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What it's Like to Crash a Motorcycle

“Damn it. John Burns thinks I’m a dick.”
That was one of the predominant thoughts going through my head as I slid down a Florida highway at 60 mph back in March.
It’s weird how the mind works. Time slows in a crash. Every tiny image burns into memory, so your brain can replay it over and over and over at night for the next who knows how many weeks.
In the moments before I crashed, I was riding the Harley-Davidson Street Rod along County Road 34 in central Florida. I’m not sure which county. The accident report simply records it as “County Code 61,” but the internet can’t agree on which county that is. Maybe I was in Indian River County; maybe I was in Suwannee County; maybe I was in Flagler County; I don’t know. I guess it doesn’t matter; I was somewhere. The road passing through that somewhere was long and straight – not the sort of place where one usually crashes – and the weather was perfect.

“My God, I am so happy,” I was thinking. “I am so incredibly lucky to be here – to live t…

The tell-tale helmet

You see on the left our wardrobe. Or, rather, what substitutes as our wardrobe: two very cheap and unsteady clothes racks bought at Ikea after I moved in with my now wife a few years ago.

To that point, her system of organisation had been bohemian. Important papers were kept in rat's-nest stacks under the bed, along with shoes, books, seasonal clothing and various comedy props she had collected in drunken adventures. Dirty clothes were in a pile on the floor, clean clothes were occasionally shoved, unfolded, into a chest of drawers, but were more often to be found discarded on an unmade bed. Pots, pans, plates and appliances were tucked into corners.

In fairness, she was still in the early stages of recovering from an incredible tragedy. She had by then ceased excessive consumption of intoxicants, was eating healthily, had a steady job and had bought herself a small flat. Her disorder was trivial. She likely would have discovered the wonders of organisation without me.

But, as I say, I brought order. On my night-class-teacher salary I purchased a great fortress of shelves and racks and boxes and chests of drawers. The wardrobe solution was temporary but became permanent once we realised we want to move to a bigger flat –– better to wait until then before buying another large, hard-to-move bit of furniture.

On the larger clothes rack you see where the dresses hang down and cover up whatever might be sitting on the shelf below. What you don't see is between the clothes and wall there is a certain width of space. Enough space for, oh, say, a motorcycle helmet.

I bought my helmet some time ago but still have not told my wife. I am afraid of her reaction. So, for the time being, I am hiding the helmet (1). Our flat is so tiny –– without a single closet –– that this not-a-wardrobe is the only possible spot.

It sits in its (thankfully) black helmet bag, practically out in the open, forever taunting me with the prospect of a fall out. It is like the tell-tale heart: always thumping in my guilty conscience, threatening to expose me.

The other day, I came home to see Jenn had suddenly decided to give the bedroom a thorough cleaning. Items had been pulled from under the bed, shoes from under and above the clothing racks. I arrived just as her hands slowly pushed into the depth of hanging clothes. She produced the sweater I had placed on top of the helmet to cover it.

"What should we do about these jumpers?" she asked. "Should we pack them away?"

"Uhm... uh... yeah... I'll do that," I stammered, trying not to wee myself.

I did my best to sound exasperated, as though I would prefer to let her do all the work of cleaning. But you bet your sweet bits that any and all things related to the clothing racks suddenly became my domain. I cleaned and tidied and placed things in such a way to make it appear the shelves were full, that there was no extra space back there, hidden, where a motorcycle helmet might fit.

I am the Laundry Master these days. I make sure I am the one to clean and put away the clothes. In the morning, as I watch her selecting her day's outfit my whole body tenses. It is hell.

My birthday is coming up next week. I think that would be a good time for me to buy myself something... or, rather, reveal something I bought a while ago.

–––––

(1) "Hiding the helmet" sounds like a metaphor for something entirely different.

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