Bar Stools and Their Occupants

So, I pull out the bar stool and peel off my leather jacket to sling it across the back of the stool. I couldn’t help but notice the couple sitting in the next two stools, clad in black with Killer Creek Harley t-Shirts, with similarly slung leather jackets. They were obviously the riders on the late model Heritage we parked next to in front of the bar. My sister Kerry and I had headed out that day with every intention of going to the funeral of a fellow biker, Allen Owens, who had unfortunately died suddenly the week before. We had unknowingly screwed up the time of the funeral, and arrived at an empty funeral home parking lot. Damn it, I liked Allen. He worked tirelessly in support of HOG. He was passionate about rider education. He and his wife were real bikers, nice people. He always had a smile on his face, and a kind word to offer. We could use way more dudes like that in this world, not 1 less. He was WAY too young to ride to Valhalla. After parking the bike at the funeral parlor, we made a few calls and realized we were off the mark by a couple hours. A mile away was the honky tonk I found myself in, where the story herein originates. I had been there a couple of times before, and it was democratically decided to return there. The Indian summer heat was not discerning and neither was I, knowing a cold beer is a cold beer regardless of what honky tonk you’re in or what circumstance brought you there.

When we pulled into the bar’s lot, we parked right next to the Heritage, the 2 lone bikes in a sea of cages. We strapped the helmets to our handlebars and trudged across the lot encumbered by the day’s sun, in our well intended black funeral clothes. We meandered into the bar and approached the two stools closest to us, that were the ‘return’ stools as the bar swung around 90 degrees from its 50 foot length to its end against the wall. These were, in fact, the ‘end seats.’ Perfect, as it gives ample opportunity to inspect all who enter and all who exit. Key seating position in a honky tonk is very important. NEVER, ever sit with your back to the door. This is sage advice from my father, from days gone by, when bars were rougher and people were tougher. It was obvious who the people were who came on the bike. They were seated to my left at the long length section of the bar. We were elbow to elbow on the corner, as they say. The couple was obviously together, dressed in biker regalia enjoying lunch and a drink. The guy was a bit older than I, and he had what I guessed was a date or a girlfriend to his left. She was very pretty, blue eyed, blond, and if I dare say, a very shapely figure. He was unshaven, thick set, not tall, but very pleasant and friendly. Honestly his Rolex threw me a bit as my RUB flag went right up. However, the more we spoke, the more I realized that they were actual riders, and not just that cliché we all think of when you cross paths with a ‘Rolex Biker’ (i.e.) ‘Rich Urban Biker.’ It became clear to me that these two had some miles under their belts and that they had ridden together before. It was still my impression that this was a girlfriend and not a wife. When introductions were exchanged, the titles of “husband” or “wife” were avoided, we only exchanged first names. As my first impression melted away, I began to wonder if the lady with him could actually be his wife. He was well spoken and obviously made a good living doing whatever he did (nice watch, nice bike, etc… ) so my thoughts turned to his ‘date.’ She looked a bit younger than he and better looking, no disrespect intended. Now, I must disclose here that my wife is much better looking than I, and a lawyer as well, but I am, in fact, clever, and attribute my landing her to cleverness, not looks nor money!!!! Perhaps, this was the case here. Although, maybe he’s a rich Ferrari driving businessman who hooked a hot date for a Sunday afternoon scoot on one of his bikes Who knows.

Nonetheless, we sat for about an hour and exchanged pleasantries. We spoke of Harleys and riding and cold beer. I assumed they thought Kerry and I were a husband/wife team, so we explained about the funeral, and how Kerry works for me and is, in fact, my sister. I explained this, just in case they were thinking exactly what we were thinking. I was trying to ‘head it off at the pass,’ as they say. Our explanation turned into their explanation and the conversation turned to their kids, their house, his business and so on. I suspect neither of us knew if the other was telling the truth. It was funny how both sides obviously pondered the same, silly question. Either way, we parted company and I held a loose grip on my skepticism. If she really was the cute blond girlfriend, good for him. If she was his wife, all the better!

Weeks later, you can imagine my surprise while sponsoring one of Killer Creek’s outdoor parties, when the very same couple approached me and my sister Kerry at our vendor display. There they were, in all their biker regalia, arriving on their Heritage, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, to enjoy a beer and some biker camaraderie. They grinned widely and greeted us with warmth and familiarity, more than that of non-bikers who met at a bar. It turns out, they’d been married 30 years! They had grown kids and were empty nesters, enjoying some newfound free time. They laughed and admitted they doubted our brother/sister story too. This was very funny, indeed!

So, the next time you meet someone on a bar stool, you may wonder who you are dealing with. It’s only natural to wonder. We people are very curious creatures. We wonder about things that are not even our business to wonder. From all this wondering, I learned one thing. The old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover.’ I thought I learned that lesson a long time ago… I guess not! Well, better late than never, I suppose!

Well, signing off for now. Ride strong, ride safe and in the end, make sure you ride home.

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