Nodding For The New Breed

If you have ever had a motorcycle and spent anytime riding it, you will know what I am talking about. The Nod. The slight dip of the chin, the cocked back head, the wink and smile or the Fonzi-nod, a flip of the wrist with a thumbs up. All just an acknowledgement of one Ultra-Cool brother to another Ultra-Cool bro who is down with just about the coolest form of transportation on two wheels there is. The only way you could travel any cooler is to show up in an F-16 Falcon or an A-10 Thunderbolt. Since your average cool dude is not named Goose or Maverick and we are not living in a Top Gun fantasy, your average Joe Cool rides a motorcycle. Now, that said, there is definitely a pecking order in the biker world.

Let’s see…….. You have your Harley Davidson guys, of which there are three types. The RUBS, Rich Urban Biker’s. The yuppie biker, a definite weekender, who purchased their bike with a dividend check from his Blue Chips. He’s not gonna put more than 150 miles on the hog every weekend, weather permitting and after the first “season” or two, sells it to someone from the next group because he finally realizes that it takes a certain “heartiness” and “rugged individualism” to ride a motorcycle anywhere other than the corner tap” and spoiled RUBS do not like to be uncomfortable. They camp at the Hilton chain.

Next there’s the middle class Harley types. They constitute the largest group of hog owners in the country. Just working class blue-collar men who ride because they love to ride. I have to amend my last statement a bit, as there are white-collar men and women also in that group but it is a small percentage. This group rides in almost all-weather and most likely puts 300 or better miles on the old bike, often with their “old lady” on the back during the weekend and uses the bike for transportation to and from everywhere during the week. These are the ones that keep the old ones running and the new ones coming. They camp in tents from Wal-Mart, usually in authorized campsites and in your State and National Parks.

Finally there is the 1%ers. The outlaw bikers. An often romanticized road warrior, every bit as careless as he is reckless. Jacked up on Early Times, Budweiser, methamphetamine and reefer, will fight at the drop of a hat. Usually overweight or rail thin, smells like stinky booty and used motor oil. Loyal to their own but hates everyone else except veterans and children. Will brave below zero temps in a t-shirt and vest to bring a $25 toy half way across the state to the Toys For Tots drop off point. Camps where he passes out and doesn’t care where he pisses when he wakes up.

Then You got your Rice Burners or Pasta Burners, guys on foreign-made bikes of which there are two types. You got the guys on the “crotch rockets”. That style of bike used to be called a “cafe racer” when I was young. The bikes are light and built for speed. They are also inexpensive and a favorite of inner city youth. Then there are the starter bike guys and gals. Inexpensive bikes from the lower cc models to the 2000 cc cruisers. I call them starter bikes because if you start riding motorcycles, it is usually on one of these and if you like it, you will usually graduate to a Harley Davidson as soon as the purse says it is okay.

So, as I said, unless you are a biker or at the very least, a weekender, you will never understand the nod. All bikers nod to each other. It’s a secret code that the Squares in their “Carriages” were never meant to understand, unless you own a Jeep.

Jeep people are in a class by themselves. Let me fine tune this a bit. I am not talking about a Cherokee, Laredo, Grand or Limited, nor a Liberty, Patriot or Compass. I am talking the real thing baby, the one and only, go anywhere, do anything Jeep. The CJ or the Wrangler. From WW2 to today, no finer four wheels exist on this planet and to own one is, well, as the saying goes, “It’s a Jeep Thing, You Wouldnt Understand”. Wrangler owners are like bikers. They know they are in a class by themselves. At 50 years old and a rider who bears some serious scars, I prefer 4 wheels on the ground nowadays? I lived in Death Valley California for two years and I own a Wrangler. The sweet Ms. Devinne was with me the whole time and we used to disappear into the desert for days at a time. We have had the Jeep places where only a surveyor or an Indian may or may not have been. Up mountains, down into the valleys and lost out in the canyons. In the middle of nowhere. It is a really weird feeling being 100 miles from another living person. It is a feeling of freedom unlike anything. Now I fully understand why people live in the country. There are more people on the north side of Chicago than there are in the whole state of Montana. I would have never had the privilege of experiencing that if I did not have my Jeep.

I have been a concrete walkin’, asphalt drivin’, brick building dwellin’, cockroach killin’, pigeon chasin’ urban dweller my whole life. I bought my jeep in Las Vegas after an especially good run on a blackjack table and have never loved a vehicle like I love my Jeep. I even assigned it a gender and a name. Her name is TRXZY and she’s hot! When I finally got around to returning to Chicago, I was amazed at all of the Wranglers here. I knew about the preferred mode of Yuppie transit, the Cherokee, I just never realized how many real jeep people were in Chicago. Man, there’s a bunch and you know what? Jeep people are cool and we give each other “THE NOD”! Yep, Wrangler folks know that they are at the top of the awesome vehicle food chain. Once, while stopped at a red light, a Hummer full of Cub yuppies pulled beside me. I had my top off of the jeep and it was drizzling out. One of the cubbie yups said,  “get a Hummer”! I wasnt sure if he meant a blow job or one of those gas guzzling monstrosities that are fit for one thing and one thing only, Battle! I calmly looked at that sissy and said, “I can buy three jeeps for what you paid for that thing, I can go anywhere you can and more, it only costs me $40 to fill up as opposed to your $150 and we will go empty at the same time and I can take my roof off and let the sun shine on my fat ass”. His reply was, “at least we are dry”. I told him like I have been telling people since I bought TRXZY, I said, “I would trade ten wet asses for one good day driving in the sun”. The light turned green, they threw an empty beer can at me and hauled ass.

Driving my Wrangler is just like driving a motorcycle except I have 4 wheels on the ground. As soon as April gets here, off comes the top. In May, off comes the doors and I don’t usually put any of it back together until the snow flies. I have a spare tire cover that says “HELL YES IT”S COLD!!!”. I once was in Vegas in November and it was getting pretty shitty out. Spring (my wife) and I started heading back to Death Valley and as we went over the Spring Mountains, we hit a blizzard. What do you do? You keep driving that’s what. Once, while driving through the desert at Panamint Junction, 500 Hells Angels passed us, all of them giving me the nod. That is a strange feeling, 500 big ass Harley Davidson’s with 500 big bad ass mo fo’s passing on the left and right of you is like being in the center of an earthquake of biblical proportions. The Angels were followed by at least a dozen Benz’s, Caddies and pimped out Detroit muscle cars filled with women. I assumed it was the ‘Ol Ladies. Finally, about a mile behind them were four, unmarked Crown Victorias. I assumed the Feds.

Back to Chicago now. As I said, Wrangler jockeys give the nod, the acknowledgement, the high sign just like bikers do. We used to have a Ford Focus and we never got, nor gave the nod to other Focus drivers, only Wrangler people. But, things are changing out there. A Wrangler used to cost under $20k. Now a Wrangler is like a Cadillac. You can spend $40k on one now and a bare bones jeep is still gonna cost you $30k. Wranglers come with navigation now. Navigation in my mind defeats the purpose of the freedom a jeep affords. The whole point is to get lost, to be a pathfinder and to forge your own trail. Boats and yuppies need navigation, not jeep people. Jeeps come with a Modular roof now? Modular? Condos are modular. You are either all in or all out, not modular. The Jeep corporation has lost its way and now caters to the young urban professional. I saw a lady get out of her 4 door wrangler in front of North Center Pilates, go to the back of the jeep and take out a $2k baby buggy and stuff  little Joshua or Caleb or what ever her little silver spoon sucking babies name is, in it. I thought pilates was a greek philosopher and why are you taking your child in there with you?

I have noticed that over the last 3 or 4 years that there is a new breed of Wrangler jockey out there. They are driving the new generation of Wrangler. They use the 4 wheel drive as soon as we get a 1/4 inch of snow. Their idea of off-road is pulling into their driveway. They have children with weird names like Olive and Harlow, Jayden, and Jubal. They have dogs that cost $2k. 2 grand for a dog? I hope he shits golden nuggets cause I can get a dog for free at the pound. The most disturbing thing about the new breed is, they don’t nod. I pulled up next to a guy in a brand new Wrangler last week and I looked at him and nodded. The light turned green and I blazed. He jumped right in next to me and kept looking at me and when we both got to the next red light he stuck his head out of the window and said, “do I know you?”. What was that all about man? I kept nodding at other Wranglers I saw on the street and all the old jeeps gave me the high sign but the new breed just stares at me with a vacant look on their faces. I gave the nod to a few females and they just give me a dirty look, like I just pinched their nipple or something. What is this world coming to?

So here is the dilemma, to nod or not to nod, that is the question? Do I try and let these jerkoffs in to the club or should I just ignore them like they ignore me. Maybe I will start my own, brand new high sign. Yep, that’s what I’ll do. Start a new type of acknowledgement, reserved especially for the new breed of Wrangler jockeys. It is gonna be cool, I think I will wave something at them, like that finger next to my ring finger. You know what finger I am talking about right? It is not the little one, it’s the big one. The one that speaks for itself and it says #%$* you!

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