It was a very nice restaurant up north in Michigan, kind of upscale but not nosebleed, that had a front wall that could be entirely removed for the warm summer months, providing all the benefits of outdoor eating from almost anywhere inside. It was a Saturday evening in July, with temperatures hovering in the 70s, a perfect up north atmosphere. We were enjoying a really nice beef-tenderloin-in-a-pastry thingie, when up from the stoplight a block away there arrived about two dozen or so bikers, riding slowly by, in a parade of their own.
Mind you, these were not Hell’s Angels types for the most part. There were four or five scruffy desperados, but the rest were a diverse group: millennials with their millennial assortment of facial hair and slick heads, geriatric hippies, dentists with Harley-Davidson logos on the backs of their $500 leather jackets, middle management types bolt upright on their rides. All had at least one thing in common: they had enough money to spare for high-end motorcycles.
Well, okay, they had two things in common. They also loved to race their unmuffled engines as they rode slowly by. Maybe you’ve heard the biker mantra, “loud pipes save lives”? If it’s true, then enough lives were saved that evening to make Our Lady of Lourdes blush with envy.
Well, three things. This disparate collection of humanity loved nothing better than annoying anyone who thought they were above them, which, from their perspective, was anyone who was annoyed by them.
It worked to perfection. For the duration of the din, all conversation stopped, since it couldn’t be heard anyway. Around the room, there were a few slow-burning stares, a smattering of giggles, and some outright smiles, but most did what I did: sigh with resignation and wait the invasion out.
This episode strikes me as the perfect metaphor for current politics. The bikers represent the loud Trumpist minority, and the rest of us divided but generally unable or unwilling to stop them, many silently wishing that at least mufflers on motorcycles could become a thing.
If only our political malaise could be so easily cured.