xtitsx: (poodle)
( 9 Jan 2017 11:37 am)
i've had “get a motorcycle” on my Long Term To-Do list for a few years now.
i've always wanted a motorcycle because i want to look badass and cool like the Terminator in Terminator 2 or the Hells Angels, but it was only in the past two or three years that getting myself a motorcycle was ever a real possibility.
i always told myself that it would be a logistical problem, that the PSE and i move around so much with all of our stuff in two Volvos, and how would we be able to do that if we have three vehicles between the two of us?
but it's easy to find reasons not to do something and at a certain point i just said 'fuck it! i'll worry about that when it comes!' and decided to pull the trigger.
for all i know we can teach the Monster how to drive some time in 2017.
late at night on Christmas Day it occurred to me that the year wasn't over yet and maybe i could still eek this one out.
i Googled “how do i get a motorcycle license in the state of Texas?” and began researching.

it turns out that to get a motorcycle license in the state of Texas you have to take a fifteen-hour driver's ed. course from a private company.
which seems like bullshit, but Texas is all about privatization of government services.
i was less livid about having to pay a private company for motorcycle lessons then i am, say, about the private for-profit highways they have all over the place because i don't have the slightest idea how to ride a motorcycle.
it's probably for the best that somebody show me what i am doing first instead of me just turning up at the DMV and crashing a 650 pound hunk of metal into a building.
there were numerous places all around Fort Worth that offered the Basic Rider Training Course but one out in Irving, which is halfway between Fort Worth and Dallas, about a half hour east of where i live was cheaper by about $40 if you booked during the week.
i paid $179 and booked a class start date of 29 and 30 December.
there were classes even earlier, but i like to sit and digest things for a while and this was all happening kinda fast.

i woke up at 7:45am on Thursday, 29 December, ate a banana for breakfast, brushed my teeth got dressed, kissed my girls goodbye and drove a half hour over to Irving, to a Kawasaki dealership where motorcycle class was being held.
i arrived around 8:45, fifteen minutes early for the 9:00am class.
class as held at a cramped little table in the back of the dealership, back where they sell the bike helmets and other paraphernalia.
there were seven other people in class with me, the maximum number of people the class could accommodate.
i expected the class to be a bunch of people who don't have anything else to do for two weekday afternoons but i was surprised to find a healthy mix of good guys in the class.
-a thirty-nine year old bearded fat man who was going through his second divorce. this was his midlife crisis
-an eighteen year old kid, a freshman down at Texas A&M who got pulled over by a cop for driving his scooter on campus without a motorcycle license
-a dirtbag who spent twenty years in prison who fancies himself a jailhouse lawyer
-an Egyptian pediatrician in his first year of residency
-a Korean kid with a furry fox-tail key chain
-an executive with Toyota who gets to travel all around the world
-some fat Mexican guy who didn't really matter
-our instructor was an old California hippie named Kim-Bro.

after introducing ourselves it was time for class to start at 9:00.
Kim-Bro had us open our Basic Rider Training Course workbooks and take turns reading paragraphs and pulling out the salient details.
every few paragraphs he would say “that's important. highlight that” and we would do so.
“motorcycles have convex mirrors” “do not red-line your motorcycle” “apply both breaks when stopping” “if you drop your helmet, it probably needs to be replaced” “have a space cushion and escape path when riding” “present yourself so that you can be seen” “consult your owner's manual for proper tire pressure and suspension settings.”
this went on for forty five pages with a ten minute break every hour.
finally, at noon we had worked our way through the Basic Rider Training Course workbook and were ready for our written exam.
this was the written-test required by the Department of Motor Vehicles. passing this would mean we would not have to take a written exam at the DMV.
it was twenty-five questions, multiple choice, closed-book. we had to pass with eighty percent.
i don't know how i did, but everybody passed.
then Kim-Bro told us to reconvene at 1:40pm at a local mall up the street.
for the rest of the class we would be working on practicum.

i had to give a ride to the dirtbag prison lawyer because of course dirtbags never have cars.
we drove over to the Irving Mall, found where we were supposed to be in the back of a parking lot next to Dillards, then went into the mall for lunch.
the Dirtbag Prison lawyer stuck with me all the while, chatting my ear off about all the pro se litigation he has done.
he was interesting for about about five minutes but it soon became clear that he knows more big-words then he understands.
but, the thing about dirtbags, if you give them even the slightest bit of attention they'll latch on to you like hungry puppies and for the rest of the two-day class this piece of shit was my little shadow.
i had lunch with the Dirtbag Prison Lawyer and the Toyota Executive who thankfully came over to join us in the food court.
i talked to him about Japan, trying to freeze the Dirtbag Prison Lawyer out of conversation as much as possible.
i had Auntie Anne's for lunch, which was a treat.

when class reconvened at 1:40 in the back of the Dillard's parking lot we found eight motorcycles set up, keys in the ignition ready to go.
three cruisers, three sport bikes and two dirtbikes.
i took one of the cruisers because they look the coolest.
for the first hour we practiced mounting and dismounting the bikes safely and walking them from one end of our corner of the parking lot to another.
we didn't get to turn the bikes on until a little before 3:00pm, when we practiced driving the bikes, very slowly.
motorcycles operate with a manual transmission and you have to squeeze in a clutch on the left handle bar and kick the thing into gear with your left foot.
motorcycles start in first gear then go up to neutral, second gear, third, fourth and fifth.
to get to first gear you squeeze in the clutch and kick the gear-shift pedal all the way down, which is easy enough.
and going up to second gear is also not that much of a challenge, but i had a hard time finding neutral in between the two gears and i stalled the bike out more often then anybody else in the class.
Kim-Bro said that my bike was just touchy, but i think he was just being nice.
i figured it out by the end of the day.

at 5:00pm it was quitting time.
Kim-Bro dismissed the class and told us to reconvene back in the mall parking lot at 9:00am Friday morning.
before i could leave, however, the Dirtbag Prison Lawyer hit me up for a ride to his apartment a few miles away.
in the ten minute ride, the Dirtbag told me about how his roommate, his old prison cellie, had a baby with his own daughter, and how there is drama in the house because he started using heroin again.
he also said he wanted to get my number and suggested maybe we go into business as lawyers together, but i dodged that bullet more then twice.

on Friday i was back to the Irving Mall parking lot outside of Dillards at 8:45am.
the Dirtbag Prison Lawyer tried to sidle up to me, but i went out of my way to dodge him.
at 9:00 Kim-Bro told us to mount 'um and start 'um and we spent the next several hours actually riding the bikes around the parking lot, doing a series of maneuvers around cones set up in different patterns.
ride and break, ride and swerve, weave in and out between the cones, do u-turns.
Kim-Bro kept telling us to be one with the bike, don't fight it, ride your ride, and other hippie shit like that.
and i got it. i did well.
i was at the head of the class figuratively and literally, speeding around the track when the rest of my classmates were still crawling.
i got stuck behind the Fat Mexican guy more then twice.

we took a break at lunchtime and i got to talking to the Texas A&M kid for a while about his granddaddy's 1,000 cattle farm that one day will be his.
then i went into the mall's food court, bought my self a six-inch vegetarian sandwich at the Subway and sat and ate with the Egyptian Pediatrician and the Korean who both got Chinese food.
the Egyptian Pediatrician seemed surprised and impressed that i was able to guess he was Egyptian.
the Korean told me about “yellow bone” which apparently is the lightest kind of Black girl they make.
at 1:15pm we were back to the course in the back of the Dillard's parking lot.

we spent another hour and a half practicing everything we had learned in different combinations.
the Toyota Executive wiped out and crashed his bike but he was only going maybe ten miles and hour and only just skinned his knee
finally at 2:45 Kim-Bro said it was time for our road test.
he had us queue up and, one-by-one he watched us preform a speed-up-and-stop, two tight u-turns and an accelerate-and-swerve.
one by one we did what we were suppose do do. some better then others.
a few of us shat the bed entirely but in the end, we all passed.
Kim-Bro gave us pieces of paper that said we'd all passed the course then we all shook hands and that was it.
i suggested we all get together and start a biker gang and everybody laughed but, no, riding in a big group like this is really fun.

class let out at 3:30, time enough for us to rush on over to the DMV to trade our pieces of paper for motorcycle endorsements on our licenses.
i drove the Dirtbag Prison Lawyer and the Fat Midlife Crisis Divorcee over to the nearest DMV a few miles away but the line was out the door.
i left the Dirtbag Prison Lawyer there because poor people don't mind waiting in lines then drove Fat Midlife Crisis Divorcee several miles over to an industrial park where a car was parked that he shares acrimoniously with his ex-wife.
talking to him about his failed marriage made me feel way less bad about my relationship with the PSE.
by the time i dropped the poor man off, i had enough time to drive over to the Fort Worth DMV SuperCenter which is different from the regular poor-man's DMV i had just been to.
even at the SuperCenter there was an hour wait to trade in my regular driver's license for one with a motorcycle enforcement but, without the Dirtbag Prison Lawyer there to annoy me, i waited the wait in peace.
by the time i got to the front of the queue i paid my $16 fee, took a less-then-flattering picture that the cunt at the desk would not let me retake and that was it.
i am now a licensed to ride a motorcycle in the state of Texas.

i had figured that i would take my motorcycle license and sit on it for a while.
that i would worry about getting around to the second part of “get a motorcycle” on my Long Term To-Do list, the actual getting a motorcycle part, some other time.
but, goddamned if i didn't have a fun time at motorcycle class.
way more fun then i expected for something you have to pay a lot of money for with tests.
it doesn't help anything either that it's been, like, seventy degrees out lately.
Law School is coming back around again soon, but i'm hoping that somehow, sometime soon i can find the time to go out motorcycle shopping and get myself a good starter bike to fuck around with.

//[onward ho!]
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September 2017

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