Tuesday, June 03, 2003

There were things my momma taught me and there were things she forgot. I always thought she got all of the major bases covered. Wear clean underwear because you might be in a car accident and have to go to the hospital. Eat your vegetables. Flush and put the seat down. These things have served me well throughout my life. But just when you think you have the rhythm down reality jumps up and bites you.

It was a cool evening and I had just finished a hot meeting. I drove home and nobody was there. Perfect. I dumped the briefcase and dockers, changing into jean shorts, a t-shirt, and a sweatshirt. I put the earphones of my IPOD mp3 player into my ears, my motorcycle helmet down over my head, tossed a fresh piece of bubble gum into my mouth, climbed onto my "Hardley" and tore off into the crystal clear night air. Sweet. There is no better way to burn stress than a late night bike ride through the winding country roads north and east of town. I hit the play button on the mini-stereo attached to my belt and the soulful voice of Sara Groves filled my cranium. Heaven. I turned my brain off. Sara sang. Occasional "thuds" interuppted her as unfortunate bugs slammed into my helmet and face shield at 50ish mph. There was no traffic to speak of, the roads were dry, the stars were out. Even the moon cooperated by beaming it's nearly full face down on me.

I snapped the gum. Sara sang "Jesus, bright as the morning star." I cracked the gum. "Jesus, how can I tell You how beautiful you are to me?" I worked the gum into a frenzy. "Jesus, song that the angels sing." I was on a curved section of Sieler Road when it happened. "Jesus, dearer to my heart than anything." I blew a bubble with my gum. It popped harmlessly and I sucked it back into my mouth. "Sweeter than springtime, purer than sunshine, ever my song will be, Jesus you're beautiful to me." I blew another one. A little bigger this time. "Jesus, bright as the morning star." I felt it touch the inside of the mouth guard on my helmet and burst. Hmm. "Jesus, how can I tell you how beautiful you are to me?" The next bubble was big. Really big. "Oh, oh, oh, You are so beautiful." I could see this bubble. It hit the chin guard and moved up toward my nose. "So beautiful. So beautiful. So beautiful." And it popped. The hole evidently developed in the bottom of the bubble. This is significant because it means that the backlash of the stretched gum rocketed upward. Upward... toward my nose... toward my eyes... toward my closed, lightly tented, face mask. "Jesus, You're beautiful to me. Beautiful. Beautiful. Jesus You're beautiful to me." It crossed my line of vision and attached itself to the cloth material on the inside of the helmet above my eyes... above the face shield. At this point I could only see... bubble gum. Stretched thin and sealing off my vision of the road ahead of me. "Sweeter than springtime. Purer than sunshine. Ever my song will be, Jesus You're beautiful to me."

The following moments are a blur in my memory banks. I ripped open the face shield. The gum held fast to its material. (Pause for a teachable moment. Do you remove your right hand to tear away the gum, leaving yourself with no throttle and no brakes? Do you remove your left hand to tear away the gum leaving your clutch unattended? Obviously that depends on the circumstances. The circumstances depends on what is ahead of you. I had no idea what was ahead of me. I was blind, remember?) It was a gamble but at 50mph in the dark in the country on narrow winding roads you have to do SOMETHING fast. My left hand deserted the clutch and tore at the gum. The onrushing wind had already pushed it into my glasses. The easiest and quickest thing to do was to remove the glasses... and the gum went with it. Yes... thank you Jesus. I held onto the gum, the glasses, and the re-discovered clutch as I shut everything down and coasted to a stop on the dark side of the road. It took a few minutes but I managed to remove the gunk and get on my way again.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the bubble gum industry for degrading its product over the last few years. As a kid the quality of the gum was much higher and a motorcyclist would have been doomed. His tombstone would have called him "Mr. Tree."

So. It would seem that mom missed one. A really big one. Boys and girls, listen to old uncle Ron. Don't chew bubble gum while riding a motorcycle. If you do perhaps God will be gracious to you and spare your wretched life. Or... maybe he will say, "I warned you through old uncle Ron." And it will be tree time for you. In the meantime I am switching to Life Savers.