Not long ago, I did something I would have never featured myself doing;
I rode to our local Harley-Davidson dealer and bought a ride/gremlin/guardian bell.
Yeah, who’d a-thunk it? I’m not really a bell kind of guy, I’m a Honda kind of guy
and bells aren’t really a Honda kind of thing. I believe the custom originated with the
Harley-riding crowd of Oakland, California, in the early 1960s. Maybe its roots are in
the demon-repelling temple bells of Asia or the tripwire alarms soldiers used to warn
of the stealthy approach of hostile forces, no one knows for sure.
I do know for sure that I was in the wind shortly after my main compadre called and
asked if I wanted to ride into town with him to pick up a quart of
Genuine Harley-Davidson Motor Oil for his recently acquired 1974 Sportster.
The bike was built by a brother who has been forking Harley-Davidson motorcycles
for,easily, 40 years. It shines like a new penny and runs like a scalded dog. That being
neither here nor there, we got on the expressway and expressed our way on over to
the Harley dealer. It was like old times.
Okay, it wasn’t exactly like old times: You can’t just walk into a dealership, light up a smoke,
grab a couple quarts of oil and check out the knockers on Fred’s ol’ lady while she takes
your post-dated check. No. You make your way through the waxes, polishes and
air fresheners till you find the accessory counter. Oil is behind there, somewhere.
While my bud was negotiating his purchase, OL and I wandered over to where they sell
ride bells and other doo-daddery. While a sharp eye or a ready wrench is probably
more effective, bells have a place in the tradition of the Harley owners sub-culture
as gremlin repellent so we bought one for our bud.
Since the bike sports a “Blessing of the Bikes” sticker, indicating that the bike was, well, blessed,
we were asked if the bell would negate that blessing. A pagan friend once told me that
he didn’t have any trouble with a Christian blessing, he’d accept divine help from any quarter,
so I suggested that the bell is a supplement rather than a replacement.
I guess buying the bell was our way of blessing our bud, too. He was a long-time Triumph man
before life put him on a sidetrack and I think he might have been a little
self-conscious riding a loud sporty Sporty. At any rate, the little present tickled
him so OL and I were blessed, as well.
Another fine old tradition we keep is the coffee break.
Afterward we expressed back to the big Bluff without incident, accident or gremlin.