There’s a long-running quip about motorcycles and women that my friends and I bandy about when the liquor’s flowing, the girls are gone and our mouths are outpacing our tread upon brains: It’s better to share your girlfriend with your buddy than to share your bike. Simple enough, and though the prospect of sharing my better half with the likes of Stern, Vegas, Noodle or Cobra makes my shorthairs curl and my ears bleed (especially since Vegas just returned from Bangkok and has no problem regaling anyone within earshot about his erotic adventures'(sexploits that would make even Ron Jeremy blush) I’d probably let them borrow my gal rather than my motorcycle'if I owned a bike, that is.
So when I received a text message from Noodle that said, “Off to the big EZ, bike’s in the garage, keys in the lawnmower bag, if you crash, best you die,” I nearly wept'on the inside of course.
It’s been years since I’ve straddled anything bigger than 80cc (my riding mower) and Noodle knows it. His trust in me, though misguided, is immense. So I promptly made a beeline for his pad. After a quick five-block jaunt to Casa del Noodle and a not-so-quick game of “where the hell did he hide his house key?” I open the door and survey the room while helping myself to a short pull on a mostly empty bottle of Ancient Age.
Seems my friend left town in a hurry; the stairs leading to the second floor are buried under clothes, three years of crinkled New Yorkers, empty Tab cans, and a semiconscious drag queen. Closer inspection reveals the drag queen is Noodle’s exhausted bulldog dressed in an evening gown. I don’t know what he expects to find on Bourbon Street that he doesn’t already have in this living room. But that’s none of my business'I’m here for the bike.
With a deep breath and gloved hands I carefully down-dress the pooch into something more comfortable and lead her out back to take care of overdue doggie business. While she roots around the yard looking for a pristine patch of grass to burn, I amble over to the garage, pop the latch and raise the door.
It’s a damn fine machine: a perfect amalgamation of East meets West with Japanese no-nonsense engineering wrapped in a thick veneer of Harley-esque sheen. It’s the “classic” model, which might explain why the minimal dash lacks a gas gauge and tachometer. No matter. I pull the key from the lawnmower bag and tickle the little bugger to life.
Unlike a car, driving a bike takes concentration and every extremity has a responsibility: Right foot, rear brake â€¦ left foot, shifter â€¦ right hand, front brake â€¦ left hand, penis â€¦ It only takes a block or 10 before beast and master come to an understanding and I’m flying down 700 East feeling more alive than in years. I had no problem going fast and straight, it was the stopping, the Frogger-like positioning between car and curb, the invisibility factor and trying to text message one-handed that proved challenging'such is life. So I parked at the Gas-n-Grab, shook off the road vibrations and pulled out my phone to shoot Noodle a note. The message read: “Key in my pocket, blood in my ears, the world is right again'thanks brother. Oh, and you can borrow my girlfriend anytime [wink].”