My step-son owns a motor scooter that he uses to run around town and save gas. Yesterday he needed it moved from one side of town to the other and he couldn't do it himself. So he asked me to do it for him.
We were in town anyway so I told him I would do it. I have owned several motorcycles over the years and once rode with a friend across the country from Colorado to Ohio and back. How bad could it be?
The scooter is not in the best of shape. It has been dropped a couple of times and the muffler fell off a few weeks back. So it sounds like lawnmower without a muffler - noisy and annoying. But I could stand it for the short drive across town.
I donned my wrap around sunglasses and headed to the nearest gas station, since the tank was pretty much empty. Contrary to my own rule, I didn't wear a helmet because neither he nor I had one. I'm tall enough that if I sat correctly on the seat I'm sitting with my elbows practically on my knees. So I scoot back a little. And let's face facts - no grown man looks cool on a motor scooter, regardless of what he wears or how he sits. That's just the sad truth.
I had Arden follow behind me to prevent myself from getting hit from behind by some in-a-hurry driver. The mirror on the right side of the scooter is loose so setting it at the right angle lasts only until you hit a bump in the road. (It doesn't have to be a big bump.) There is no adjustment screw to fix it. The left side mirror is loose where it clamps to the handle bars. I tightened up the screws but apparently it's beyond hope because it didn't get any tighter on the handle bars and it kept leaning toward me. But I found that if I held the handlebar just right, with my hand pushing down on the brake lever and my thumb on the base of the mirror, I could keep it at the correct angle and at least see traffic behind me on the left side.
At the gas station I ran into an interesting problem. The gas nozzle had a sensor on it, part of the anti-pollution device, that wouldn't let it dispense gas unless the nozzle was all the way inside the filler spout and the rubber pollution sleeve around the spout. The scooter has a bar across the filler spout right at the top of the tank itself (don't ask me why - I have no idea) and the gas nozzle wouldn't go in far enough to make proper contact. I couldn't get it to work. The attendant came out and saw the bar in the filler spout and said "It won't work with that. Why is that there?" I told him I had no idea and put the cap back on, hoping to find another gas station close by.
I drove about 8 blocks and found an Exxon station. The gas nozzle looked the same but this time it worked. I filled up (all 8/10s of a gallon) and it was time to go. The bad thing was that there are no quiet side streets in Fort Worth that went from where we were to where we had to go. So I had to drive the mighty scooter up one of the busiest three-lane (in both directions) streets in town that intersects with I-20 and is lined with shopping, restaurants and three very large apartment complexes. Fortunately it was Sunday. On any weekday, at that particular hour, that street would have been jammed up with bumper to bumper traffic. Since I only had one mirror I stayed in the far right lane.
As I got closer to the busy area I stopped at a red light and looked in the mirror. Coming up beside me in the center lane was a guy about my age riding a motor scooter. His was more expensive than the one I was driving. It had more "stuff" on it. And he had a little tiny helmet on that looked more like a yarmulke than a helmet. But it had chin straps.
He stopped beside me at the light. We looked at each other and nodded to each other like real bikers - like we were cool. Call me "Easy Rider." Then the light changed and that's when he heard the sound of my scooter without the muffler. He looked over at me and grinned. I'm not sure whether he thought the sound was cool or whether he thought "Geez - listen to the racket that piece of crap is making," but I'm thinking the latter. Anyway, he sped up and moved away from me pretty quickly.
He had a woman, a big woman, following behind him on what I believe was a Yamaha 650. Both the scooter and the motorcycle had temporary tags on them. I found that interesting. (I knew they were together because I followed behind them for about four miles, until they both went off into a local neighborhood.) I'm not sure why he had the scooter and she the motorcycle except that, as I said, she was a big woman - bigger and heavier than he. Or maybe she just wears the pants in the family.
Finally I got to the end of the busy street and turned onto the first of three less-busy roads that eventually took me to where I was going. My motoring adventure came to an end with me and my ride in one piece. My lower back hurt from the angle at which I had to sit and my ears were ringing from the noise. And from my hips to my knees my body was tingling and vibrating - which lasted for several long, annoying minutes.
Like I said - Peter Fonda's got nothing on me. Well... except maybe millions of dollars, fame, and probably a real motorcycle or two. But hey - I had my moment!
Arden suggested that we buy a scooter to tool around our neighborhood. But after yesterday I'm thinking not. Maybe a used golf cart...