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The air felt cold when I stepped outside in the early morning; it was forty-nine degrees. A chill ran up my back as I walked the dog in my pajama pants and a short sleeve T-shirt. I noticed the tarp covering my motorcycle in the driveway had blown off overnight. Hence, Nova Mae and I replaced it. Before returning to the house, I turned around, removing the tarp again. "Why'd you take it back off, Dad," my dog asked.
"I have to leave soon for a dentist appointment in Duluth. I'm going to ride my bike into town," I told her. The dog looked at me like I'd lost my mind. "I know. It's a bit cold now, but when the sun rises; it will be a nice day." Nova was not convinced this was a good idea. "Look, I've ridden longer distances in much colder temperatures than this," I assured her.
"But weren't you in your twenties then," she tried to reason. I gave her a scathing look.
"I'll be fine," I told her, then gave her a rub on the head. "Let's go inside and get breakfast."
I fed the dog, then poured a bowl of Cheerios for myself. I had already brushed and flossed my teeth. I didn't want to mess them up before the dentist appointment, so I poured the Cheerios back into the box. "I'll go get breakfast after the appointment." I got dressed.
Nova met me at the front door as I put on my riding gear. I was struggling with the zipper on my chaps. "Are you sure this is a good idea," she asked again.
"I'm sure," I replied. "When I was younger, I didn't even have chaps." I finally got the zipper closed on my right leg, then fastened the snaps by my ankle. Next, I started working on the other leg. Cautiously, I confided in my trusty canine, "I'm going to have to lose some weight or get different chaps. Good Lord!" (The chaps were too tight when I bought them.)
With my chaps secured, I pulled on my leather motorcycle jacket. I zipped the zippers, snapped the snaps, and buckled the buckles. Finally, I put on my helmet and was ready to go. "Darn it," I blurted out. Nova looked at me, wondering what the matter was. "The keys to the bike are in my front pocket."
I felt like the little kid whose mom just got him all bundled up in a snowsuit to go sledding, then announced, "I have to go to the bathroom." I unfastened the belt on my chaps and lowered them just enough to reach into my pocket for the keys. I had to reconnect the buckle by feeling because I could not see my waist below my jacket with my helmet on.
I was fully dressed again, with the keys in my hand. I tried to bend over to give Nova a rub on the head. But now I felt like Ralphie's little brother in the Christmas story. I could barely move my arms and worried that if I tried to bend down, I might fall over. If that happened, there was a real possibility of being unable to get back up. I lifted the face shield on my helmet, "I'll see you later this afternoon, Nova Mae. Be good."
I decided to chance giving her a rub, but Nova backed away. She doesn't really know what to think of me when I'm in full black leather with a full-faced black helmet. I must have looked like a space alien or a swamp creature to her. "Okay, be that way," I said, lowering my face mask and walking out the front door.
Walking down the path to the driveway, I could see Nova Mae watching me in the bay window. I waved to her, "You should have taken the loving when you had the chance, kid!" In the driveway, I straddled the motorcycle. Without being covered overnight, dew gathered in the stitching on the seat. The moisture quickly soaked into the seat of my jeans. "That's cold," I said with a shiver, then put the key in the ignition.
The motor fired right up. The bike's sound, the exhaust, and steam from the tail pipes, took me right back to my junior year of high school in my parent's driveway; on a chilly fall morning, heading for school. I felt very warm again. It's funny how sounds and smells can be such a powerful memory trigger. I put the kickstand up, pulled the clutch, and shifted the bike into first gear. I rode out of the driveway giving Nova Mae two toots on the horn.
I was perfectly warm riding down Highway 61 at sixty miles per hour. The sun was shining, and I felt very alive. Twenty miles down the road, my hands started getting a little cold. "I need warmer gloves," I said to myself. I raised up on my foot pegs and placed my left hand between my legs and the seat to warm my hand. "Only forty-five more miles to the dentist. I'll be fine."
Another twenty miles down the road, my body and legs were warm, and my left hand was doing okay, but my right hand was cold on the throttle. When I got to the dentist's office, it was really cold.
I took off my helmet and chaps in the parking lot, leaving them on the bike; I wore my jacket inside. After checking in at the desk, I sat on my cold hands in a chair. I had to unzip my coat a little more as I was getting too warm. Just then, a bulb lit up over my head. "My chest is warm." I crossed my arms, tucking my hands deep inside my coat and under my arms. "Ah, that's nice."
After about fifteen minutes, the dental hygienist came to get me in the waiting area. My hands were still cold but not nearly as bad as when I arrived. "Did you ride your motorcycle today," she asked. I told her I did. "Wasn't it cold," she wondered.
"My body was plenty warm inside all the leather," I told her, "But my hands got a little cold. I need to get warmer gloves for riding in this weather."
After my appointment, I stood outside beside my bike, thinking what a spectacle it would create if I tried to put on my chaps in front of the big lobby windows. So instead, I ran my next few errands without wearing the chaps. It was still cold outside, so finally, I pulled into a parking lot to put my chaps on. "I'm sure a guy putting on chaps that are too small will not be the oddest thing seen in a Walmart parking lot today." I had a good laugh about that, then struggled with the zippers until I was inside my warm leather leggings. People stared as they walked by me.
It was noon, and I still hadn't eaten anything all day. I was hungry and wanted my breakfast. So, I rode across town to the Perkins on London Road. I went inside still wearing my chaps to avoid another struggle.
Kelly escorted me to a booth. "Did you ride your motorcycle today," she asked. I told her I did. "Wasn't it cold?" I said my hands got a little chilly. Then she told me about the bike she bought, a Suzuki 650. "I taught myself to ride it," she said. We swapped some stories then she said, "I'll go get your coffee. Erin will be along to take your order."
I looked at the menu. Eggs Benedict. They always interest me, but I have never had them and wasn't going to try them today. So, I skipped right over them. Maybe an Everything Omelet. It's a Denver omelet with mushrooms and tomatoes. Add some salsa and sour cream, and voilà. We're talking breakfast! But wait…
I scanned over the Eggs Benedict again to get to the Hearty Man Combo. Mmm, I was hungry – but what is this over here? “The Triple Egg Dare Ya: Three eggs, three bacon, three sausages, two pancakes, 2 French toast, and hash browns. Man, that breakfast is big enough for two, but I could easily eat all that by myself today!" Just as I was about to decide on the Triple Egg Dare Ya, I started thinking about my tight chaps. Of course, I was already wearing them, so I wouldn't have to squeeze into them again. But after a meal that big, I might just blow them out.
Erin came to the table (for the fourth time). "Have you had enough time to decide yet?"
"You know, Eggs Benedict always interest me," I told the waitress, "But I have never had them, have you?"
"I like Eggs Benedict," she replied.
I was still skeptical. "I think I'll have the Triple Egg Dare Ya," I said.
Suddenly, a little four-inch-tall Nova Mae was sitting on my right shoulder. "You're going to have to lose weight or buy bigger chaps," she reminded me. I gave her a glaring look.
"Wait a minute," I stopped Erin. "Let's switch that to Eggs Benedict. What kind of toast does that come with?"
Erin smiled, "Eggs Benedict is served over English Muffins. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with toast."
"Oh, I didn't know that. I've never had them," I said. "Let's skip the toast. Instead, I'll have one pancake on the side." Erin repeated my order, then asked if that would be all.
I was considering changing my order to two pancakes on the side. Just then, four-inch Nova Mae reappeared. "Bigger chaps, Dad," she taunted.
"Go to your kennel," I muttered.
"Pardon me," Erin said.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I was saying, yes, that will be all. Thank you."
After breakfast, on my way to the front door, I stopped by the waitress station to thank Erin for her excellent service."
"How did you like the Eggs Benedict," she asked.
"They were okay," I answered.
"Will you order them again," Erin inquired.
Being honest, I said, "Probably not." I paused, then confessed. "It's the name, Benedict. I think of Benedict Arnold every time I see them on a menu. The color of the hollandaise sauce reminds me of what a yellow-bellied turncoat he turned out to be. Now that I've tried them, I feel like a traitor who's betrayed my beloved big breakfast of eggs, meat, toast, and pancakes." We shared a good laugh about that. I finally admitted, "They were okay, but there are entrees I like better that I would order instead." We said our farewells, and I was on my way.
Passing through Two Harbors, going home, my hands started to feel cold again. "I've got to get warmer gloves for riding this fall."
Nova can hear my motorcycle coming when I'm still a half mile away from home. She greets me when I walk through the front door. I took off all my riding leathers, then gave hugs and love to my dog. She was excited to see me, but when I rubbed her warm tummy with my icy-cold hands, she jumped up on the couch, curling up next to her mom.
"Come back here, Nova," I said.
"No way," the dog answered. "Your hands are freezing!"
"You’re dissing me for having cold hands? Okay fine, dog. But you're acting like my eggs, Benedict!"
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