Writer's Ramblings

First Impressions

Written by  February 29, 2008

You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. What a profound statement that is. No second chances here baby, one shot per customer. I always make a first impression that’s for sure, a good one, who knows. Guess it depends on the people and circumstances, for example; I, looking quite scruffy, come roaring up to the local biker bar on my loud obnoxious Harley, shut her down and back her to the curb. All there think “Wow what a cool brother biker.” Do the same thing in front of church letting out on Sunday morning and they think “Wow what a miserable asshole sinner!” So I guess what I’m trying to say is, there is a thin line between being cool and being an asshole thus a thin line between a “good first impression” and a “bad first impression.”

It was late spring 1974, and I was living in Pompano Beach Florida. I had just gotten married and transferred down with the company I worked for in New Jersey. I loved it in Florida! It was like Heaven to me, the weather was beautiful. There were four different fishing piers within minutes of my house and I could ride all year long. What more do you need in a place to live? This particular Friday evening the fish weren’t biting so I was doing the other thing I like best…riding. It was a perfect night for it too. I was out on my 1973 Harley XLCH 1000 Sportster, the ultimate bike of the day, the hottest ride in town. The weather was cool, the bike was cool, and I just felt cool cruising down the highway. I decided to head on down to Fort Lauderdale Beach and on the way stop at The Stewarts Root Beer Drive-In down off The Old Dixie Highway. It was a real old time 50’s car-hop place. All kinds of people hung out there. It was a place to see and be seen. I figured I’d make my entrance and see what kind of attention I drew. There are usually some bikers and car buffs there hanging around, checking out each others rides.

Soon enough I’m sitting at the traffic light by the entrance to the drive-in. The light changes and as I’m pulling in I look to see a couple of cars and pick ups in some spots and parked right in front of the building is about 15 Harley Dressers. I see a bunch of bikers and chicks hanging around too, all flying club colors on their jackets! Uh oh, shit, I hadn’t figured on this! You never know what to expect or what might happen with a biker gang. Could be trouble, big trouble, kind of intimidating you know! Being from The Oranges, a very rough area of North Jersey, my “survival conditioning” kicked in. I learned at an early age that you’d better make the right first impression or you’re in deep shit. You will be looked upon as “prey,” show any sign of weakness and you will be killed and eaten! Survival conditioning all starts in your mind, you gotta believe it; that’s right, I’m cool, I’m bad, I’m nobody to be fucked with man! I had to transform myself into “The Easy Rider”, a combination of Captain America and Billie. I was wearing my shiny new stars and stripes Captain America helmet so I was already close. As I ride in, all eyes are upon me. I take it nice and easy, cracking the throttle just enough to let everyone know I had arrived without being obnoxious about it. With my wrap around shades on, I could feel the coolness just oozing out of me. I was in the zone baby, “The Cool Zone.” I could see the bikers looking at me and I knew what they were thinking…Hmmm, I thought I was cool but this guy is the ultimate and all the girls were thinking…Hmmm, he’s cute, bet he’d be great in bed!” Yep, mission accomplished, impression made. I pulled her around in front of a space directly across the lot from the biker club and backed her in with the mandatory, but tasteful, revving of the engine. I reach down and shut her off. I remove my Captain America helmet, turn and set it on my three foot tall sissy bar. With my fingers, I pull a few knots out of my long wavy hair, and brush the bugs out of my beard. I had the look Dude; some said a cross between Charles Manson and Jesus Christ. I put my shades up on top of my head and gaze over at the club and in my best Marlon Brando, in “The Wild Ones” impression, I nod, my lip curled slightly. I get some nods back…. this was a positive sign, I figured the odds were now good that they wouldn’t stab me, beat me senseless or give me any kind of trouble at all. Guess I’ll go and introduce myself. I’ll just lay my baby over… and over, ooover, NOOOOOO… OH SHIT! THE KICK STAND YOU ASSHOLE…clunk! You forgot to put the kick stand down YOU IDIOT! Then I hear this other noise and turn to see my Captain America helmet rolling through the next space and right under a pick up truck! Could this possibly get any worse? I couldn’t help but notice a little discrete snickering coming from the boys across the way. It’s very hard to look cool and bad when picking up your motorcycle in a parking space and even harder when lying on your stomach under a pick up truck retrieving your Captain America helmet. It is truly a humbling experience.

When I finally got everything squared away, I figured the only thing to do was to press on with plan A and introduce myself. I walked up and announced in a bold voice, “Hi I’m Manfive Irish…how you like me so far?” Well as fate would have it this was a group that loved to laugh and laugh we did. We laughed so hard that one of the girls even wet herself. My face was hurting, we laughed so hard. The name of the club was “The Southland Playboys.” This was a very cool bunch, totally locked in the 50s. Elvis types all riding big Dressers with stereos, trick paint jobs and lights everywhere even in the spokes (don’t ask me how they did it). They met up every Friday night at The Stewarts with their women and rode out somewhere new each week for dinner. Then they’d blast out to a club and dance for most of the night. They were heading for Miami that night and invited me to ride with them and party. I did and had a great time. From then on every Friday night my wife and I met them at Stewarts and we would all ride out and proceed to have the time of our lives.

We got many more laughs retelling that story about the first meeting especially when we incorporated what was going through our minds from when I first pulled in. Only a few of the girls would admit to an instant desire to have their way with me…. but I’m sure the rest were lying.

So first impressions….I think they’re overrated.
Maybe it’s the “last impression” that really counts.

By Manfive Irish