“Scooter Riders of America,” by Dewan Gibson

Sep 22nd, 2010 | By | Category: Nonfiction, Prose

I am a black American man who rides a scooter. Neighbors shout “Euro-Negro!” as I cruise through the hood on this un-American vehicle wearing slim-fit slacks and a cardigan made of cloned lamb’s wool available only from a top-secret facility in South Korea, and Urban Outfitters. Passing motorists laugh as I lean forward on the fragile machine and struggle to maintain a steady speed while riding up a steep hill. Worst of all, so-called friends mock my boasts of spending four dollars a week on gas with a simple but biting comeback, “You can’t put a price on your manhood.” But before you judge, let me tell you why I ride a scooter. 

First things first: Women. Women love the scoot. Though they giggle as I ride past, it is a giggle of “Damn, who’s that guy weaving through traffic and playing by his own rules. Look at how his bony hand twists the throttle. It’s like he’s saying… fuck a Hummer.” 

For example, I once pulled over on a side street to use my cell phone when I heard the erotic chuckle of young women sitting in an open garage. I looked over and stared at them through my fake designer shades. One of the young women said “What is that?” So I rode in the garage to give a closer look. As I was explaining a giant SUV came up the driveway and began beeping its horn. I turned around and noticed a middle-age female driver waving me aside. I asked the young women “How old are y’all?” Shouts of “I’m 16! I’m 17!” echoed in the garage. I scooted away, completely unscathed of potential statutory rape charges.

Or how about this other time: I was about to ride to the grocery store and stuff two days of groceries into my tiny scooter trunk when I received a call from a friend. She said “I’m off early. Is it cool if I stop by and say hi?” I answered, “Yeah. I’m about to grab some food and cook. Come by.” 

She came over, hopped on the back of my scooter and received the most exciting ride of her life. Although the only physical contact came courtesy of our helmets banging, it was a joyful experience nonetheless. Well maybe a bit more joyful for me since I didn’t hear back from her again. 

Next up: What’s it like to ride a scooter everyday? It’s cold, man. Riding in any temperature less than 70 degrees is guaranteed to chill your nipples. But there are ways around that. You can simply ride close behind a large bus and bask in its warm but mildly noxious fumes. You can also keep a flask of whiskey in the scooter’s ever-so-convenient pouch located near the handlebars. Taking a swig at a stoplight warms your whole respiratory system and helps you focus while driving. 

Lastly, how does one maintain his masculinity while riding such a tiny and seemingly effeminate vehicle? I find this really interesting. In much of the world, scooters are the primary mode of personal transportation. But in hypermasculine America, with its numerous phallic symbols and action stars that never retire, scooters are frowned upon—especially by young, overly aggressive males. 

A few weeks ago I was on the side of the street attempting to start my scooter when a shabby car full of three young men drove by and threw a rock that hit me in my collarbone.

A white-hot anger filled my chest cavity and I went into fight or flight mode, which means I broke out in a forehead sweat and my balls ascended. In fact, I hadn’t felt that angry since my ex-girlfriend punched me in the nose, at which point I responded by giving her a throat massage. 

Anyway, I thought “My dear scooter, if there’s a time when I really need you to start, that time is now.” And you know what? She started right up. 

I sped down the street going at least 80 miles per hour, or maybe 45. I looked to my right and saw that the car used for the drive-by was parked outside the 7/11 and the three offenders were still inside the piece of shit ride. I went up to the passenger window and said things I had learned from watching John Singleton movies, like, “Get your bitch ass out the car.” 

I then added “You like throwing shit! Throw something at me now!” The young man, not older than 20, sat in frozen fear. He said only “We didn’t throw anything, wasn’t us.” I responded, “Man, I saw you throw it!” 

The driver stepped out the car. I thought “Damn he’s big… uh-oh.” I removed my helmet and quickly wrapped the strap around my hand. He looked and thought better of facing off with a lunatic skinny man holding a lethal weapon and walked into the store. 

The situation defused; I had successfully defended Scooter Riders of America. I drove off, glancing from right to left at the sidewalks, hoping to find a female pedestrian lucky enough to ride on my powerful, manly moped. I didn’t see a worthy woman. 

I also didn’t see the massive pothole in my path. My front tire rammed into the concrete ditch, nearly cracking the scooter’s frame in half. I fell to the ground and the scooter lay next to me. Traffic screeched to a halt but no one offered to help. They simply stared as I limped over to the sidewalk, full of embarrassment and pain and struggling to pull the wrecked motorbike from the street. I finally reached the sidewalk and lowered the bike to the ground. There it rested, battered and mangled with about four dollars worth of gas seeping out of the tank. 


Dewan Gibson is the author of The Imperfect Enjoyment. He lives in San Diego and enjoys singing “Fair Eastside High” in the bathroom of his local inner-city high school. Dewan has written for the International Journal of Intercultural Relations, FreshXpress and Naked With Socks On. He blogs daily at www.imperfectenjoyment.com/blog and can be found at twitter.com/dewangibson.

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