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GOING THE DISTANCE
"THE SMELL OF GASOLINE"
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN:
I've used this gas station on Houston Street & Avenue C for 46 years.
I love the smell of gasoline
I can't articulate exactly why. I can tell ya this: it makes me feel grounded. Why that is, I definitely can't tell ya. That's because I don't have a master's degree in psychology. But lemme take an amateur stab at this. I believe that I feel grounded when I smell gasoline, because it is an olfactory reminder, that I'm a biker. See? Simple, without even having flunked a test in Psych 101. See if you can follow this. Bikers ride bikes and bikes eat gasoline.
But it goes beyond feeling grounded. Hot damn! I'm feeling happy as a clam! Believe it or not, I can tell you exactly what "happy as a clam" means. It's a shortened version of the phrase, "as happy as a clam at high water," high water meaning high tide. It is a phrase that originated in the northeastern USA in the late 1800s, meaning that clams at high tide are the safest from predators. Hey! Clams will take what they can, man! In the bivalve mollusk world, high water is like Happy Hour. It's clams' version of wearing kevlar armor
As for feeling like a biker, I haven't had that pleasure for two months. That's because bikers ride bikes, and I haven't ridden my bike for 8 weeks. This week is eight weeks post-op hernia surgery for me. My surgeon finally ok'd riding the bike and lifting heavy weights. The postoperative period has been a sedate time, a time for reflection and thumb-twiddling. But that all changed this week. This week, I started pumping iron again, and this morning, I got to once again, ride my beloved 1971 Harley-Davidson stroker shovelhead, "Mabel."
Unable to contain myself, I headed out to Mabel's parking lot here in the Lower Beast Side of NYC, at 5:30 AM. It was still dark when I left my house. With eager sweaty hands, I uncovered Mabel, and started 'er up. As she warmed up at a fast idle, I lubed her chain. Checking her gas level with the time-honored, high-tech method of peeking into the deepest, darkest recesses of her gas tank, I saw that she was nearing empty. The Mabes and I blasted outta her lot, her straight pipes waking all of my grateful neighbors. There's nothing in the world as goose-bump raising and heart-warming, as the sound of a straight-piped Harley, gassin' down the road in pure, unadulterated anger.
A word of explanation. The Mobil gas station on Houston Street and Avenue C that I've used for 46 years, just closed last week. This venerable old station was a victim of the Gentrification Disease that has been affecting even the most dilapidated sections of Alphabet City where my Mobil station stood proud. The land was bought by a developer, who will be building a high-rent condo for more worthless yuppies.
I began using this station ever since 1968, when I began riding to Third Street between Avenues B & C, to court my ex-wife. I was riding my first Harley, "Sally The Bitch" then. Man, that's a lotta years, a span of time when I learned to call this "my" gas station. When I started using this Mobil station, the world was young for me, and so was I.
On my Sportster "Sally The Bitch" when I began using my gas station.
I don't know about you, but I become attached to places, especially places of great personal significance, like gas stations. Hey man, gas stations are where I feed my Harley and Vette. This brings me around full-circle to about how I love the smell of gasoline. With my old gas station outta commission, Mabel and I hit the streets seeking a nice, new gas station to become attached to, We found a spacious and clean Hess station, on 10th Avenue and 44th Street. What I like about this station is, it's a mega-station with a million pumps, so there's no jockeying with other vehicles for an unoccupied pump.
MY NEW GAS STATION: Spacious and a lotta pumps!
When I ride Mabel, I keep a rag in my t-shirt's pocket, for wiping excess gas off of her gas tank. After we filled up at our new Hess station, I dutifully wiped Mabel's gleaming black tank, thus soaking up the rag with the precious smell of refined prehistoric remains (gasoline). Once that smell hit my nostrils, I knew I was home again. Home back in the saddle of my righteous Harley, and home finally, from my recuperation from my surgery. In short I was as the saying goes, happy as a clam (at high water). Now sitting in front of my laptop, I'm basking in the smell of gasoline on my t-shirt that the rag left behind. What could be better? Later, man!