We pull off the road, exhilarated from the ride and parched. Mouths drier than a Brit’s wit. I’m talking dry here. Kelly, Brian and I have not been on the road long, but it’s been busy. A lot of blind, off-camber turns and traffic have taken a little bit of a toll. A cold Coors is calling my name and I feel the need to heed the call.
We stop and pull into a small little dive. The vibe from the place screams “LOCALS ONLY” as we enter the cool interior. Patrons glance our way hoping to see a familiar face and seeing none, return to their beers. I order a $3.50 draft and hand the bartender a 5 spot, telling her to keep the change. I’m “in” now. Oh yeah, so in.
I make my way to the back patio. Biker heaven folks. Porta potty, tables, beer and smokes. Like I said, heaven. Crap! Smokes! I forgot my smokes on my scoot. I now have to walk back out through the bar to get my cigs. Through the stares. The questions. The stale spilt beer.
“Nice bike, what size?”
“Your bike, what size motor do you have?”
Oh, sorry. It’s an S&S 107. Good motor, too bad the electronics suck.
“Well, it’s a nice bike. You should be proud. Hey, nice tat by the way, did you serve?”
I did. Fast attack submarines. A long time ago though.
“Hey, serving is serving man. God bless ya.”
“So what do think about all this 911 coverage?”
Awe dude, I’m not sure I want to talk about that.
“Why, you don’t want to remember?”
Look man, I remember. Like it was yesterday. I remember. I also remember Dec 7, 1941, and Aug 6th, 1945.
“What does that mean?”
Nothing man. Hey, cute dog. My wife and I have a small dog too. Never thought I’d have one, but man, I love the lil girl
“Oh yeah, we just love her… Hey, you’re looking pretty pink!”
I let out a laugh. I know, my skin is almost the same color pink that’s in my feather tat my daughter Amanda designed for me.
I show him the tat.
“Hey, you’re right! So why do you hate America, and what the hell happened to folk music?”
“Why do you hate America?
Not that, what the hell are you saying about folk music?
“It’s gone man. Nobody writes shit that matters anymore. Idiots prancing on stage, no real meaning to lyrics. Doesn’t anyone just play the guitar and sing anymore??”
I laugh again. I hear ya man. Nothing makes sense in the music world these days.
“So why do you?”
Why do I what?
I smile, assuring the kind man I don’t hate America, and head out to get my smokes.
What has happened to folk music? Remember the old days? Protest songs. Songs against injustice. People cared it seemed. Did 911 rob us of the ability to protest?
Is it wrong to sound out against the senseless deaths of so many American soldiers? What gives man? What about the fact that almost 100 times more people have died in retaliation of the 911 deaths, does that matter? When does it stop? When does the human need to extract vengeance cease to be a human need? When will we realize that it is okay to be different, it is okay to worship a different God, that it is okay to love?
The America I love is written in the base of the Statue of Liberty. A country that welcomes all. That plays fair. That honors freedom. That is full of individuals that will band together and stand taller than any tower ever could. A country full of people that will look anyone in the eye and tell them they can kill Americans, but they will never kill the American spirit. That’s the America I love. That’s the America I served.
I walk back inside and see the man still cuddling his little dog.
I thought about what you said.
“Really? What did I say?”
Folk music. It’s not dead man. We just haven’t found the right voice yet.
“Oh, right! Yeah, I dig that man. Hey, God Bless America, right?”
Yeah, and hey, God Bless the World too, right?
“Oh yeah man, totally.”
I go back to the patio to join Kelly and Brian. For me, this day is about freedom. Riding my bike with my best buds. Taking in the cool air, twisties and cold ones. Never forget, but always remember what truly matters.
Disclaimer: My bros Kelly, Brian and I did take a ride today. We did go to the bar mentioned and as I was going out to get my smokes off my scoot, the gentleman in question did ask me about my bike. He also told me he was having a hard time with all the 911 coverage and remarked, “Where are the anti-war songs man? Remember those?” Aside from that, it’s all just in my head.