Wednesday, November 26, 2008


My son is a motorcycle mechanic, which when you own two motorcycles, is almost as good as having a heart surgeon in the family (unless of course you have heart problems, in which case it's probably not that useful.)

I had the distinct pleasure of assisting him to a very slight degree while he performed annual services on both Beast and the rockster, which still doesn't have a name. I tend to refer to it in my mind as "El Otro" and for now that's a good enough handle. It's better than "Rustor," the name the weird logo on the tank seems to suggest.

In any case, I mostly stood around in the cold, trying to stay out of the way and occasionally passing tools when they were requested. Eventually I worked my way up to performing routine minor tasks, though always under his watchful eye. We talked about matters great and small, as we always seem to do when around bikes, and we both recalled instances from the past where our roles were somewhat altered; me recalling perhaps our first mutual motorcycle wrenching encounter, which is documented in photos of him holding a 10/12 box wrench and peering thoughtfully between the spokes of Campaigner's rear wheel—which is taller than he.

He recalls hearing me swear for the first time (and at great length, apparently) and I assure him he must be mistaken. This afternoon that began in bracing cold with a biting and omnipresent wind fades away in a gently graying twilight, calm, mild and tempered with the low sun shining through a bank of thickening clouds.

I guess it is every parent's greatest wish to watch their child accomplish something society values, they enjoy and they are good at. It was endearing and fascinating at the same time to watch Phil work with grace, confidence and competence, recalling the child peering through the spokes. He excels at something I can barely comprehend and have never more than dabbled in with mixed results for my efforts.

The finished product supports my impression. I was eager to test Beast out on Monday, but had to wait another day to see the difference. When you ignore routine service and maintenance over a long time, you tend to not notice the cumulative decline. But Beast fired up with a vengeance despite the bitter cold, ran ferociously and handled like a champ; I had clearly forgotten over the years how aggressive a ride it is. Beast's original tautness and response were back, and it felt...polished again.

Nice job. Well done.

1 comment:

Madeline said...

An almost heart-breakingly lovely portrait of you two - my two most important menfolk, two of my closest friends - interacting. I'm so proud to have you both around...