Heavy Metal – For Brian’s 50th Birthday

Sorry.  That's as close as I could get.

Sorry. That’s as close as I could get.

When you are in the middle of a series that you are writing off the cuff, it isn’t a good time to get writer’s block. That’s okay, it doesn’t last too long…

Yes, we are still celebrating Brian’s 50th Birthday in just one week.  Maybe since you all loved the picture I found of Brian riding the bear, I’ll tell you about some other riding we used to do.  Brian and I used to do a little bit of motorcycle riding. We both had bikes when we were in our teens and we loved to get them out and get them dirty.  However, when our house burned up in 1976, we lived in a rental home on Eighth Street for a while.

We weren’t allowed to ride through town as we were not licensed (obviously), so we did a lot of riding in the yard. Uncle Bill came and stayed with us a bit and taught us a little about riding, which was pretty cool.  I remember he used to have this beautiful Triumph, the first bike I ever rode.  Well, this house had a detached garage with a patio behind it.  Riding around the house wasn’t enough challenge, so we would ride figure-eights with the transition being that thin space between the house and the garage.

There’s a favorite saying I like to repeat about the average distance between pine trees being about handlebar width, indicating that I (and Brian) have some experience with that.  The gap between the house and garage was right at about the same gap as the average between pine trees as well.  The result is that on occasion, zipping through that spot resulted in some pretty interesting crashes. Once Brian made the curve in front and punched it to go through the gap.  We had been flirting with our speed each time, but I guess Brian decided that he was going to test that Theory of Diminishing Clearances.

For those of you who don’t know that physical principle, the Theory of Diminishing Clearances indicates that the faster you go, the smaller your vehicle gets.  So when faced with a low bridge or a narrowing gap between cars, if you just go faster, you will make it.

That is just theoretical, of course. He didn’t make it.  In fact, he hit a step, bounced off it and ricocheted off the garage wall, taking a big chunk out of it.  The impact tore all kinds of stuff off his bike and threw him skidding across the patio and his bike ramming into the iron fence on the other side. He was, in fact wearing his helmet, so no repeat head injuries, but his bike looked like hell and there was now a big chunk out of the wall. Honestly, I don’t know to this day if anyone noticed, and the bike cleaned up okay.  Nothing a little duct tape can’t fix.

Later that summer, we moved from there to another rental house, this one in Lansdale, off of Broad Street, all the way down almost to the Dairy Queen and the Yum Yum Donuts. This house became legendary in the status of how bachelor pads become legendary.  Our friends would come to the house, which had a downstairs bar (prime beer can display location) and it was (back then) in the middle of nowhere.  You could set off explosives and nobody would probably even notice. Well, let’s say, when we set off explosives out there, nobody came, so I’m guessing nobody noticed.

We chose not to mow the backyard.  You couldn’t see through the grass it was so high. Really.  We cut paths around the grass and into the cornfield next door and rode our motorcycles all summer long. Ultimately, when we had to move, we had to cut the grass.  It was so bad that we had to get a Bush Hog to cut it down, and even then, we had to go back over it several times to make it look like humans lived there again. So left to our own devices, Brian and I (and all our friends) had a great summer that year.

Unfortunately, I almost see that now as the beginning of the end, or at least the beginning of big changes. Here’s to you, Brian, once more. Happy Birthday! Love you lots.

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