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 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, since 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.