Writer's Ramblings

The Day My Son Became a Man

Written by  April 30, 2007

It is a fine and wondrous thing, the day your son becomes a man. Doesn’t just the sound of those words bring up a welling of love and pride in your heart? You just want to shout it to the world: TODAY MY SON BECAME A MAN!! I bet most of you are thinking about the time you said those words about your son. You know, like when your son graduated college or got his doctorate degree, or maybe when he became a police officer or fire fighter. Perhaps some of you think about when your son graduated Army or Marine boot camp. Wow, my son has become a real man, a military man!! Talk about pride. Yeah, I bet for people riding around in cars, those are real red letter days in the life of a boy becoming a man. But of course, I ride on two wheels and I’m not talking about crap like that. No, not me, I’m talking about the day my 13-year-old son saw his first naked woman. I kind of tear up a little whenever I think of it.

People in some worlds could certainly make an argument for college or military graduations having a great impact on a boy’s transition into manhood; a biker’s world is just a little different. Our journey into manhood takes a slightly different path from that of normal, polite society. Milestones and priorities in our world are a little more “earthy.” One of the top things on the mind of most bikers is the desire to see naked women. I said “one of the things.” There is, of course, one thing above seeing naked women that we think about all the time (besides our bikes). In most males these thoughts begin at a very young age and peak at about 20 and then continue on unabated until we die (hopefully while making love), this being the ultimate dream of all men.

Jay and I left early that Sunday morning for the 40-mile ride out to The Village of Schoharie. Few rides can compare with a misty early morning cruise through beautiful rolling farm lands and countryside. We were meeting with the group at 0800 at the diner in town. Other than the fact that I had my young son Jay with me, I didn’t expect this trip to be anything different from any of the other times I’d been to the hill climb.

The event takes place in August at an old ski slope at Caroga Lake in upstate NY. It’s really beautiful country at the bottom of the huge Adirondack Park (covers 90% of northern NY). Usually several hundred bikers, cut from the same cloth as my group, show up to drink beer, party, and watch crazy people try and ride motorcycles up a very steep hill. There’s a hall and bar there, with an outdoor stage. They have the usual vendors and activities set up all around in tents and trailers.

I was riding with my niece, her husband and their group of farmer and mountain men bikers from Schoharie County, New York. I call them The Schoharie Scruffies. Really cool people who know how to ride, party, and totally look the part while doing it. On their old pan and shovelheads, they make quite an impression wherever they go. Drag pipes, oil leaks and bald tires were the rule. One of the guys had a fender that was rubbing on the edge of his bald front tire and he sounded like a huge bumble bee going down the road. For a long time I couldn’t figure out what that annoying noise was. I asked him if he wasn’t worried that it would blow. He said “Nahh, it’s been like that for two years now!” Okay, I didn’t ride too close to him. Another guy named “Large” was this giant about 6’7” probably close to 400 pounds with no sign of a neck. He wore a real Nazi steel pot for his helmet. He said his uncle took it off a dead German and brought it back after the war. Uh huh!! He rode a big old Harley Dresser with no bags or front fender. It looked comically tiny with him on it.

When the pack was sitting at a light for too long he would become impatient and start jumping up and down like he was trying to crush the pavement, his Nazi helmet leaping about six inches off his head and then crashing back down with an audible thud. He would jump over and over looking like The Incredible Hulk, all the while roaring and bellowing, and shaking his fists at the light. Once I asked him what he was doing and he whipped around on me and says”I’m shaking the f*ck*n road to make the f*ck*n light change! What the f*ck does it look like I’m doin’? “Oh” I said, “That’s what I thought.” Then the light changed and he turns to me while flashing a wide toothy “Billy/Bob” smile and says, “SEEE!” I’ve learned that anyone that big, in a Nazi helmet, is always right. Uuuhh…and I mean no disrespect, Large…sir.

So after breakfast and a fuel stop we’re on our way to Caroga Lake. The ride is about two hours and takes us through rolling countryside past many picturesque farms and quaint historic little towns. Most people have no concept of how beautiful and rural upstate New York is. We’re not New York City; that’s for sure, although I dearly love NYC. When the road got close to the hill climb things got a little jammed up, but we finally made it to the parking lot. The entrance and parking lot are like a hill climb in themselves; steep grade, washouts abound, with loose gravel and cobble size stones everywhere. Just keeping the bike upright was a real challenge.

The hill climb was wild and Jay and I enjoyed ourselves. We did the tents, T-shirt and pins thing, ate greasy stuff, you know. As usual it was hot as hell. When the climb was over, it was time for the party to kick into high gear. Time for the Wet T-shirt Contest! I didn’t expect much, you know a couple of girls get a bucket of water dumped on their chest, a bunch of drunk bikers hoot and holler like they’ve never seen a wet nipple under a T-shirt before, and they choose the winner and it’s over. I didn’t think much about Jay standing right there in the front row…with his father. I figured he sees more than this on MTV. Soon the contest begins but there are only two girls!! Well, that was okay because they were incredibly beautiful and nubile girls about 22 years old. The buckets are dumped and the hootin’ and a hollerin’ start in earnest. I’m watching Jay, and his attention intensifies. His eyes were totally fixed on these beautiful wet girls, each trying to out do the other in their “hotness.” All of a sudden one of the girls decides to give herself an edge in the contest and peels off her wet T-shirt!! Now the only thing between her and her birthday suit was a tiny pair of shorts. Not to be outdone, the other girl whips off her shirt too. Now Jay’s mouth has dropped open and his stare has become like dual laser beams. He is looking at half naked girls and he can’t believe it. Soon the inevitable happens and two pairs of shorts fall to the floor. Now they are naked as a couple of jay birds, one shaved, one not!! I’m sure the crowd was still going nuts and shouting but I could no longer hear them. I think I was hyperventilating. I slowly turned toward my young son and witnessed his eyes extending a full two inches out of their sockets and his hair was standing on end. He looked like that guy you see in the ads being blasted with sound while he’s sitting right in front of a speaker. Jay was being blasted by the power of this totally unbelievable sight that has unfolded right before his eyes. At 13 years of age the great unknown was being revealed to him. He now saw what was always so carefully hidden from view. Just as suddenly as that, his life had changed. He would never look at a woman quite the same way again. Now he knew!

He now had reached the first level of every boy’s quest for “Carnal Knowledge.” He might not have been quite a man yet, but he was no longer a little boy either.
He couldn’t wait to get home and tell all his friends!

Jay is now 27 years old. I sent him an e-mail asking him how old he was when we went to the hill climb. His response:

Ah, the hill climb. I think I was maybe 12 or 13? I think. Are you going
to write a story about that?

“Ah, the hill climb…” That says it all.
By Manfive Irish