"Stay centered, don't lean too much and hold on," instructs my friend Jessica as we get ready to head out for the evening--solid advice for a night of dive-by drinking. She straddles her 1978 Kawasaki KZ 200 and kicks the ignition a few times as I fiddle with my helmet. I've never been on a bike before. Jess rolls it out from the garage and once she brakes, I hop on back and bear-hug her tightly. Even as we ride down her quiet residential street, the adrenaline starts pumping. Like a kid being shielded from the scary bits of a movie, I peek over Jessica's shoulder, intermittently, between eye clenches.
We get going on PCH, my equilibrium settles after a few minutes and we go over a bridge. That's when I peak, and the realization hits that despite being incredibly vulnerable and bombarded by a flurry of naked wind, it's a Zen moment. There's a calmness within; you, the bike, and the darkened sea breeze are on the way to a bona-fide biker bar. Just as I'm really getting into it, we reach Mother's Tavern. Damn!--we're the only people who've actually arrived on a bike. What a bunch of pansies! Jessica pulls up front, right under the American flag, as she should.
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We pop in and a cover band with a stand-up bass is playing loudly. We roll up to the bar and grab a seat. After being served tapped beers in Mason jars (no liquor here) by a young brunette, I turn to take in the scenery. Bright red walls are stapled with hundreds of defaced dollar bills. Peanut shells cover the ground, and bras and panties hang proudly from the ceiling. Maximum occupancy of 49.
A man with an untucked long-sleeved cream-collared shirt is sitting next to Jessica. He leans over and asks if I need my glasses to see or if it's "like an Oklahoma City thing." The reference is lost on me, but I figure it's a basketball thing. (A Google search later confirms my guess, Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook is known for wearing fake spectacles.
"Oh no," I shoot back. "I'm as blind as a bat. Do you wanna try them on?"
He happily obliges and then gasps: "Holy shit!"
"I know," I crack. "If I didn't have these things I'd probably end up going home with some pretty ugly guys."
He takes my glasses to a lady across the bar (read: four or five steps away). "Hey, try these on," he tells her. After a few more nudges she puts them on. "Oh my god!" she says. "Where's your dog?"
He comes back over, returns my Coke bottles and serves as our entertainment for the rest of the night, spouting endless wisdom ("Hey, if you ever run out of money here, just grab a dollar from the wall!") and repeating slurred lyrics from "Lay Lady Lay" by Bob Dylan and "The Wrong Way" by Sublime--he was especially fond of the "But I'm staring at her tits," part.
The guy (whose name is Guy, incidentally) was kind enough to buy Jess and me a beer then piss off the bartender by attempting to throw free peanuts into the red candles atop the bar. Didn't end up making a shot, but he did hit the rim and get rather excited when I made a snide remark about a rim job. Halfway through his beer, Guy disappeared.
M'lady had to stay sober so we didn't stay long, and I just stuck to the Shock Tops. We hopped back on the bike, and I rode bitch with a lit grit clenched in my teeth, secretly hoping she'd take the long way home.