Narragansett, RI II

The Biker stands next to his candy-apple red Yamaha cruiser in the parking lot of Iggy's Doughboys and Chowder Shack. He has square shoulders and a similarly square head topped with thick white hair. He gazes harshly through his bifocals and pushes his suspenders out slightly with his thumbs: "this country is going to hell and it's our own damn fault. We don't got common sense no more and it's gettin worse with every generation." His nasal Jersey accent is thick, but his bike has a Rhode Island plate. He continues: "I mean, these politicians break all the laws they pass—and we just keep voting them in and voting them in!" The Biker's rant flows smoothly, like it is well rehearsed, and his riding buddies roll their eyes and pretend to check their voicemail. "What's this Patriot Act all about, anyway? I mean, sure, it sounds good, fightin terrorism sounds good, but what kinda terrorist is gonna go through airport security when you got forty million Guatemalans running across the border? You think a trained terrorist couldn't get across? Think about it! There's no common sense!" Bored, one of his friends starts up a deafeningly loud Harley and opens the throttle. The Biker is forced to yell at the top of his lungs to be heard. "Come on, Frank! You just blew out my one good ear drum! But yeah, no Democrats, no Republicans, we need to vote in people who respect the Constitution! We need common sense!" Frank's Harley thuds impatiently and, moments later, The Biker caves to peer pressure and hops on his ride, their bikes careening into traffic with a deafening roar. Two miles later they will be talking to a police officer, presumably about something other than politics.

A decision: to change peer groups in high school, abandoning old friends who weren't the partying types, who didn't fit in with the athletic crowd. Initial hopes of living with a foot in two social worlds proved illusory—both cliques speak viciously about each other behind backs and their meanness is contagious. How to stay above the mudslinging? This is an ongoing problem. Impact of the decision: a better, more exciting social life. Regrets? Yes. Staying with the old crew would have lead to a greater sense of personal equilibrium. Was it worth it? Perhaps.