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Harley's Angels Chapter 09


So the drinking had begun this Fourth of July ... drinking in earnest ... drinking like a fish ... drinking like there was no tomorrow. Drinking like only folk from Wisconsin can drink. In accordance with being Wisconsites they booze with a zeal that seems hardly human. As drinkers, they are binge-oriented. I began to introduce myself around and drew a dead blank. The hostility was obvious but muted. For most of the year these guys are quiet. Around home, on their own turf, they blend in. Professionally and personally they make few waves and no trouble. These are the guys wearing Dockers and lower-tier Armani suits- boring ties, commuting to work in silver Toyotas and Audis. They aren't used to the spotlight and weren't sure they wanted it shining full on while they were drinking hard and spending money their wives might miss.

Soon enough, though, after I'd bought some rounds, they seemed to embrace me – sometimes literally, with the occasional piece of Harley-Davidson gear thrown somewhere on my person – an HD bandana here, a three inch leather HD bracelet there, an HD gimme cap up top, and the piece de resistance, a leather HD vest -for a while I was their Harley doll and I needed to be dressed up in order to be accepted. And once in, as long as you're wearing the HD colors – orange and black – and flashing the HD ID - green - you're always in.

The Harley's Angels are very definitely an upper-middle-class phenomenon. Most of the Middle-Aged are the sons of the people who run the local chamber of commerce and the Lion's Club. They're family folk. Wife stays home to raise the kids kinda folk. Golden Labrador Retriever kinda folk. I've never met a Harley's Angel who didn't claim to have a home town...they've got roots, sometimes generations deep. You wonder who throws the pancake breakfasts? The ones who organize the five hundred dollar scholarships for two worthy high school seniors? This is them.

They come from towns where half the population are related- cousins and aunts and uncles...looking in the phone book shows pages and pages with the same last name. The dentist and the car dealer owner and the local ice cream shoppe- always shoppe, never shop- owner and the GP doc. Norman Rockwell painted them. Think bourgeois. Think kitsch. Think the Great American Middle. Rockwell said, "Without thinking too much about it in specific terms, I was showing the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed." And these were the guys you never noticed. That's why they embraced the biggest, chromiest, noisiest machines they could -they might have been okay with not being noticed for most of their lives, but every man has the desire to break out...break free...once in a while and HD motorcycles is how they chose to do it- all the bark of American motorcycles with none of the bite of actual outlaws...the outlaw look at a Rolex price point.

At least half the Angels are ex-military- primarily National Guard...the weekend warriors...two days a month two weeks a year. Sure, there are some ROTC guys in there, but mostly there's more money to be made outside the military than in. The Guard is good for serving your country and networking...yeah weekend warrior is fun and gets you out of the house – until you can afford that brand new Harley anyway- but it's those connections you make with people who think just like you that last a lifetime. Serve your country and serve yourself. Can I get an Amen?