Anyway, I passed this guy on his hog, and kept going. Then he passed me once the light changed. Then I passed him at the next light. Then eventually we met, with him stopped at the front of a long line waiting for the light to change at 22nd and South. Stopped at that light, I got a pretty good look at him. He was a stereotypically, tough-looking biker-dude. In his late 40's or early 50's, he looked like he'd probably seen and thrown a punch or two. Based on his sun faded jacket, he'd probably also put a fair amount of mileage on that bike. I'm assuming that whole time he was checking out my sweet Ross cruiser and thinking about how tough I was too.
As we sat there, a pair of two other motorcycles rolled northbound on 22nd. As they reached the intersection, they slowed and eyed up the guy next to me. He eyed them in return. Then they made hand gestures at him. He then returned his own hand gesture; a standard Italian, closed-hand, wassamattawityouse gesture, accompanied by a frowny scowl (see below).
After that gesture, the two guys rolled through the intersection and stopped at the northwest corner to talk to this guy. This was it! I was going to see a street fight! A motorcycle gang street fight! This was going to be awesome!
But there was no fight. Instead, one of the two guys yelled over, "Hey, you want to ride with us?" To which the guy next to me replied, "No, I have to ride to 4th St!" And that was when I burst out laughing. I'd looked at these bikers as macho tough guys, when I should have been looking at them like the grown up children we all are. "Hey, do you wanna ride bikes down to the park?" "Nah, my mom said I gotta get home before dark or I'm gonna be grounded." "Aw, come on, stop being such a dweeby." "I don't wanna be grounded! We're supposed to go to a Phillies game this weekend! They're giving away mini baseball bats at the gate!"
Apparently it's not that big of a jump from adolescent wheelie kids to adult biker gangs. They just want to ride bikes and hang out with their friends. I'll have to remember that the next time a motorcycle blows by me revving it's engine. That loud rev isn't the decibel equivalent of a peacock's tail as I had always assumed; it's a sonic plea for friendship and camaraderie. It's a call to the other vroom vrooms out there: "You wanna ride bikes?"