Bikes Booze & Babes
 
They are called the 3 B’s, and though there are several variations, the basic concept remains the same. You could say its like God, mother, and country, but you might want to consider the ramifications based on the environment in which you desire to make such a connection. None the less, it is a grammar free statement of priorities. One that is so engrained within a sub-culture of this country, that being viewed as a “biker” carries with it this assumption of fast bikes, wild parties, and even faster, wilder women. Yet, in recent years, a trend has been emerging, and its left me wondering how to feel about either side of this growing divide within the two wheeled, pipe pounding community. On one side of the bridge is the traditional, social outcast biker type. Dirty is an adjective often used, as is rude, loud, big, well you get the idea. It’s the picture of unshaven, unrefined, guys wearing beat up leathers, and bandana’s, milling about hole in the wall bars looking for the next brawl. Now enters the group I like to refer to as “Mid-life Marauders”. It used to be, these guys would go buy a Vet, Rogaine, and hair dye. Top it all off with a little “fake bake” and you had your mid-life crisis hobby kit. These days, the Vet has been replaced by Harley’s, and the “fake bake” by well cared for, treated leathers that never seem to loose there hanger creases. Even Rogaine becomes a mute point with the dawning of well waxed helmets and American flag bandanas. So maybe my initial statement of benevolent understanding was a bit overstated. I do, in fact, know how I feel about it, and that’s irritated. This passion in my life that really reaches down deep within me, is the miles of freedom my bike affords me, in a quest to reach beyond the confines of this world. It’s the side of “biker” that isn’t represented by the 3 B’s, and is missed by the “Mid-life Marauders”. It might be one of the greater paradox’s of life. The human need to identify with others, to “belong” or “fit in“, yet we value our individualism.

Teenagers, are great examples of the pain associated with reaching a point of functionality within this contradicting state of affairs. They dress alike, talk alike, and the worst nightmare they could possibly face, would be anything resembling rejection by their peers. But any parental admonition involving the “everyone is doing it mentality“, and a screaming demon comes forth, vengefully proclaiming individuality on a scale never before witnessed in human history. It seems almost an obsession to hold on to this notion that nobody has felt the way I feel, nobody has stretched themselves the way I have, nobody could possibly understand, I am in fact a unique and beautiful snowflake fighting off the heat lamp of societal conformity. And who am I to argue with it? Society is, after all, made up of teens, all grown up. At least that is what we like to tell ourselves.
Of course, I have to question the stereotypical measurements of being an adult when the most common elective surgery bar none is breast augmentation, and pharmacies can’t keep Viagra in stock. Name brands mean more now than ever. Simple observation of neighborhood buzz over Mr. Jones’ new Hummer, or the extra perk in Mrs. Jones’ steps as she sports a Nordstrom‘s bag through the mall, are testament to that. And don’t even get me started on the ironies of 200 TV channels but only 24 hours in a day. Our grown up society even insists on the continuation of cliques, attempting to pigeon hole the entirety of the population into neat little packages for… Okay, I’m not exactly sure what for.

 

Maybe it has to do with direct communication among people seeming to be at an all time low. As a society, we e-mail, text message, blog, IM, send memos, fax, and whatever new technology is on the horizon placing micro-chips and glowing screens between people. The “old school” ideals of face to face, spoken words, eye contact, voice inflection, and body language, have apparently become a lost art. Cliques in the “adult” world, serve the same purpose they did in high school, security. So this obsession to pigeon hole the world, just might be a way of overcoming the fears associated with our lack of taking the time to truly understand one another. It is a process of acceptance without risk. But is it really?

 

The biggest effect of techno chatting, seems to be an insurgence in the propagation and application of stigmas. There are a system of pre-conceived notions for every segment of society, usually born of ignorance, jealousy, or fears. In the arena of mental health, you are often subject to ideas of being dangerous, or unhealthy to be around. It is a difficult subject to argue at times, when you are faced with accusations of instability based on credit scores, work history, financial stability, and all the other “standard” measurements of what makes a responsible adult. All to often I am left with my only defense being the half hearted joke; “The problem isn’t that I’m crazy, it’s that you’re all normal.” It’s a band-aide on the hemorrhaging effects of being born with an illness that doesn’t afford me the apparent comfort of being pigeon holed into one of societies desirable slots.
 
Perhaps this is why I find myself completely engrossing my life in a bipolar world, when those episodes of continued rejection, and criticisms seem to be stronger than I am. A world where I can be understood without judgment, without excessive explaining, without effort. But like it or not, bipolar is only a part, not the whole of my existence. It is a truth not only for my life; not only for the lives of those suffering from mental illness, or the lives of those with physical handicaps. It is in fact a truth for every living person. In one manner or another, we are all broken; we are all hemorrhaging. Within that truth is the answer to why we should take the time to put away the micro-chip powered glowing boxes, and take the time to really get to know each other.

_________________
I'm not sure how to feel about that..

Copyright 2006 Stephen Surgener

 

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