Familiarity in motorcycling?


In 1987, our middle son, Ervin, was three years old, and he had accompanied my wife, Gwyneth, and me to Daytona that year. His older brother, Mack, didn’t want to come because he suspected Erv would sing in the car. Mack at that time had a very strong “thing” against anyone’s singing in the car. So he stayed behind with another family.

One afternoon, we found ourselves waiting for an elevator in the building where a rider friend was staying during Bike Week. Four substantial real-estate ladies in full regalia—corrective makeup, dresses made from upholstery fabric and permed hair of an unnatural hue—were charmed by our little boy and advanced upon him, cooing and saying the friendly things women say to little children.

He shrank back from them. To him, these were unfamiliar life forms. Threatening.

Just then, the elevator arrived and its doors motored open to reveal four large, bearded men in leather vests, with chain wallets and “do rags.” Now, it was the turn of the real-estate ladies to shrink back. They would take the next car, thank you.

Little Ervin marched onto the elevator ahead of us, and as the doors closed, he addressed the men.

“Do you fellows ride motorcycles?”

These men looked fine to little Erv. Beards? Motorcycles? Check! So they made conversation as we all rose to our floor.