As a teenager, I once went on a motorcycle trip with my parents. My father, having grown up in rural Oklahoma on the back of a motorcycle, always remembered fondly the thrill of riding. Strangely enough about the time he hit middle age, my parents bought a Gold Wing. They promptly decided to take a trip to Yellowstone with some friends. For some reason I cannot remember, I came along on the back of their friends’ son’s bike. The trip was wonderful. And by that I mean I only remember three things about it.
First, let me explain that I have a bizarre sleeping habit. Being in a car puts me to sleep. Out. Zonkers. Drooling, snoring, nap fests. There is just something about the hum of the engine or the rhythmic undulations of potholes. Luckily I am usually not the one driving at the time.
Originally I thought this was instinctual, derived from cavemen’s nomadic lifestyle; an inborn way to prevent boredom while driving their cars from place to place. It turns out they’d yet to invent the modern wheel and driving with square wheels is way too uncomfortable for snoozing. So instead I theorize that this tendency has its roots with my childhood propensity for carsickness. After years of hearing, “just shut your eyes and try to relax,” whenever I felt sick, I eventually skipped the carsick and went straight to the sleepiness. Just call me Pavlov’s dog.
I am not one of those people who can force themselves to stay awake. I once fell asleep walking, although I promptly woke up after hitting a wall. I can sleep anywhere, anytime. Motorcycles and sleepy car drivers should never, ever mix. You would think that driving down a highway with the wind (and bugs) on my face (actually the helmet’s visor) would be enough to keep me alert. But it wasn’t. I think the poor guy had to practically hold me onto the bike. Not my brightest moment. Nowadays my husband gets annoyed when I fall asleep instead of keeping him company during road trips. At least he doesn’t have to simultaneously drive and try to keep me from falling out of the car!
Secondly, I remember our bike breaking down at the beginning of the trip. I remember having to stop at some small mechanics place to get it fixed. While there my dad decided to order a deli sandwich. I vividly remember the conversation my parents had:
“Dear, what kind of meat do I like?”
“You like the turkey.”
“What is my favorite type of cheese?”
“You want the American.”
I found this conversation hilarious until I was married a few years and my husband asked me where his socks were kept.
Last, but not least, I remember a valuable agricultural lesson. On the way home we all pulled over to rest. I think this had something to do with a sleepy lump on the back of one bike needing stimulus to keep awake (which makes calling it a “rest” kind of silly I guess). It was a gravelly ramp and, as my parents began to slow, cows began to cross the roadway. Now swerving on a bike on gravel is NOT a good idea. They didn’t have time to turn; they didn’t have time to stop. They were going to make some hamburger meat, spiced with that elusive flavor of motorcycle. An instant before they hit that cow, it JUMPED out of the way. You heard me right, it jumped.
So now you know: don’t expect witty conversation on car trips with me, husbands store all their knowledge in their wives’ brains, and, given the right circumstances, cows know how to jump.