Perk Stories

I’ve always loved this stoplight. It’s a special one, signifying the left turn to my favorite neighborhood eatery, with that burger and those fries and that beer list, and it’s young and attractive crowd. A shame that it’s closing this year, I think as I look across at its homey front door from my front row spot at the stoplight. I’m the first one here, in fact, the only one here, but that’s about to change.

I hear a familiar sound approaching over my denim-jacketed left shoulder where my clutch hand hangs lazily, left foot planted firmly on the ground to stabilize me and my custom 1975 Honda CB.

I know that downshift, sounds like Grandpa’s 1968 Porsche 912. I wonder if it’s blue like his, but as I turn to watch it roll up to my stoplight, it’s not. It’s a forest green, original paint, and she’s in great shape.

So is her owner. I allow myself a generous glance through my dark wayfarers, and she’s a 12. Gorgeous skinny blonde with some oversized sunglasses, a white skin-tight tanktop gracing her tan skin tucked-into high waisted light wash denim. Trouble, she’s just my type.
I know she saw me watching her as she rolled up, cuz the corner of her lips curl into a soft mischievous smile, a second before turning her flawless head to face me directly, her blonde hair catching the afternoon sun and her eyes catching me staring. Her gaze meets mine for a moment, before I smile, and look back down and ahead to my gas tank. I can tell she took a generous look also, and I’m feeling good about it, knowing the effect my white tee, denim jacket, blue jeans, and light scruff have had on women in the past. I’m looking ahead, with a smile of my own, and I hear her rev her engine, indicating an engagement, a race when the light turns green. My smile grows and I accept the invitation with a couple of RPMs on the throttle.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Light turns green and we’re off. She’s in a manual 60s era coupe, and I know I can probably beat her off the line, but she’s got good reaction time, almost as if she wants to impress me, and she beats me on the first 50 yds, our naturally aspirated engines sucking huge gulps of rich coastal air. It’s close, but from my view off her back right bumper, I can see her right shoulder moving effortlessly through gear changes, her left hand perched lightly at the top of the steering wheel. No ring, that’s great news, but almost impossible to believe with a look and a car like this.

Around a long left bend in the road, my modified cafe style bike finds the 3rd gear powerband, and I pull hard on the throttle, my throaty exhaust verbalizing my pass. Now just off her front right bumper in my lane, I turn my head casually for a second to take the moment in, and as I speed by, smile as if to invite her further.

I know she sees me, and I catch another smile, a bigger one this time, a glimpse of perfectly white perfect teeth, and I know it’s afoot. I push another few feet past her, merge into her lane to claim my victory, and get an idea. I’m betting that neither of us are done with this game, and at the next light, a green one, I dive into the left turn lane, downshift twice, and swing over on a tight left turn before starting up the hill. I know this area well, and there’s a canyon we can dance our vintage vehicles around in for the remaining golden light.

Halfway up the hill, I hear her downshift behind me, and I smile again, knowing that this time she can’t see it, and that this is the real victory.

We make it to the canyon, and it contours above the coast to no destination in particular, and it’s quiet this time of day. The only sounds are ours, and she pulls up next to me, speedily dancing in and out of the blind corners boldly, two wide in what feels like an unchoreographed courtship between vintage vehicles. Up higher and higher as we climb through the canyon until we come to the inevitable end, a small U-turn and lookout.
I make it there first, and I park my bike, helmet on handlebars, run my fingers through my long blonde hair as she pulls up beside me. I’d rather be running my fingers through her blonde hair, I catch myself thinking. Play it cool, just another ride in the canyon, I pep talk myself. I get off my bike, and she’s not out yet, so I walk up to her passenger window.
“68?” I asked as I leaned my head in.

She’s unsurprised that I’m within a 2 year ballpark, and cooly responds “67. 71?”

I am surprised that she’s that close, and my face yields a combination of attracted surprise. “73, you know your bikes. And you drive like you know your car.”
“You ride like you know this road. You bring a lot of girls back here?”
I grin at the ground, but I’m ok. I look back up at her with a mischievous look, and admit “only the ones that beat me off the line. You race a lot of guys on bikes?”
“So where are we” she artfully dodges, as she clicks the driver-side door open, swings out a long perfect leg, followed by another, stands and squares off to my shoulders casually over the roof.

“Somewhere quiet. Somewhere empty. Somewhere above the fray. Somewhere we can race. Or go slow, if that’s you.”

It’s her turn to smile at the ground, and she flushes more than she’s clearly used to, but she collects herself after a moment and she turns to face the setting sun, her sun bleached hair catching the salt breeze.
Satisfied with her nonverbal response, I turn around to face my bike and move up to lean lightly against her car above the wheel well, and I can tell she’s moving around the rear of the car to my side.
As she steps around the back, I catch her heels. Even more impressive, I think, she was driving like that in heels.

“Wow, in heels, too.” I let out a dramatized low whistle. She takes a couple more steps, and I take my time coming back up, feasting on her petite 5’10” frame. Flawless.
My effortless tee and jeans combo fits me well, and she’s into it, planting one foot outside, the other between my Blundstones. Her slender arms come up, her wrists gently draped on my shoulders, and she brings her fingertips to the back of my neck, making the little hairs stand up.

“Where to next, rider?” she asks, her deep blue eyes locked into mine.
“I’ve got an idea, but you’re with me. It’s not far.”

She takes a breath, breaks the embrace, takes three steps back, eyes still locked, strikes a sassy little hip-pop pose, and sweeps her arm toward my bike, as if to say “after you.”
I pry myself out of the moment, on faith that there will be another, and walk over to my bike, drop the passenger pegs down, climb on and kick once to start.

She doesn’t miss a beat swinging a long leg over the back and wraps her arms around my waist, fingertips clearly satisfied with my ab regimen.

I cautiously swing us around the empty culdesac and rip a bit more throttle on the exit, causing her to grasp a bit tighter with her hands and legs on my hips, and I smile into the sunset.
Just the place in mind. The eatery with the burger and the fries and the beer. And my favorite stoplight. Which just became our stoplight.