Article By: Scooter Tramp Scotty
Originally Published In The April 2019 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
Sometime in the mid-1990s… It was in Tucson that I’d met a young girl who seemed half crazy. Using the powers of female persuasion, she’d maneuvered me into making a decision that would allow her the old Electra Glide’s back seat for the duration of my cross-country ride to the Daytona Rally in Florida. Because it was only February I expected that a few frigid day’s lay ahead. I didn’t have as much road- life back then as I do today so, my highway skills were not nearly as refined. In my corner was the advantage of youth, the strength that accompanies it, and the diligent determination to chase any adventure that might lie ahead. Looking back, I also believe that, at that time, my ignorance was a great virtue. In light of this, crossing the country with me might be considered torture by some women’s standards. More stable men probably wait until they’re financially secure before attempting such things. I couldn’t do that. Life is just too short. Therefore, this would be a simple trade of some creature comforts for greater adventure now.
Kim was a real road dog. We camped in assorted spots along the highways and ate saddlebag sandwiches for lunch. She rubbed my back every day and always gave me candy (go figure). She was almost overly attentive, and I enjoyed the entertainment of watching her apply makeup in the motorcycle’s rear-view mirror. Kim was a breath of fresh air. As the weather across New Mexico and Texas grew colder, I took Kim to Target where she was able to buy thermal underwear, gloves, etc. with the store credit she’d acquired before leaving Tucson. And although the weather did grow cold, it was never unbearable and keeping warm was not the biggest of our problems. For showers, we used truck stops and sometimes even made camp in their back lots. Kim had never been east of New Mexico, and the world beyond was all new to her. The Eastern and western foliage of the U.S. is very different, and the change began about halfway across Texas. From there, the deserts fell behind and a green forested landscapes began. Once past the Louisiana state line, most roads became lined with forest so thick they appeared to be an impenetrable wall. I often took breaks from riding the interstate in favor of smaller side roads and on one occasion stopped at the shoulder to admire a real Louisiana swamp—something Kim had never seen before. This excitement seemed to…well…excite her and, as we sat at roadside before this beautiful view.
The sun was waning towards evening as we pulled into the city of New Orleans. Fortunately, the air had grown warmer. This place would be a new experience for us both. Everyone knows New Orleans is famous for its French Quarter, and that was the place we wanted to see. Somewhere back at a Louisiana roadside tourist center I’d picked up a map of the city, and with it, I now laid our course to this most famous section of New Orleans. Many songs and literature have been written about this city and for good reason. The vibe was infinitely different from any place I’d been. Two story buildings lined either side of the Quarter’s narrow streets as the heavily loaded motorcycle slowly traversed bad, potholed, pavement. The unusual architecture was unmistakably French. Though it was a weekday, throngs of folks crowded the streets while horses pulled tourist filled carts or carried police officers. Voodoo shops, restaurants, bars, and live music was everywhere. This was a truly intriguing experience. After parking on the corner of Saint Peter and Bourbon Street, I noted one of the nearby hotdog cart vendors and asked if he’d keep an eye on my bike. “Sure,” his tone was friendly, “And don’t worry, they won’t give you a parking ticket in that spot.” I thanked him before we moved down Bourbon to explore the culture this place is so famous for.
Upon returning to the bike just after sunset, I found a parking ticket tucked into the bike’s windshield. The weenie man, who now had a buddy hanging with him, apologized profusely, and I sought to ease his guilt by noting that these things just happen sometimes. Somewhere in our conversation, he asked Kim if she’d ever been to New Orleans before. When she replied no, he remarked, “You mean you’ve never in your life tasted boiled crawfish, jambalaya, etouffee, or red beans and rice?” “Nope,” she replied. “I just got off work, and I’m just gonna have to take you two to dinner if you’ll allow me the pleasure.” “Well uh, what’s your name?” I asked. “Bill. This here’s my buddy Jack.” I’m pretty sure they were both half-drunk already. “We’d be honored Bill,” I announced. “Lead on.” Onward through the din of antique architecture and nightlife our little band walked. Jazz, blues, and other music flowed easily into the streets as live bands performed in the endless supply of bars and clubs that line the small roadways. I believe that on any weeknight the French Quarter may equal the intensity of a New Years Eve celebration in most any other city.
After entering and then rejecting three different restaurants, Bill finally located one with a menu to his liking. The dinner was huge, not to mention expensive, and we gorged on all the delicacies Bill had promised. In the end, he was almost broke (a drunken hotdog vendor and his money are soon parted me thinks). He and Jack dragged us to a gay bar because it was the only place that sold dollar beers. What a weird night it had been. It was late when we left the city. Some distance to the east, we laid our bed on the ground beside the bike. Although not the greatest spot by any means, Kim seemed not to notice. In fact, she was very much at home in this element. The Mississippi line came and went. Alabama would be next. Long about lunchtime I saw a huge road-sign that read, all you can eat seafood buffet $5; if only we’d go to their casino to eat it. Well, we were both hungry, and this did seem an irresistible deal. The decision was made. I pulled onto a secondary highway that, although some distance out of our way, would ultimately lead to the seafood, pig-out heaven. When five miles had passed, another sign offered the same deal at the same place but set the price at $6. What the hell, I thought, But it’s still a great deal, and we were still hungry.
As casinos generally are, this was a huge place, and it was at the second story buffet entrance where I saw another sign stating a price of $7. Feeling a bit irritated at having been lured ten miles out of our way by a series of lies, I handed the cashier a 20, then made for the food. Crab-legs, shrimp, sautéed shark, clams, oysters, crawfish, etc. It was all there and obviously prepared by a very talented chef. After half an hour of nonstop indulgence, I sat back completely stuffed and started to think, “I told Kim that the cashier only handed me two bucks change from my twenty. And thought outloud…What a f*****g scam. Oh well, it was a great spread anyway.
“That’s bullshit” she retorted angrily, “It’s the principle of the thing Scotty: Five bucks on the freeway and nine at the door. I’m gonna go tell that b***h a thing or two,” and off she stormed. Meanwhile, Johnny Citizen and I, who was having lunch with his teenage daughter at the next table, got to talking. It turned out he was the same kind of pissed off we were. Before long, Kim returned and handed me $18— a full refund. “Way to go, Kim,” I said,” How’d you do it?” “I told them I needed a pay phone because I was gonna call the Better Business Bureau about this blatant act of false advertising. The counter girl pointed to the phone, but by the time I’d lifted the receiver, a manager approached to straighten things out. Here’s your money back Scotty, and it comes with a big apology. At least that’s what he said.” Joe Citizen, who couldn’t help but hear our conversation, chimed in “Did they give you a hard time about it Kim?” “No, Mr. Citizen. It was easy-peasy.” “Well then, I’m going to give it a try,” and he marched off with daughter in tow.
As Kim and I later walked the casino lot towards my bike, Joe Citizen and his offspring caught up. “What’s up Joe?” I asked, “Did you get your money back?” “Full refund,” he laughed, then held out a greenback, “And I want to give you this five bucks for helping us out.” “Don’t sweat it, Joe; it was all in a days work for Super Kimmy here. You know, keeping America safe from the tyranny of corporate bad guys!” Now Kim was laughing. But Joe insisted, so I grabbed the five and handed it to Kim. As we rode back toward the interstate, I remarked, “They ought to put up a sign that says, ‘Come to our free seafood buffet, and we’ll pay you five bucks if you bitch loud enough.’”
Some days later we pulled into Daytona. As usual, I threw my dome tent up in a friend’s back yard. Kim had never seen anything like the rally before, and she seemed a little overwhelmed. Shop, walk, make new friends, party, dance, and ogle bikes, was her constant M.O. Kim just couldn’t get enough. Having been a regular at Daytona for many years, I was more relaxed. If I had a mind to hang with friends or just kick back for an afternoon, Kim would grab the first guy that walked by and sucker him into chauffeuring her around town on his bike. But if I’d planned to attend a drag race, concert, or whatever, she would readily accompany me instead. In the end, we both worked two days at my buddy’s leather-vending outfit. By the fourth day after rally’s end, all signs that an event had ever taken place were gone. I’d decided to migrate south and soak up some of the Key West sunshine, while Kim bought a return ticket to Tucson. At the station, we hugged our last hug and kissed our last kiss before she climbed slowly abroad the Greyhound. As she turned to wave her last goodbye a single tear ran down her cheek.
I never saw her again.