Bike Week, Beef Jerky, and Girls Gone Wild, Gilford Style (strictly G-rated of course)

June 11, 2010

As we are on the eve of Motorcycle Week in the Lakes Region—the annual pilgrimage of bikers that both rivals (and predates) Sturgis, Daytona, Myrtle Beach, and all those other Johnny-come-lately events—I thought I’d write a little on the subject of wild behavior, though Bike Week is not necessarily that wild anymore, despite the cage fighting at Meadowbrook this year, despite the free Foghat concert at Laconia Harley.

The last time I went to Bike Week a couple years ago, I got free samples of Harley Davidson brand beef jerky at the Harley Davidson tent set up in downtown Laconia and I went to Weirs Beach on the Hobo Railroad—a train that runs on the old Boston and Maine tracks from Lakeport to the Boardwalk—so I could avoid the traffic. For $10 extra I could have ordered a “Hobo Picnic Lunch,” which actually comes in a little bandanna tied to a stick. If you don’t believe me check out the website: http://www.hoborr.com/winni.html Some stuff you just can’t make up.

I’m not going to write more about Motorcycle Week right now though, if only because there’s a whole chapter on it in my yet-to-be-published book, A Brief History of Sex Education, so you’ll have to wait and read more about it there. All I’ll say is that when you’re thirteen years old there’s nothing like cruising Lakeside Avenue during Bike Week on the back of a borrowed moped . . .

But back to the subject of girls gone wild, Gilford-style. Perhaps knowing that I am not by nature a wild person, I’ve often appreciated the company of friends who have, over the years, enabled me to say I have done more with my life than just sat on the couch reading books or writing blogs. And by wild, I’m not talking about “let’s drink a fifth of vodka and go hijack a golf cart” wild, or “let’s split a pack of Marlboro Reds and see who pukes first” wild—no, that kind of wild is unimaginative, run-of-the-mill, and just plain stupid.

I’m talking about the brand of wild I discovered when Patti moved in down the street from me in fifth grade and swept me up in her whirlwind. Except for the one time I recall having to help Patti clean her room—and yes, we did shove everything either into the closet or under the bed, including the glass of milk that had turned to cottage cheese—virtually all of my memories involving Patti occurred outside and all were a result of Patti saying “Hey!” followed by “Let’s—” and no matter what followed that “Let’s—” my answer was almost always “OK!”

“Let’s ski all the way to the bottom of the mountain without taking a single turn!”

“Let’s bike down Morrill Street without using our brakes!”

“Let’s see how fast we can ride the minibikes around the bases at Stonewall Park!”

“Let’s take the outboard close enough to the Mount Washington so we can wave at everyone standing on deck!”

The SS Mount Washington. Yep, it's a big boat to be buzzing by in an outboard. The wake is a lot larger when you're in it, I'll tell you that.

And yes, I did wipe out and have a complete yard sale on Gunstock Mountain more than once, I did end up crashing through the woods on my bike in the pre-helmet age of cycling, I did run my minibike into the fence behind home plate at Stonewall Park, and in retrospect I absolutely believe riding an outboard in the wake of the Mount Washington might be considered just as stupid as drinking a fifth of vodka and hijacking a golf cart (and I do remember it as the only time Patti actually said, “Um. . . we probably shouldn’t do that again.”), but I also learned the value of sometimes just saying “OK.” And I wonder too if I learned something about the nature of being wild—because maybe without me, Patti might not have done any of those things either—Patti needed someone else to say “OK” and join in. So maybe being wild really means running in a pack, not just going off on your own, and as long as the pack you join isn’t a vodka-swilling, Marlboro Red, let’s lift our tank tops whenever some jerk shows up and lifts his video camera kind of pack, then it might actually be OK sometimes. As long you’re wearing a helmet. And maybe floaties too, especially if you’re riding an outboard.

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2 Responses to “Bike Week, Beef Jerky, and Girls Gone Wild, Gilford Style (strictly G-rated of course)”

  1. lizahl said

    On the radio yesterday, I swear I heard Gov. Lynch characterize Bike Week as a “family friendly” event.

    And thanks for introducing me to a new use of “yard sale!”

  2. I fully expect to read a yard sale poem by you in the future that covers both meanings!

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