Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Book Covers

When I was in high school I was an avid reader of Mad magazine. One month Mad included tear-out book covers with seemingly sensational titles to cover otherwise boring books.

One of the fake covers had "Sex and Love" in large text and in tiny text at the bottom it read, "and 10,000 other words are included in this abridged dictionary." Another book cover had "Lolita" in huge text with a picture of an attractive young girl below it. At the bottom in tiny text it read, "is not the title of this boring book."

I applied "Sex and Love" to a copy of "King Lear" and "Lolita" to a copy of "A Tale of Two Cities". The next day I took both books to school with diabolical intentions in mind.

When I went to my study hall class, I  sat down in front. The teacher, Mrs. Eckland, was also the Home Economics teacher and a well-known guardian of student morals. I gave her a few minutes to get settled and then I picked up "Sex and Love". She looked over at me, stormed over to my desk, and grabbed the book.

She barely had time to get settled in her chair again when I popped up "Lolita". She came unglued! She marched over to my desk and grabbed "Lolita" out of my hands. She went back to her desk, picked up "Sex and Love",  and took the books and me to the principal's office.

Here she launched into a shrill rant about what a horrible degenerate I was reading such filth right there in the classroom. When she finally calmed down a bit, I picked up "Sex and Love",  turned to the title page, and pointed out that the book was actually "King Lear".  I then showed that "Lolita" was actually "A Tale of Two Cities".

I said, "I realize that King Lear is a bit controversial in some circles and A Tale of Two Cities is just plain depressing, but I don't think reading either of them merits this level of opprobrium. As a matter of fact, in English class last year, both of these books were required reading."

I turned to Mrs. Eckland and said, "I think there's a lesson we can all learn from this. Perhaps it's true that we shouldn't judge a book by its cover."

The principal, Mr. Frerichs, said, "Mrs. Eckland, why don't you go back to your class and I'll take care of this." When she was safely out of earshot, he shut the door and burst out laughing! He said, "Dave, as principal I should be telling you that you shouldn't do things like that. It's disruptive to the class etc, etc, but I have to admit it was pretty damn funny!"

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Bikers and Blue-hairs

1976 was our country's bicentennial so I decided to attend the summer long celebration in Washington D.C. I quit my job, put together a minimalist pack, and headed out of Omaha on my Triumph.

I was going through Cincinnati when I saw a British motorcycle shop. I decided to stop in and get some chain lube. While there, I got to talking with some of the guys who were hanging around. It turned out they were planning to make a trip to Bowling Green, KY the next morning to attend the National Motorcycle Drags. Their small group of British bikes was going to make the trip together with a large Cincinnati Harley group. They invited me to join them and I accepted.

All together there were about 40 bikes. The Triumphs, BSAs, and Nortons were all clean, well-maintained performance bikes. The Harley group included everything from high dollar choppers to oil leaking rat-bikes. They also had an old school bus that was driven by the wife of one of the Harley riders. It brought up the rear of the convoy and was there to deal with breakdowns.

These guys had obviously done this sort of thing before. I've seen military convoys that weren't this organized. Everyone kicked in $40 before leaving to cover tolls and gas. Any money left over was earmarked for beer when we got to Bowling Green.

You can imagine the chaos that would ensue if 40 bikes each had to stop at a toll booth and fish for change. The leader of the Harley group went through the toll booth first, counted the bikes through with the toll taker, and then paid all the tolls at one time. It was a brilliant solution.

When we stopped for gas a similar approach was used. You couldn't have each of 40 bikes put in 1 or 2 gallons of gas, go inside, pay, and then pull out. The gas station would be jammed up for an hour. Instead, all the bikes lined up at one pump, filled up, and then pulled out into the parking area to wait. When the last bike filled up, the Harley group leader went inside and paid for all the bikes.

At one gas stop, two well dressed, blue-haired old ladies walked out of the gas station to their Oldsmobile just as the bikes started filling up the parking area. Soon they were surrounded by motorcycles of all types. What happened next was truly amazing. The old ladies started walking around the growing collection of bikes, talking with the riders, and asking questions. It was almost like a couple of grandmothers had happened to run into their grandchildren at a gas station.

I marveled at the stereotypes that were being shattered.