tough”. I deactivated my account and haven’t looked back since, I’ve got enough problems of my own without having to listen to everybody elses so called sob stories and drama day in and day out. Facebook went from being a place I could stay in touch with friends to a frickin’ horse and pony show full of drama queens and attention whores.

  9. If it’s not women it’s money…friends have a hard time being friends sometimes.

    Really good stories Kevin, best of luck with your book.

  10. The funny part about this story is the fact that they are bikers is just a setting. The Facebook, twitter, text phenomenon sets up all of us for this kind of drama. Instant messaging = instant arguments = instant drama. You used to have to do this crap face to face or maybe over the phone, but now we air our dirty laundry for all to see, judge and crucify. This story is a great reflection of us as a stupid society.

  11. Phil DeAlmeida

    Loved it.

    Read all the stories, the man is a true wordsmith with the heart of an ol’ school biker.

  12. I really hate phones and texing & man drama ! Bring back pay phones .
    Great story Kev . Looks like it got everyone agro too . Guess we all have been there , Sad ! haha

    Keep them coming…

  13. Beauty. We were better of when high tech was electronic ignition. Now we have communigadgetry to bitch slap each other with.

    Always glad to get my subscription, though.

  14. Thanks for the read of the drama queen soap opera.

  15. Most macho subcultures are comprised primarily of these guys right here, with 1% being the actual badasses they’re trying to emulate. The Biker subculture is no exception. Lost and confused 30 year old boys trying to find manhood in a culture with no definitive right of passage and an overabundance of dramatic extremes. Maybe I’m reading into it too much, but it seems like the story simplifies this, and just shows us the consequence: a bunch of bullshit to deal with when we should just be able to have a good time.

    Keep it coming for us other 49%ers, Brutha!

  16. Another great story by Kev. Problem it’s too true. Too many people caught up in Jr High School girls Drama!! There’s more to life than that crap!!! If you got a beef with somebody confront them face to face if you don’t have the cojones to do that keep you’re mouth shut!!

    Good luck with your book.

  17. Great story. Unfortunately shows the way most of these so called “bikers” actually are. Glad to know theres still a few people who could care less about the drama.

  18. Wonderful dialog and characters! I enjoyed reading it.

  19. The gay barometer had me cracking up! Keep up the good work.

  20. Great story…unfortunately too true to life. Would have loved seeing everyone die at the end…..just joking.

  21. Is the author the same guy who was crowned “Champion Of The Cocktagon”? I heard he was a bad motherfucker with a wiffle ball bat!

  22. Haha thats the funniest shit I have read in a long time. I guess reality really is the best entertainment. Hope to see more from you in the future.

  23. Great story! (49%) so you!

  24. Home brother, thank you for your great stories. I now have my wife reading your stories as we speak!

    • I’m glad you’re home from Afghanistan, Jeff. You should have two weeks of pure, unadulterated laziness during which time you do what ever the hell you damn well please.

      Also glad to hear you’ve convinced you’re wife to drink the Kool Aid.

  25. That was good, it’s not hard to picture that very thing. I call those “Circus Circles”.

    Stay upright, man!

  26. “One percent more and I’d like drapes and heels and penis.” Kinda changes how you look at a “1%’er” haha!

    Great story, man.

  27. Another great read Kevin! Makes me appreciate my boring nondramatic life!!

  28. We’ve all been there at some point!

  29. It’s sometimes difficult to write stuff like this without it becoming cumbersome and the dialog being snooze inducing.
    This piece was really, really well done and held my attention the whole time.

    We’ve all probably been each of those guys at one time or another, with or without social media. I found it revealing and honest, rather than preachy or self-absorbed.

    Thumbs up. :)

  30. made me laugh. . .

  31. I rather enjoyed that story. Well-written and had a nice ending. I’d be interested to see more of your work!

    John

  32. Who’d have ever thought Social Media would get to these heights. I still find it hard to believe grown bikers resort to cell phone facebook. Like its cool while on vacation to keep in touch. But riding around day to day…can’t they wait till they are at home?

  33. I could not read it all, too much jr high school shit. I just don’t get this bs new biker bullshit, go beat his ass and then have a beer together, that’s what we used to do, hell that’s what the guys I ride with still do

  34. Mary Crawford

    Sure glad I finally got around to reading this one! This clarifies why I refuse to get texting on my cell phone plan — what a waste of time and effort! They all should have met for lunch, threw a few punches and got it all over with in an hour. Very enjoyable story though, but of course, it is because you are the author!