I was lunching recently with some Boozefighters and we were discussing, among other things, the biker subculture in this area. My friend said that, taking into account all the characters, the diversity of the people involved with motorcycles, the similarities but huge differences between motorcycle clubs, the conflicts and yes, sometimes drama to be dealt with, he could sum it up in a few words. He said, “Lisa, I say this with great respect for everyone who rides a motorcycle, our culture is the “Greatest Show on Earth.” He did not go into detail but I knew what he meant.
I’ve met the most interesting people on my journey from biker event to club party to charity rides, to benefits to help a brother’s defense, or in honor of a fallen brother. It used to surprise me when I would learn that a biker was also a devoted family man, or that he was a professional businessman in his “other life.” Now, nothing surprises me, yet I am continually impressed and amazed with the range of personalities one encounters within the biker culture. I tell my non-biker friends that if our country was run by a biker, we would probably have much less of a problem getting things done. Maybe our elected officials could learn something from watching the respectful behavior of the men at a motorcycle event. This is stuff you should have learned in Kindergarten, yet many outside of this sub-culture seem to have lost their basic sense of common courtesy or how to greet each other. For example, at this particular lunch, when I walked into the restaurant, all the guys stood up and offered me a chair. It didn’t matter that half of them did not expect me to be there, they still accepted my intrusion and greeted me with open arms. This happens whenever I’m around bikers, not just my favorite Boozefighters.
Maybe it’s because bikers are in a way forced to learn to respect each other, and I’m not just referring to prospects of motorcycle clubs, I mean respect from the road to the bar. If at first that seems unfair (the notion that you “earn” respect), it really is a lesson everyone should study. Of course there are those men who grew up in the kind of household where the women were adored and treated like princesses (my house was like that, lucky me, the only girl with 4 brothers and a strict Italian father), and I find those men already seem to know the respect “ropes,” but we are not all that fortunate to have been guided by respectful role models. This is where the wise old greybeard enters the picture. He is the one who passes on the traditions and the values that bikers hold in high esteem. It is a combination of those traditions and values which serve as the beacons in times of conflict. Those who honor those principles are the ones who survive and thrive for future generations. I’ve seen the conflicts, I’ve seen some drama, I’ve witnessed bravery, determination, and courage against some pretty big odds. For these and many other personal reasons, I am so very proud to know and love the biker in my world in this “Greatest Show on Earth.”
By the way, be sure to stop on out at the next Boozefighters Chapter 60 party on Saturday, August 20, 1:00-6:00 PM, at the Sullivan Jones VFW Post, 25 Veterans Street, in Poestenkill, NY – see you there!