just like you

01_hells_angels_harley_51314

October 1999

My sophomore year of high school, about six months before I got my driver’s license. My then boyfriend (a wise-beyond-his-years 17-year-old) was driving my little brother and I home from school. School let out early on Fridays. It was a beautiful day—a perfect day for ice cream.

“Mmm, that looks good. What kind is that?”

“Gold medal ribbonduhhh!” grinned 13-year-old Derek. Chocolate ice cream was dripping from his cone all over his hand.

“I should have guessed,” I laughed.

“What kind did you get?” my boyfriend asked, grabbing a chair in the sun. He had a strawberry cone.

“Peach.” I winked.

“Mmmm.”

hells angels

Image: Jason Hunt (Pinterest)

Suddenly, we were distracted. A large group of motorcyclists had just roared into the parking lot. They were dismounting their bikes and walking heavily—clunk, clunk, clunk—towards our pleasant spot in the sun. Apparently they thought it was a good day for ice cream, too.

As they approached, I saw black leather and shiny boots. Their bronzed skin boasted jagged skulls and barbed wire and other fading tattoos. Their vests said “Hell’s Angels.” They smelled funny.

I wrinkled my nose.

“Don’t be rude, Jess!” hissed my boyfriend after the men had tromped into the store.

“I’m not!” I protested, but he cut me off.

“Yes. You are.”

Just then the first of the men came out of the store. He was slurping a vanilla milkshake. He sat down at a nearby table and pulled out a chair for his buddy who was exiting the store. The men started chatting (to me it sounded more like grunting) until another buddy came out, and then another, and another.

Our perfect spot in the sun had been ruined. I was not happy. My boyfriend could tell.

“Let’s go,” he said.

In the car, an old Crysler LeBaron with cushy seats he was borrowing from his grandmother, my boyfriend scolded me. “Do you know what you looked like just now?”

“She looked like a witch!” Derek jumped in and leaned forward eagerly from the back seat. He still had chocolate all over his hands and around his mouth. He started giggling.

“Did not!” I gave him a playful shove back into his seat. “Put on your seat belt! And wipe your face!” I threw an extra napkin at him.

“Disgust was written all over your face.”

“It was?” I stopped. I looked at my boyfriend.

“Yes!”

“Oh.” I frowned.

“What did they do to you?”

“But, I . . .” Suddenly, I felt bad.

“Don’t you know those Harley riders are just like you?”

We are all alike, on the inside. — Mark Twain

All people are equal; it is not birth but virtue that makes the difference. — Voltaire

ride

Image: David Byrd (Pinterest)

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28 thoughts on “just like you

  1. Sounds like a really mature 17 year old :)

  2. movableteacher says:

    Hell’s Angels…Denmark?

  3. Terri Nelson says:

    So Jessica, I would say you were/are wise beyond your years to reflect on the words your then boyfriend, wise beyond on his years left in your mind. Taking a little pearl here and there is a wise thing to do. As I sit here reflecting, I think of words and ideas people have unknowingly said to me. Sometimes they are people who are very flawed, you know the type that can seem ignorant or slow or “beneath” us. Being open to ideas, truly listening is wise. Thank you for this article today.

    • Jessica says:

      Thanks, Terri. I can’t say I’m the most observant person in the world, but over the years certain instances/lessons/comments made *do* stand out in my mind. This was one of them. I became a better person that day. We are all flawed.

  4. Rahburt says:

    great story and great of you to take his criticism productively :)

  5. If you’re short on reading material, take a look at the mighty Hunter S Thompson’s Hells Angels.

    His first book – put him on the map.

    In true reckless, psychotic, Gonzo form, he spent a year on the road with various Californian marauding biker gangs during the 60s.

    Mildly terrifying stuff but an absorbing, sympathetic story.

  6. I’ve helped design motorbike magazines in the UK, and found these guys great fun to have drinks with! – and personally was the best job I had!

    • Jessica says:

      I’ll bet they are! I was very foolish in my younger days… I still have much to learn. But I would love to have drinks with some of these guys! And that’s really neat that you designed magazines! Your wood-working stuff is really cool, too. Thank you for stopping by my site!

  7. Heath Capps says:

    Obviously, great story and well-written. But I am still stuck on the LeBaron thing. I thought those were the coolest cars, ever. I had a lot to learn too…

    • Jessica says:

      Haha. I’m not sure we ever thought it was cool, but it was functional, and that’s what counted. We weren’t concerned with appearances. Just with getting from point A to point B. Thanks for commenting! Loved your post about coaching! :)

  8. dinkerson says:

    I like the moral of this story. This is well written so that the words rolled through my head easily as I made my way through it. It should be noted, also, that it took some courage to write, here, about the attitude that you allegedly exhibited that day.
    In your defense, you may have one of those faces that conspicuously broadcasts whatever slight thought enters your mind. They say I do. ;)

    • Jessica says:

      Sorry it took me so long to respond! I’m glad you felt it read well. Sometimes I’m not sure… I need to write things a few days ahead of time to let them sit before I post them. :P

      And, yes. I was a little punk who needed to have her attitude straightened. I still need that sometimes. It’s easy to judge others but harder to look ourselves squarely in the eye… Although, it’s true: my face does tend to give my thoughts away before I can check them. Glad I’m not the only one!

  9. Know-All says:

    cant deny the angel its wings, can we? :) the story was wonderful yet simple! loved it…

  10. fragjamsey says:

    I adore your writing. So true and passionate. I look forward to reading more of your posts! :)

  11. I had to keep reading to see what would happen next…nicely done

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