Sunday, October 2, 2011
My Motorcycle Driving Test
These were mostly tough guy types. Except the funny thing about this experience is that they really weren't. At least not yet. These established, tough guys were sort of reduced to that awkward pre-drivers licence state of nervousness and vulnerability. With the rest of us looking on, the instructor could announce, you did not pass! You are not in the cool, tough guy club! (Since I was on a scooter I wasn't really even in the running). I loved all the nervous blustering comments. "Well, I'll go first, I'm not worried!" the first guy said with a little too much bravado. When he finished, he asked, "did I pass?" When the instructor said yes, he got this silly grin on his face like he just scored a date with the Homecoming Queen. "Not worried?" I guffawed under my breath. In the course of about an hour, we had quickly formed this little community. When someone failed, we shared in their pain. When they passed we celebrated with them.
Many didn't pass. One guy spilled his bike and got his leg caught under it. He couldn't get it off without assistance and he kept accidentally revving the engine really loudly. He said with a mixture of disappointment, shame, and maybe a little hope, "I guess that means I didn't pass." "Yeah." Was the only response the instructor could muster. We all avoided eye contact. We didn't want to share in his shame. Or maybe we wanted to save face. Whatever. He left as quickly as he could.
It was such an interesting experience because if I had seen these guys riding around in any other setting I would just assume that they were all badass dudes. But I was confronted with the awkward reality that they (read: we) were really, for the most part, just big kids wanting to play on our new toy.
I was confronted with how much of our image is really just careful branding. Try to look tough. Wear the right clothes. Drive the right motorcycle. Grow the right beard. But every so often we are awkwardly reminded of the frailty, insecurity, and vulnerability of others. And I think this shared human experience brings me comfort.
Oh...and btw Heather and I did both pass with high marks.