I'm at the Rockfeller Center, sitting in the audience with Judy and Lisa, who were friends with my old girlfriend Terry. Terry and I were in the eighties, off and on. Terry and I are still friends, but Judy and Lisa are dead. They were party girls; either of them could light up a room. They both drank themselves to death in the nineties.
My favorite Saturday Night Live skit, "Celebrity Jeopardy," begins. Judy and Lisa, sitting each side of me, giggle in unison. They both wrap their arms around mine.
Alex Trebek (played by Will Ferrell): "Mr. Connery, go ahead."
Sean Connery (played by Darrell Hammand): "The day is mine! I'll take 'Famous Titties' for 400."
Alex Trebek (looking exasperated): "Titles, Famous Titles."
Sean Connery: "Damn!"
Alex Trebek: "And the answer is: 'This movie title is taken from the name of the book Gone With The Wind,' Mr. Connery."
Sean Connery: "Dolly Parton!"
Alex Trebek: "TITLES, Mr. Connery. Not TITTIES."
Sean Connery: "Not a fan of the ladies, are you Trebek?"
We laugh, the three of us. We laugh hard. Judy kisses me on the cheek. Lisa kisses me on the cheek. "We'll see you at The Wheel, okay? Don't wake up."
For a few moments, I'm outside of Hussong's Cantina in Ensenada. I'm in handcuffs, leaning up against an Ensenada Police Department patrol car. Hell, all I did was push my fellow gringo into the crowd so the little cop wouldn't split his head open. I look at the little cop. "We both already know how this ends, officer," I say. "The lieutenant shows up, listens to both our stories, then tells you to let me go." "Yeah, you're right," says the little cop. Then, just as it really happened that New Year's Eve in 1978, he leads me through the crowd waiting to get in the bar. The crowd boos when they see me in handcuffs. The cop continues to lead me through the crowd to the bar, where, with a flourish, he removes the handcuffs. The crowd cheers. The cop leans close, shakes my hand, and says, "Good seeing you again, amigo."
Yeah, I remember that weekend in Ensenada. The next day, I suffered through the worst hangover of my life.
But now, I'm walking into The Wheel. It was a biker bar up on Highway 33 above Ojai, and for the twelve years I owned a Harley--from the early eighties until the early nineties--it seemed like a second home. As I reach the door, I look back. I feel a pang as I see it: my 1980 FXS Low Rider, all black and chrome. I walk in, and there's Mary, the owner, an angel in a 300 pound body. She's already got a beer waiting for me. She died a few years ago from complications of diabetes. Sitting at a table, I see Judy and Lisa again. Sitting with them, I see Bill Greene. He died in the late eighties while on a camping trip. Everyone liked him, and everyone made fun of him because he rode a Yamaha. Robin is sitting there too, and she's looking stunning, because she's actually smiling. She died when she had an aneurysm and rode her Sportster into a telephone pole.
I hug Judy and Lisa again, shake Bill's hand, give Robin a kiss on the cheek. "I'm jealous that Judy and Lisa got to spend more time with you," she says, with a twinkle in her eye. That gets to me. As guy who grew up thinking of himself as a goofy-looking kid, I always feel surprised when a woman compliments me. Even in dreams.
Abruptly, I wake up. It's four in the morning, so I decide to get out of bed. I brew tea and get dressed. Remembering a mountain lion had been spotted in the area, I walk outside to check on the chickens and the llamas. Everything is okay. Then, as if on cue, I hear the rumble of a Harley on Bear Mountain Road, a mile or so away.
I close my eyes, standing there in the mild late-winter chill. I listen to that sound. I love where I live, I love my wife and son, and I'm grateful for my life in the here and now. But for a moment, as the Harley's muted roar fades into the darkness, I feel strangely homesick.
March 22, 2007