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A few minutes with Anti-Rooney

By Terry Roorda

(For best results, the following should be read aloud, doing your very best Andy Rooney impression.)

Like most of you, I deal with the onset of foul winter weather by retreating to my private bunker, surrounding myself with photos and memorabilia and reminiscing wistfully about road trips past and my life as a biker generally, all while getting stinking drunk and weeping. I like my bunker. Here I can do things I can’t do in The House; things like wear my shoes, smoke cigars, listen to Rob Zombie and, in the case of today, avoid the gathering of family and friends waiting expectantly in the living room.

I don’t know why they call it an “intervention.” Wouldn’t it be better to call it what it is? An ambush, maybe, or sanctimonious meddling? I think so. We use too many euphemisms in this country. And have you ever wondered why bikers feel compelled to collect any object, artifact or oddball tchotchke that has anything to do with Harley-Davidson? Here in my bunker I’ve got a positively bewildering collection of those things, and since I’ve got some time to kill until my dear family and friends tire of their nosy holier-than-thou caper in the living room and clear the hell out, let’s take a few minutes to consider some of this stuff.

Here’s some Harley-Davidson playing cards packed in a “limited edition collectible tin.” I have two of these tins. I don’t know why. They’re even numbered to assure authenticity. One is numbered 173,007, and the other is 173,014. That doesn’t sound very limited to me. And over here’s “Manifold Mike,” my Harley-Davidson beanie baby, though it doesn’t actually say “Beanie Baby” on it for reasons of trademark infringement, I suppose. We have too many lawyers in this country. I also have a Harley-Davidson bulldog plush toy. I don’t know what business a man of my age has owning beanie babies or plush toys unless he’s smuggling drugs through the U.S. mail, and I gave that up months ago. The service just isn’t reliable anymore, and stamps cost 42 cents. That’s an odd figure. I wonder why they picked it. I remember when they were 3 cents.

Here’s something I like, a Harley-Davidson Zippo lighter. I have several of those, but this one’s special because it’s brass and has “1983 Harley-Davidson” engraved on the case. I guess that was the year Harley neglected to celebrate their anniversary and emblazon “80th anniversary” on everything they made. They sure don’t make that oversight anymore. They go silly over any anniversary at all, even the 105th. That’s an odd figure, too.

And here’s a real rarity, an unopened pack of Harley-Davidson Full Flavor Cigarettes. These are “Filter Kings” which is interesting because “Filter Queens” aren’t cigarettes at all, they’re vacuum cleaners. And “Speed Queens” are washing machines, but can also mean crank whores, who are also called “Hoovers” which are also vacuum cleaners. Someone should look into that. Harley’s not in the tobacco business anymore. I guess they wanted to distance themselves from all the controversy, but what I don’t get is why a company that has a patch for everything and fills pages of their P&A catalogue with patches of the Bar & Shield and “Live to Ride” and eagles and roses and skulls and such doesn’t have a nicotine patch. Maybe my family and friends would buy me one.

Some of this stuff in the bunker isn’t even officially Harley-Davidson goods, but is unmistakably Harley, and some of it’s even weirder than the licensed knickknacks. Have you ever wondered why, just because you ride a Harley, people think they can check you off on their gift list with just any white elephant that looks like a motorcycle? And why you hang onto it anyway? Like this full-sized mailbox my bartender gave me that’s made to look like a flame-painted dresser with an entire front end protruding from the door. I guess he thought I actually pick up my incoming mail. Maybe he thought that because I was mailing out so many plush toys from the bar. I get a lot of mail. Mostly it’s junk ads and dunning notices and subpoenas, so I pretty much stopped taking delivery of it back when postage stamps cost 25 cents, which was a sensible figure. I remember when they were 3 cents.

I think my favorite item in here is this whirligig weathervane with a biker in shades and welder’s cap who furiously pumps the kicker of his flathead whenever the wind blows. The wind doesn’t blow much in the bunker, though, except when my family and friends have wedged a crowbar in the doorjamb and forced it open a crack. There he goes now. The tailpiece on the weathervane is a globe-topped gas pump. Remember those? I miss them. You knew where you stood with those devices. Pull out the nozzle, throw the lever, pump your gas and speed off before some pimply-faced kid could hit you up for money. The gas pumps these days confuse me. It seems no two are alike, and I need to put on my reading glasses to follow directions on their little screens, and I have to remember my zip code to make my card work. I remember when zip codes were only three digits. And I remember when door hinges were made of sterner stuff and didn’t just fly off the jamb when some friend or family member put a shoulder into it.

Gotta run.

It’s all right here in the diaries.

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