Off the rack and on the town.

Johnny Dare’s, 10:40 p.m. Thursday

Exhaust fumes waft through open windows. Speakers blast Ozzy Osbourne. Eleven steel-and-chrome cruisers are parked in front of the biker bar. Inside, the place is a shrine to manhood, and patrons are decked in their best Mad Max gear: sleeveless shirts, leather jackets, denim anything.

Riders come in different breeds, notes the Pitch‘s fashion expert, a straight guy named Bud. There’s the corporate Sunday rider in the corner, decked in a short-sleeved, department-store button-up dotted with miniature vintage motorcycles and small “USA” emblems. There’s the techno-savvy millwright Bud met here last week, who had wired his bike’s sound system with an iPod stocked with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Guns N’ Roses — and Tone Loc.

“I think the new Harley guys are white-collar,” Bud says. “Some of the guys here look very effeminate,” he adds, noting several patrons with crisply spiked hair who wear wrinkle-free shirts and handle their beer bottles delicately.

Bud spots a bald, tattooed guy with a ZZ Top beard buying shots of Jager for two young women in halter tops. The man introduces himself as Little Bill and crushes Bud’s hand in a two-part handshake.

“I have my priorities,” Little Bill says. “I have these two ladies here, but I’ll be back in a minute.” Little Bill takes the women outside to see his bike, where he asks the brunette to sit on the saddle and work his throttle.

“Little Bill’s bike feels good,” she tells Bud when she returns.

The silver bike is a loaner. Little Bill lost his a few weeks ago in a crackup with a drunk biker. He bruised his ribs, lost a tooth, gained some road rash and incurred $4,500 worth of damage to his bike, but he never called the cops. The other rider promised to take care of everything; Little Bill believes they’ll settle the issue mano-a-mano.

Along with the two studs in his left ear, Bill wears a black Harley no-sleeve, black pants and boots and black leather gloves. “This is all I wear day or night,” Little Bill says. The only time he’s not in ride regalia is when he’s working his backhoe for a living. Then it’s T-shirt and jeans.

Bud notes that the gloves-in-the-bar thing seems odd.

“The real truth is, they are kinda stinky if you pull them off,” Little Bill says. “So I try not to pull them off.”

Little Bill’s friend Debo approaches unsteadily, ranting. Debo built this bar, he says. His name is scrawled on a bench near the porta-potty-style bathroom upstairs. Debo is bald, wears canvas shorts and a windbreaker, and sports a thick mustache and soul patch. He rides a Harley Fatboy.

Although Little Bill says it’s hard to tell the regular riders from the weekend warriors, his friend thinks Johnny Dare’s has a low poseur quotient. Debo says, “This place smells like pussy and looks like men.”

Net Prophet
Notes from KC’s blogosphere.

Driving home from Target, I have to go right past the “skilled nursing/rehab facility” where my father is a patient. He is not doing well. Yesterday his doctor told my mother not to expect that he will ever be coming home. The place is lovely, as nice as those kinds of places can be. They even have Hi-Def TV in the lounge which scares some of the residents because it looks so freakin’ real. But lovely or not, it is still just a warehouse for those unlucky enough to have their bodies outlive their brains. I park the car. I am armed with a bag of sugar-free Lifesavers for my daddy. I don`t get out of the car. I listen to the end of Bowie singing “This Is Not America.” I don’t go into the facility. I sit a little longer and the tears start to sting my eyes. Then they flow. Then they flood. I am a mental health professional. I know an anxiety attack when I experience one. So there I was, a full-grown man, sobbing in his little blue car in a parking lot in 90 degree weather with matching humidity. Sobbing and listening to Bowie. All I have to do is dry my tears, haul my lazy ass out of the Miata and go in. But I didn’t. My justification was that my dad didn’t need to see me falling apart and he didn’t know I was out in the parking lot anyway. One thing I didn’t tell myself was that big boys don’t cry. My father raised me to know better.

From “Greetings from Justinland,” the online diary of Justin Travis

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