I’m kinda bored. It’s my job, for which I’m grateful, don’t get me wrong, but it’s, what’s the word—boring. I get a bit of a kick from this blog, but I need something more cutting edge. I’ve been watching this Spike TV program called Gangland, and being a member of a vicious motorcycle gang seems like a neato way to meet new people, travel the world, and instill terror in one’s enemies. (Note to self: Stop saying “neato.”)
There are some problems, of course. How do you get your foot in the door? So I buy a cool Harley. Do I just ride around in one of those sleeveless jeans jackets until people start following me around? And how much gang paraphernalia can you deduct on your taxes? And what if I can’t get anybody to listen to me? Do I absolutely have to shoot them in the head? Would a stern warning and a look of haughty disdain do the trick, at least for the first offense? (You should see my mad face. Quite intimidating…)
First I figured I’d come up with a cool name. Some of the best were already taken: Pagans, Warlocks, Mongols, Highwaymen, and of course, Hell’s Angels. (My personal favorite is Sons of Silence, whose motto is Donec Mors Non Seperat, Latin for “Donuts Are Our Friends.”)
I just started doodling names on a sheet of yellow legal paper. The Aristocrats. (Nah. People will think of that stupid movie.) The Doppelgängers. (People will think we’re a German gang and start asking to borrow money.) The Teleological Suspenders of the Ethical. (Too snooty.) Savage Reprobate Cherubs on Ice. (Sounds like a Perry Como Christmas Special, if Perry Como had been a real creep.)
I finally settled on The Flagitious. You don’t mess with The Flagitious. Because most people think its synonymous with litigious. And who needs that?
The next step was to confer with an expert, someone already deeply entrenched in the gang world. The bikers I communicated with online were either shot, stabbed, or indicted for voter fraud before we could meet up, which was a bummer. (Not to self: Stop saying “bummer.”) So one evening, after everyone here in Wilmington was fast asleep, which was around 8:30, I drove to the “bad” part of town. (To give you a sense of how bad, the Container Store has been out of translucent stacking shelves for months.)
I parked my bike outside The Bloody Obvious, a bar known to be frequented by gang-bangers of all races, colors, and creeds. (The Amish gang, the Bowl Cuts, are notorious for driving so slowly on the interstate that innocent commuters will drive themselves into oncoming traffic just to make something happen.)
I hadn’t taken two steps into the establishment before I felt a blade at my throat.
“I don’t think I know you,” said the mâitre d’.
“Um, just wanted to chat with one of your patrons,” I squealed.
“Yeah? Well, we don’t have patrons, dog face. [really hurtful] We have padrones.”
“Isn’t that Italian for “innkeeper”?
“I — I don’t know. I heard it in a movie.”
“Padre Padrone? Directed by the delightful Taviani Brothers?”
“No. I think it was The Bridges of Madison County.“
“Wow. Real change of pace for Clint, right?”
“Although, he was always more than his Dirty Harry and spaghetti western personas. Ever see Play Misty for Me? Or the raucously silly Every Which Way but Loose?”
“Of course. But it’s his later stuff that’s really amazing.”
“I cried at the end of Gran Torino. That cruciform figure lying on the ground…”
This went on for about 45 minutes. At which point “Hector” introduced himself.
“So you think you can just become a gang-banger?”
“Either that or a notorious international kingpin of some kind. Although I hear that’s really about who you know. And my wardrobe would really need updating.”
“Let me see your bike.”
We stepped outside, and he circled my hog.
“This thing has training wheels.”
“I had to borrow my nephew’s. The chain broke on mine.”
“You’re better off just going back to your boring middle-class life. This world is too dangerous for you.”
At which point I stepped within six inches of his face. “My confirmation name is Dangerous,” I growled.
“Really? That’s one wacky church.”
“It was the ’70s. Things were in flux.”
“Ah, mine too. You know, I actually attended a hobo Mass?”
“I believe it. The catechesis was awful in light of the council.”
“But that’s what I’m sayin’!”
“I think things are calming down now, though. Orthodoxy is the new black.”
“Although I still find the patristic studies of Henri de Lubac of great value, despite some of the excesses of the reaction against neo-scholasticism.”
This went on for about 45 minutes, at which point I decided it was best to head home, lest I miss second dinner. (Note to self: Stop saying “lest.”) Of course, I had to give “Hector” all the cash I had on me, my cell phone, and my glasses, which he called a “consultant’s fee,” and he made me promise to friend him on Facebook. But we parted amicably.
I do still feel bad about the whole thing.
I’m not on Facebook.
After that, I decided to stick closer to my own “hood” (gang talk). I put up an ad at my local Lutheran church. The pastor frowns on gangs, frankly, because “they’re so noisy.” He prefers hackers (“you have to use your noggin’ in that vocation”) and those Nigerians who offer to deposit money in your checking account. (Church missions have suffered accordingly.)
My ad has produced some interest. A 50-year-old, recently divorced mother of two with sciatica is looking to get out of the house more. A former buyer for Macy’s luggage department seems poised to join up, if he can find a way to hook his respirator onto the back of a bike. (His nurse would ride in the sidecar.)
I may need to rethink this.