Monday, May 18, 2015

Mennonite joy ride

As I walked beside George through the hallway and down the stairs, I started feeling really nervous about someone seeing me get on the motorcycle with George. I couldn’t even imagine how that phone call would go if my mom found out about that.

When we got to the street where the motorcycle was parked, George turned to me and said, “When we get on the motorcycle you have to put your arms around me and hold on to me really tight, okay?”

“Ahhh, okay,” I replied nervously with a shaky voice.

George took the helmet out of my hands and put it on me to make sure it was fitting right and snug. He put his helmet on and got on the motorcycle.

I put my hand on his shoulder to help me get over the seat. I slipped and fell on to the seat and slid myself away from him to the back of the seat, as far as I could, so I wouldn’t touch him.

He turned the motorcycle on and just sat there waiting for me to hold on. I worked up the nerve to put my index fingers on his sides barely touching him.

He waited for a while and then just took matters into his own hands. He grabbed my legs and pulled me right up against him, so close that there wasn’t even air between us, he reached back, grabbed my hands, pulled them around his waist and just held them there for a while.

“This is how you have to hold on to me. It is very important that you do not let go of me, okay Anna? Now lock your fingers into each other and stay like this until we get there.”

I moved my lips but no sound came out until I cleared my throat. “Yes, George. I got it and I will.”

“Okay, ready?” He asked.

“Ahh… I… am…” I replied.

“Uh, Anna?”


“Breathe!” he ordered.

“Okay, George.”

He slowly pulled onto the road and took off. I was thinking, “I don’t even know where we are going but we are on our way,” as I held on even tighter. I didn’t look at the road I just focused on breathing and the smell of George.

Before I knew it we arrived in Port Stanley at the beach. I recognized it -- I had been there the summer before. George pulled up to GT’s parking lot where a long line of motorcycles were already parked.

He parked the motorcycle and got off, then helped me get off. I held onto his shoulder as he helped me take off the helmet because I had no balance -- I was too shaky.

“Well, what do you think? How was that?” George asked as he smiled and winked at me again.

I couldn’t even look at him with an honest face. I was afraid that the combination of the heat and the butterflies in my stomach were going to melt my insides as I answered him, trying desperately to hide the obvious, “It was very good.”

He put the helmets down and said, “Let’s go to the beach.”

There were a lot of bikers with big beards, lots of tattoos, and long hair everywhere. They all said hi to us as we walked past them to the waterfront. We walked a long way to an isolated area with a pile of rocks. We sat down on them and just stared at the waves for a while.

“Well, Anna; how does it feel to be twenty?” George asked.

“Not much different except I just feel like I am starting my life now and these whole twenty years have gone to waste.”

“What? Oh Anna, stop being so negative. Those twenty years are not a waste at all. You learned many valuable life skills that a lot of people who went to school will have to learn later. Try to look at it like you are just doing it in a different order than most people, and there is nothing wrong with that,” he said.

“That sounds way better when you say that than when I think about it. I will try to think about it the way you say it.”

He just looked at me and winked and that was his answer to that.

“Why is Friday the thirteenth so important and what do all the motorcycles have to do with it?” I asked.

He explained what Friday the thirteenth was all about and that Port Dover Ontario was the place where hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists ride to every time a Friday is on the thirteenth. “Some of us occasional riders just go to a local beach closer to home.”

My Low German thoughts couldn’t process the idea behind a superstitious day that people celebrated. I took mental notes to look up in the dictionary and superstition was the word I was going to look up first. I wanted to learn more about it, especially because this mysterious date also happened to be my birthday.

“Okay, let’s go get something to eat at GT’s. I hope you are hungry, they have these amazing chipotle quesadillas. That’s what I always get, you want to try them?”

“Sure, sounds great,” I replied.

We walked through big crowds of people lying in the sun, kids playing in the water. A lot of half-naked people playing volleyball. The air smelled like coconut mixed with fried onions.

There were big groups of biker people with tattoos and long beards sitting at the bar drinking beer. They all nodded their heads at George as we walked by them.

“Do you know all of them?”

“No, we just have this thing where we all acknowledge each other. It’s just what we do.”

We sat down at a table on the patio across from each other, close to the beach. The waiter came over and George ordered the chipotle quesadilla plate with fries and an icy watermelon drink for each of us with no alcohol.

While we waited for the food I looked at the beach a lot. I tried not to make eye contact with George because every time I did he smiled showing off his perfect teeth and winked at me. I wasn’t sure how much more of that I could handle, he knew it and enjoyed it immensely.

I had always wondered if his teeth were real and thought, “Since this is already awkward I’m just going to ask him.”

“Hey George, can I ask you something?”

“Sure, ask away. Anything you want to know about.”

I got really nervous, but I worked up the courage and went for it. “Are your teeth real?” and made eye contact.

He tried really hard not to laugh because he could tell I was being serious. He cleared his throat, smiled, and said, “Yes Anna, yes my teeth are real.”

I could tell he wasn’t expecting a question like that at all. I felt like I had to explain why I would ask him something like that. I told him that in my colony in Mexico a lot of people have really bad teeth and most of them get dentures at a fairly young age. I think a lot of people don’t want to bother fixing their teeth and just get dentures because that way they think they will have perfect teeth for the rest of their life.

“You thought I had dentures?”

“Yes, teeth like yours don’t just grow, do they?”

“Well, I guess mine did, but with regular dental visits of course. I don’t know, I haven’t really thought about that and no one has ever noticed my teeth before,” he said, trying so hard not to laugh.

The waiter brought our drinks over. George grabbed his drink, held it up, and said, “Happy birthday, Anna,” as he winked at me again.

I blushed and said, “Thank you. Thank you for all of this and everything you have done to help me.” I wanted to say so much more but I just didn’t know how to say what I was feeling.

“Anytime, Anna. It really has been my pleasure. You have been a good distraction. I have enjoyed helping you figure things out up to this point and I’m looking forward to doing more of it,” he answered.

I took a sip of the drink and noticed a small white watermelon seed in it. I fished it out with the straw and put it on a napkin.

“Okay, that’s it! Now it’s my turn to ask you something and I’m not taking you home until you tell me what the story behind your watermelon seed phobia is.”

I felt my heart skip a beat as I turned red like a tomato and thought, “Oh, crap -- how am I going to tell him about this? He can see right through me. He is not going to accept some bullshit answer because he already knows there is something about this that I can’t get over.”

I thought I was saved when the waiter brought the food. I bowed my head and said my mealtime prayer. When I finished I didn’t lift my head I just opened my eyes and glüpst (glimpsed) at him through my eyelashes. He was looking right at me and winked again.

I thought, “Oh man, I already have a hard enough time looking at him as it is. How the heck will I be able to look him in the eyes after I tell him about this? This is going to be the most awkward meal ever.”

He got all comfortable in his seat, took a bite of a french fry, and said, “Well, Miss Wall, how long are you going to keep me waiting? what’s it going to be -- are we going to spend the night here, or are you going to tell me?”

I took a deep breath, ate a fry, and said, “Okay, I will try, but I don’t think you will get it. It’s a really long story and it won’t make any sense to you.”

He pulled his fingers through his hair and said, “Well, I don’t have any other plans for the whole weekend.” Click here to continue reading my story.

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