Tattooed thunder you can hear coming

Tattooed thunder you can hear coming

When my wife and I vacationed in a lovely little town on the Rhode Island coast called Narragansett, we stayed at a waterfront inn located near the intersection of Beach and Ocean streets.

I know, I know … it sounds like I’m making it up, and I get that.

In all honesty I’m not always the reliable narrator I purport to be and have been known — when imagination serves better than recollection — to, let’s say, embroider a story with, let’s say, lies.

Well, that’s a little harsh. How about convenient constructs? Relatable fabrications? Do you like alternative realities?

Nope … sometimes I just invent stuff to suit my purpose, which is, as it’s always been, to write something entertaining and enlightening once a week for the edification of my loyal readers.

If anything, I’m rather more guilty of lipsticking the pig, of easing up on the accelerator, of toning it down, especially when it comes to matters of a broken heart, because no one wants to read that kind of misery unless, well, they too have been through similar straits.

So I walk a tight wire when I venture down memory lane, keeping my focus on what happened and why, knowing I hold the truth.

OK, where were we?

Oh, yes, standing at the corner of Ocean and Beach streets.

Narragansett, unlike Newport, its much more elegant and storied neighbor to the northeast, doesn’t put on airs. It seems content to be pretty much what it is, a small, thriving fishing village where visitors are made to feel welcome and residents don’t mind crowds.

But enough about Rhode Island. I want to write about motorcycles.

Ever since the weather finally broke after a seemingly endless parade of cold, dank, windy, snowy, rainy, icy days, the hometown to which I returned in early January has awakened in full-bloom springtime. This has invigorated my wife, who’s been planting flowers and adding outdoor tchotchkes, thriving in the happy busyness of being back, though I try to help out when I can.

Why just this morning I jerked open a stubborn window above the kitchen sink, making it a successful day in my mind, though I can see you shaking your head, thinking, “What a useless husband.”

And it’s true I’ve spent far more time on the front porch listening to the radio than I have doing actual labor, though I did install a flagpole and situate a ceramic frog in the oak tree.

Mostly, I watch the traffic go by, and let me tell you there’s a whole lot of it. After spending 23 years in a coastal Carolina gated community, where the only things moving by were dog walkers, golf carts and recumbent cyclists, it’s come as a bit of a jolt to bear witness to the everyday hustle and bustle of small-town life again.

Semis and delivery trucks rumble past all day, school buses appear early every morning and return after 3 p.m., the postman parks in the lot of the convenience store across the way and walks his rounds, and the Comet-cleanser colored public transport van rolls by often even as the occasional horse-drawn buggy clip-clops down the road, heading for God’s country out there beyond where TV dishes stand.

And then there are the motorcycles, those fire-breathing, flame-belching iron stallions, shattering the air with a thundering roar, shifting through the gears, higher and higher, like a schizophrenic mental patient with a remote control, never content to stay put, always looking for the next level, the next chance to hit that curve with more speed than is necessary, but one that must be mastered.

We had folks like that in North Carolina, weekend warriors who headed for the beach in tidy packs of six and eight, sporting their store-bought leathers, but they were helmeted motorcycle enthusiasts.

These guys are bikers.

Bearded, long-haired, boot-kicking, headband-wearing, Steppenwolf-blasting, helmets-are-for-sissies, serious dudes.

And there are dozens of them, probably hundreds, and they’ve greeted spring with the same zeal as deer in rutting season, single-minded in their purpose and dedicated to a biker code that only the initiated understand, not guys like me who know “Easy Rider” backward and forward and enjoyed “Sons of Anarchy” on TV.

No, there’s no room in their iron-fisted fraternity for men like me.

So I’m doing the next best thing.

Last week I pulled my 1976 lime-green Schwinn Varsity 10-speed out of the garage and examined it for the first time since our move. Then I did the same thing with my wife’s bike, a spiffy 2000 model, emerald with silver piping, made by the same company. After I inflated all four tires, we were ready for our first ride into town, heading for a shop on Main where I might find a new seat.

Not to get into excruciating — and rather embarrassing — detail, let me just say we’ll do much better the next time we saddle up.

I mean it’d be extremely difficult to do worse, but that’s just fine.

The weather’s turned; the flowers are in bloom. It’s time to find a lake for summertime swimming. Friends and family are coming around, and life is good here at the corner of Harley and Davidson.

Mike Dewey can be reached at or 1317 Troy Road, Ashland, OH 44805. He invites you to find him on Facebook, where it’s almost always time to get your motor running.

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