by Kristin Leary
There comes a time in most girls’ lives, usually between the ages of 15 and 22, when they experiences the Death Ride. It’s sort of a right of passage, if you will.
Prior to the Death Ride, life is innocent. Many of the world’s mysteries intrigue us like what it would be like to kiss ________ (Leonardo? Chachi? Keith Partridge?) or why gym class swim suits have to puff up in the water and suction to every crevice when we get out? Our biggest concerns were what to wear, our grades, who’s dating who and when our zits were going to disappear. Then one night, despite many years of incessant parental warnings and derogatory comments, we hop on the back of Tony Testosterone’s motorcycle. (Hey, he was, like, really cute!)
What we had envisioned as a romantic rolling hug quickly turns into a life altering experience. With the flick of Tony’s wrist, we begin apologizing to God for spitting in the customers’ salads at work, supergluing the diamond back into mom’s earring and returning dresses to Dayton’s the Monday after the big dance. And, as unthinkable as it was just three minutes before, weekly trips to the confessional now seem totally within reason. “Pleeeeeease, God,” we implore the Almighty, “just let me live through this unscathed.”
As our lives pass before us, we freakishly realize that the nerdy science teacher, Mr. Whateverhisnameis, was right after all: scientific principles are useful in everyday life. For example, at 97 miles per hour, your neck muscles cannot adequately hold your head onto your shoulders, sheer panic renders even the most highly advanced nervous system inoperable and, most amazingly, fear dramatically heightens the senses&emdash;now you can smell the alcohol on Tony’s breath.
As cool and tough as Tony tries to be, even he can no longer stand the pain; the last bump he hit made you break three of his ribs, as your fingernails worked their way through his intestines to his spine.
Regardless of how recently this ride took place, none of us can really remember how it ended. The trauma certainly vaulted us into shock, forcing the memory to the far reaches of our minds, never to be revisited again. For me, that’s a good thing. It took me years to get over my Death Ride. I got up the nerve to get back onto a bike after goofing around on an old moped in my father-in-law’s back yard. That led to a few short rides on the back of my husband’s bike, to long trips, to finally learning to ride my own bike.
So, don’t let your Death Ride get the best of you. Find a responsible, adult rider and take a leisurely ride on the back of that person’s bike. You may find, as I did, that not all motorcycles are dangerous. Besides, most of the Tony Testosterones out there aren’t alive long enough to be able to scare you again.