Thursday, January 27, 2011

THE SCOOTERATI

Trying to fit in with the scooter club reminded me of why I dropped out of Girl Scouts: girls in clubs can be so mean.

It started when I finally decided to go to a meet up of my local scooter club in the meatpacking district. I had read a lot about them online – the club heads urged new scooterists to come by, “don’t be shy”. “Everyone’s welcome.”

It’s not easy walking into a place alone, especially when you're ascending on a club where everyone is already old friends. I rode up on my scooter and parked alongside all of the other member’s Vespa’s and “the like”. A bunch of the members were standing around outside the bar with their pints of beer. No one greeted me but what was I expecting, a marching band? I figured I’d give them a chance to warm up to me, so I made my way into the bar and got myself a beer. I looked around inside and much to my delight I noticed a woman who had been selling her scooter on Craigslist, I had met her a couple of weeks before when I’d gone to check it out. She was standing next to another girl rider. It was great to see a familiar face in the crowd, I walked over to the two women to say “hi” but was taken aback by their mean girl glances. I was back in the 4th grade, only the mean girls were close to forty, dressed as Mods, and instead of drinking school milk slighly through straws, they were sucking Screwdrivers through tiny cocktail stirrers and red stained lips. I mustered a feeble “hi”, they briefly glanced my way but abruptly turned their backs - apparently attending to some private club agenda - pressing their Betty Page heads together to make sure I couldn't hear.

I’d been meaning to go to this weekly meet up for months, had kicked my butt to take a shower, to fight rush hour traffic over the Brooklyn Bridge. I took another swig of my draft beer and went outside where the other members were gathered. Soon enough, the president of the club came over. “Hey, you’re new here,” he said warmly. He was a big, nice looking guy, he was into scooters, but also rode a motorcycle. He called a couple of guys over and introduced me, they were equally friendly. I was glad I’d come. Finally, the president called over one of the few females in attendance there at the weekly meet-up. “Honey, hey, this is Claudia – this is her first time here.” She muttered a “hey” without looking at me as she trailed over to join the amoeba of scooter club regulars.

Soon, the mean girl I knew from Craigslist appeared outside, she’d walked up to her new scooter; a red modern Vespa that she’d fitted with a black and white zebra print seat. Her red and black outfit color coded precisely to her pride-n-joy Vespa. “Hey,” I said, “I met you a couple of weeks ago, you and your husband, I came over to look at your LXV.” “Oh, yeah. How ya doin,” she said, not looking up from adjusting the zebra shower cap that donned her scooter’s seat, “can we get out of here, please,” she admonished her husband who looked equally unimpressed when I reintroduced myself as the woman he’d spent 40 minutes talking bikes with but a couple of weeks before. Within ten minutes or so, the scooter club members buzzed off in groups of two or three, hootin’ and hollerin’ in wild ingin code, leaving me there alone to find my way out of the tangled streets of the West Village.

By the time I found my way back to the bridge, I realized I would probably never take the time to make it back to their bar. The guys were cool, but the mean girl’s cold facades had eclipsed their efforts – hell bent on keeping their female membership down near the single digits.

I’ve since spent some time on their forum. I jumped in on a couple of topics, even posted a couple of question of my own, all of which went unanswered. Seemed all the comment threads were dominated by about 10 key members, peppered with back and forth ribbing and private in jokes. These senior club members were all crowned with the badge, “Scooter Royalty” by their names. At the top of the club’s forum page was an invitation in bold type, “Join us on Wednesday nights, we’ll make you feel welcome,” yet I’d felt anything but. Whether it’s lunch tables, Country Clubs, or Scooterati – the dynamic isn’t so much about who’s in the club, it more about who’s not.

6 comments:

  1. Well I certainly understand that feeling of being an outsider - and I guess it's too much to hope that these things change as we grow older. I'm tempted to say you should go back and force them to discover how fabulous you are, but they don't deserve you.

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  2. Awww... that's sweet!
    Maybe next Summer I'll ride up on my big HOG and play dominoes with their Vespas. :)

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  3. Fuck those elitist bitches. This is precisely why I, and so many other bikers, absolutely despise, no, loath, all those cookie cutter hipsters, with their pristine pre-weathered leather coats, polished Mod helmets and oh-so-cute prada bags slung over their shoulders in a carefully choreographed display of laconic nonchalance, whining their way through the West Village, feet prissily held together on the floorboard, spine erect like they're afraid the buttplug in their ass is going to fall out and soil their suede zebra seatcover. This is precisely the dynamic that drew me to the 3-patch MC world. Yes, true bikers are a rough around the edges, grungy, gut level reality bunch, but they are also far more accepting and egalitarian than these bloated fops you speak of. Get rid of the damn scooter, study up on your motocycle buy a 'real' bike in the summer, and join a riding club; doesnt even need to be an MC. I have no doubt you find the welcome you seek there--and you'll never look back.

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  4. What's silly to me is all the stereotypes and club mentality around all the two wheel vehicles. The Vespa Hipsters, The Bad Ass Bikers, The Gangsta Sport Bike Stunters - what matters at the end of the day is the simple joy of riding on two wheels. :) That said, I've gotten the thumbs up or low five from way more bikers than Vespa's and Sport bike douches - no matter what I've been riding. Cool!

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  5. Someone once said 'if you took away all of the old differences in people--sex, color, national origin, whatever--by nightfall everyone would have created all new prejudices.' Which reminds me of the all-white race riot I saw in Norway once; but that's a different story! Point is, that is how people are. The problem is exacerbated in New York City because, hate to say it, there is actually precious little riding. When I was riding in Asia and Europe, where there was tons of country riding, folks on two wheels were far, far more accepting of each other. Here, it's primarily a social thing. After all, you may ride for what, 20 minutes? 40 minutes? Maybe an hour, half of which is put-putting one's way through stalled traffic. You know I secretly like Vespas, although I haven't ridden one since I was a teenager. I just think your personality and outlook is far more in line with the biker crowd than the effete snobs on the scooters. "One of us, one of us..."

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  6. Yes, me in my Langlitz Leathers and lace up boots, skull and crossbones necklace - a-ridin' along on my Vespa. Snooterati make me hurl, but the bikers at Nelson's always welcome me with open arms, Ogre or no Ogre. I'm with you on all the above.

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