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his motorcycle

And would some Power the small gift give us
To see ourselves as others see us!
-- Robert Burns

Way back in the 1970's I lived a short distance from the UCLA campus, near a block of fraternity houses. One evening a couple of dudes lounging on the steps of a frat house lured a friend and me over for a chat. I never got past the foyer of the house; I ended up in a long conversation with one particular fellow who was actually quite charming. He pummeled me with over-the-top flattery and even while I knew it was a line of bull, I loved every second of it.

I remember bits and pieces of the conversation: He said he worked at "Monkey Ward," and I had never heard anyone refer to Montgomery Ward that way before and I laughed. He began to rhapsodize about the beautiful color of my eyes, and I finally interrupted him to say, "I have some terrible, terrible news for you ..."

"NO!" he shouted as he surmised my secret. "Not ..."

"Yep," I confirmed, "I'm wearing contact lenses."

"NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!" he screamed, falling to his knees as he succumbed to the full weight of this horror. He then proceeded to wail with disappointment.

I'm not exaggerating. Guys came running into the foyer to see who was dying. I had to explain to the panicked frat brothers that the commotion was on account of I wear contact lenses.

In spite of it all I was enjoying this nutty nerd's company. I didn't know how long I could tolerate his eccentricities, but I was willing to find out. He asked if I would see him again, and I said that would be OK.

We got together that weekend and he pulled up on a motorcycle. He invited me to hop on the back, and so I did. As we moved slowly through the city streets he told me all about his motorcycle. It was clearly his pride and joy. It was English, I think, a rare brand that only the very coolest of people even knew about.

We made our way up to Mulholland Drive and I must admit, it was gorgeous. It was a brilliant, sunny day, the view was spectacular, he was a safe rider and it was a lovely experience -- except for one thing. This guy couldn't stop talking about his motorcycle. He waved at everyone, gave a thumbs up to anyone riding a motorbike, and went absolutely apeshit when somebody buzzed by on the same make of motorcycle as his.

I think ithe thumbs-up was the final straw for me. After a few miles I couldn't wait to get off his motorcycle and bid him a fond farewell forever. I enjoyed the geek I met in the lobby of the fraternity house, but the wannabe biker was kinda pathetic.

I thought of this incident while listening to a recent episode of "This American Life." That week's show was about those startling moments when people suddenly see themselves through other people's eyes. Would the motorcycle dude have changed his behavior if he'd been able to see how it was affecting me?

Also: Who cares?

Everything worked out fine in the end. I have no doubt that guy soon found a woman who thought he was perfectly charming both on and off his precious motorcycle. And I eventually ended up with someone who has no interest in owning one.


his motorcycle
janice leber 2014

He met her at a fraternity house
she kinda bubbled, she kinda bubbled
she said yes when he asked her out
without much trouble, without much trouble
right away he knew what she'd like
so he took her for a ride on his bike ...

they're gonna ride (ride, ride) his motorcycle
it makes all the ladies drool
he can fly into the wind
he's so cool, he's so cool
and so they ride (ride, ride his motorcycle)
she holds on to his waist tightly
he's so cool, he's so cool ...

She met him at a fraternity house
and he was thinking she saw him thinking
he complimented her and asked her out
She said OK. She had been drinking.
right away he assumed what she'd like
she played along and she climbed on to his bike
and now she's wondering why?

Why am I riding on his motorcycle?
He really thinks that it makes him cool
Can't wait to run away like the wind
from this fool, from this fool
he's gonna ride (ride, ride his motorcycle)
he love to fly away with the wind
he's so cool, he's so cool ...

writing the song
This song definitely would never have been written if I wasn't doing this song-a-month challenge. I would probably have thought about the motorcycle incident, chuckled and moved on. But because I'm always on the lookout for material, I thought, "I wonder if this could be a song ...?" I heard the chorus in my mind first, "He's gonna ride, ride ride his motorcycle ..." and when I heard, "He's so cool," I started loving it.

It seemed obvious that I should tell the story in two verses, one from his point of view and the other from hers. Clearly it all had to start with meeting at a fraternity house. I couldn't figure out how to work the contact lens controversy into the verses but I will survive the disappointment.

making the video
Once again this animation was created with Anime Studio software, which I like more all the time. It was still incredibly tedious, frustrating and confusing. Sometimes I create a video and I think it's ready to go and when I preview it, one character just unexpectedly goes flying off the screen at some point -- occasionally flying back in a second or two, other times floating slowly up, up, and away. This happens fairly often -- in fact, I have not yet created a video where that didn't happen to one of my characters.

You either laugh, or you cry. Or, in cases like this, you do both.

The Anime software is lots of fun because you can create your own characters with their templates, and give them "bones" for movement. Creating characters from scratch in Flash was so difficult I rarely did it. But as easy as this wonderful software makes animation, it's still awful, just awful. I don't know why anyone does it. I don't know why I can't stop. I really can't tell you why I enjoy it so much, because I really kinda hate it.

I'm already thinking I'll do something in a live-action video for August, maybe for a change of pace. I guess we'll just have to see, so make sure and stop back in three or four weeks as the song-a-month saga continues.