This morning was too nice out to stay cooped up in my apartment even if I did have all of these movies that I wanted to catch up on. (By the way, I misidentified X-Men: First Class in yesterday’s post. I know it’s not a big detail but I couldn’t let it go.) So I went for a ride on the motorcycle for a few hours. I decided that today I wouldn’t wear my helmet. I didn’t base that decision on necessarily the best of reasons: I knew that at one point I was going to get off the bike to go into a coffee shop and a few stores at some point. I haven’t shaved in a few weeks and I’m self-conscious about my hairline so I wear a bandana. I didn’t want to be seen taking off my helmet and swapping it for that bandana so I just threw on the latter when I left the apartment and rode that way. (I’ve also found that wearing the helmet now makes my beard quite itchy.)
As I was heading to my bike I was thinking about the way that people talk about riders who don’t wear helmets. I recalled specifically a co-worker recently telling me that she doesn’t like seeing that, and how it was a good thing that I usually wear one. Nothing made me want to not wear it more. The fact that people actually want me to wear one makes me want to rebel against them.
Is it rebellious? After all, I’m otherwise a very safe rider, probably annoying people around me by how carefully I operate the bike. Not wearing a helmet is yet another way in which I have a problem with social norms and people expecting me to conform to them.
But in a general sense I usually have a good reason for doing things that people don’t like in each particular instance. Riding without a helmet is more dangerous but it makes the experience more enjoyable. I remember once having a conversation with another co-worker years ago at a job which allowed me to play music while working, and I always picked death metal. He was insisting that I only played aggressive music because I enjoyed how other people didn’t like it. I tried telling him that no, I played it because I enjoyed the music itself. I was right, but should somebody not want me to play it still makes me want to choose that out of my collection than something else sometimes.
I’m not really that aggressive with engaging in behavior that other people try to make me not want to do. If I’m in a state that requires helmets, I’ll wear one. If I’m at a job that doesn’t allow death metal, I won’t play it. Then I’ll move on. I never had a rebellious streak as a teenager causing me to go around breaking any laws. I didn’t have my first drop of alcohol until I was in my mid-twenties. So as far as rebels go, I’m a wuss.
I’m going to end this with what I always tell people when they ask me if I ride with a helmet: “Only when I’m sober.” I’m always joking but the look of concern on their face is disconcerting. Are they taking me seriously?