"Great band", I told her as I dried my hands.
I was lying, as they were a horrendous
country rock garage band
trying to masquerade as a blues band
in the very white small city
of Eugene, Oregon.
"Yes, my old man and I know that lead singer,"
she answered, adjusting her hair in the mirror.
"Oh, with the interesting horn tattoos in his scalp?"
I answered, smiling, wondering
if she please knew I was being sarcastic.
My gaze easily caught the at least 15 patches,
each one of a black ankh,
on a white circular background,
attached to her leather vest.
I just had to comment,
"Oh, your vest is so fantastic! I love the ankhs!"
She paused, eyeing me, and then answered softly,
"Yes, it is the symbol
of the Free Souls Motorcycle Club."
She turned back to the mirror,
starting to brush her hair.
"Oh," I began quickly,
knowing full well
what I was about to start,
"Are you all a biker ally group
Her face clouded over
as she stumbled over her words,
uttering a simple, "What the...?"
"You know, because the ankh
is an ancient symbol from Africa,
that the Black Panther Party
revived in the 1960's", I continued.
She took a deep breath, ready to answer,
but I jumped in with,
"Because if your club is riding motorcycles
while fighting racism, I'd love to make a donation!"
"Uh no, we are not connected with that black lives group!
We are 1-percenters!!!" she answered,
tossing her blonde-gray hair over her shoulders.
"Oh really? Do you mean the super-rich people
who are 1% of the population
but own most of the wealth? Really?" I asked.
Confused again, and starting to be
agitated and jerky while brushing her hair,
she answered a bit loudly,
"No, of course we are not rich! Bikers are not rich!
We are outside of the system!"
I paused, then launched in again,
"Wait, what? Don't Harleys cost
like 20-30 thousand dollars each?
And you have to have them registered,
licensed, insured, and all that?
How exactly is that poor
and outside the system?"
She now was whirling around
to face me,
clenching her hairbrush
in front of her,
"Who the hell are you, anyway? We are the Free Souls! Everyone in Oregon
knows who we are,
and not to mess with us!
The ankh means eternal life,
and it is not from Africa, it is from Egypt!"
I could not help
but let out a chortle,
and I followed her,
as she stomped out the door to the hall.
I began again,
"Oh my...uh...I am just a retired teacher,
who currently does a little tutoring.
You...you do know that Africa is a continent, right?
And Egypt is a country inside of Africa?
Does your club need some geography tutoring?
I could offer you all a reduced rate
for geography tutoring!"
By this time the biker woman
ran into her biker man
as he headed into the hallway.
Glaring at me, she asked him,
"Please tell me I can kick
this disrespectful bitch's ass?"
I should have been scared
at that point,
but I still could not stop myself,
looking at them both and commenting,
"Oh, so beating up a retired teacher,
with multiple health issues,
who just offered you
a reduced tutoring rate,
so your club can learn
that Egypt is part of Africa,
and the ankh is a symbol from Africa,
is what you all do?
Your club beats up tutors? Ohhhhhhhh!
Is THAT how you earned all your patches?"
Amy Ballard Rich's work can be found in many anthologies, including Mermaid Mirror and Milvia Street Art and Literary Journal. When not writing she can be found advocating for social justice and hugging trees.