Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Garage Widow, a story from the BMWMOA

For your reading pleasure, a rather amusing yet pretty true to life article from the BMWMOA: LINK

Garage Widow
My Life as the Other Woman...
By Betsy Bottino Arenella (wife of Andrew Arenella #111274) | March 04 2009

(Originally published in the April 2006 BMW Owners News)

As a suburbanite of a big sports town (Boston), I used to pity the "football widows." You know, those poor souls whose husbands metaphorically have "left the building" from September to May.

"I'm so glad my husband doesn't spend half the year glued to the TV set," I used to gloat to my less fortunate married girlfriends. No, televised sports held no charm for my Andrew. Now, there was a real catch, my friends murmured enviously.

My smugness evaporated, however, when I realized that I was a constituent of an even direr demographic. For my husband had fallen under the thrall of the most sinister of mistresses, one whose seductive clutches never loosen: his 2002 BMW R1100S.

Unlike my compatriots' spouses, my husband suffers from an obsession that requires him literally to leave the building. Well, sort of.

You see, it's not so much the riding of the motorcycle that tears my beloved so cruelly from my arms. We live in New England, after all, where climatic exigencies dictate a motorcycling season of oh, about two weeks.

No, it's the care of the motorcycle that so tenaciously occupies my husband's heart and mind. And, as you may know, dear readers, this care knows no season. Year-round, from the sultriest days of summer to the bitterest, sub-zero nights of winter, Andrew can be found in our garage, assiduously attending to his pride and joy.

In all fairness, I must interrupt this rant to clarify: Andrew is a great husband and an excellent father. But his motorcycle fixation is, shall we say, somewhat excessive.

It's not that he spends crazy amounts of money on brand-new machines. He buys them used, and then lovingly restores them to their original glory (or better).

Andrew bought his first motorcycle (a Yamaha RD400) as a teenager, long before I entered his life in 1989, and enjoyed what I thought was a last fling with a Kawasaki Concours in the early-to-mid-1990s. Then, in what I foolishly interpreted as symbolic foreshadowing, he sold the prized Kawasaki in 1995 to buy me a beautiful engagement ring.

I attributed this sacrifice to the biblical ritual of becoming a man and putting away "childish things." Clearly, my commitment-ready honey had moved beyond his frivolous hobby in order to focus on what was truly important: me.

But on October 13, 2004, a day that will live in infamy, my archrival rolled haughtily into our garage, her twin cylinders ("jugs," he calls them!) silently mocking me. Compete with this, they seemed to say, laying down the proverbial gauntlet.

And thus began the hours of slavish devotion, the fixing, the painting, the waxing, the arrival of parts discreetly wrapped in plain brown paper, and the electronic inbox replete with breathless e-mails. "Closeout savings at Dennis Kirk!" "Dennis Kirk's Fall Sale!" "Giant Helmet Blowout at Dennis Kirk!" they proclaimed, the last one evoking a vaguely disturbing mental image.

In summer, Andrew's self-imposed garage exile doesn't seem so bad. At least then, I can simply walk out there and request the pleasure of his company, though at least one child usually is following on my heels, screaming,

"I wanna help Daddy with his motorcycle!"

But during the frigid winter, the inclement weather traps me in my heated sanctuary. Last winter, I resorted to opening the front door and screaming for backup as the kids tried their best to kill each other.

My husband informed me that my banshee-like calls were embarrassing him in front of the neighbors, calling into question his wife's sanity. A few times, during blinding blizzards, I resorted to flicking the porch light on and off maniacally in a desperate bid for his attention.

That year, Santa Claus brought Andrew an Intercom system. As my mate tore off the wrapping paper, I cackled with glee at Santa's ingenuity, ignoring the kids' puzzled looks and Andrew's expression of chagrin. I explained to Little Andrew and Mina that Santa Claus had brought this Intercom system so we could buzz Daddy in the garage anytime we needed him.

My victory was short-lived, however, as the intercom mysteriously began malfunctioning several weeks after its arrival.

"I don't know, Honey," Andrew said, shrugging disingenuously. "I guess something's wrong with it." Strangely enough, my spouse, a veritable McGyver who can rig a nuclear reactor from a handful of toothpicks and some dental floss, somehow was at a loss on how to fix the intercom.

I concede that I can see the appeal of his little retreat. Here in the house, he is subject to spousal nagging, children fighting, and the other slings and arrows of domestic life. But there, in that garage, amongst the Hefty bags of rotting food and soiled diapers, he is - yes -- Master of His Domain.

Between the cigars, the beer and the sensual curves of his forbidden love, the garage has become a den of iniquity. And, best of all, Andrew knows that even I, whose intrusiveness knows no bounds, won't venture in there.

After finishing dinner, he surreptitiously slips on his jacket and starts to slink towards the front door.

"Where are you going?" I ask rhetorically, my eyes narrowing.

Using what he obviously thinks is a Jedi mind trick, he cleverly reverses the question.

"Where are YOU going?" he counters. Pure genius.

I'm not shy about voicing my concern that his motorcycle mania is taking over our lives. Even the kids are in on the act.

"Daddy's going to marry his motorcycle," they giggle.

Just when I thought the situation couldn't possibly get any worse, it did. A few months ago, a 1993 K75S joined the R1100S, creating a harem.

"It's not for me," was Andrew's wide-eyed reply to my miffed reaction. No, he assured me most sincerely, he was going to fix it up and sell it to his best friend (and best man at our wedding), Eric.

Realizing I was losing the battle, I decided to try to embrace my husband's hobby, or at least feign enthusiasm.

"Wow, that looks really nice," I said, venturing out into the driveway one day to admire his handiwork. Andrew grinned proudly. Then I ruined it all with my follow-up question. "Is that the old motorcycle or the new one?"

He sighed deeply, shook his head and retreated back to the garage.

Apparently this fixation on mechanical objects is genetic. During his brother Alexis' annual December visit from L.A., I caught Andrew and his younger sibling drooling over the computer screen like a couple of teenagers downloading their first Cindy Margolis image.

"What are you doing?" I inquired, a warning light going off in my brain.

"Nothing," Andrew giggled, as I looked over his shoulder and rolled my eyes at the used-auto Web site they were perusing. "I was just thinking," he ventured, "if I get rid of that second motorcycle, maybe I could get a convertible."

Whaaaatttt???? Was this supposed to be another Jedi mind trick? He was now using the motorcycle that he was "just fixing up to sell" to his friend as a bartering chip to get yet another toy?

And apparently it's not enough for Andrew just to work on his own motorcycles. No, this New Year's Day, after a week of admittedly over-family-togetherness, he announced that he had to "go help a guy with his motorcycle."

"What guy?" I asked warily.

"A guy," he replied evasively, looking sheepish.

"Don't tell me this is one of those people you met in that motorcycle chat room!" I gaped in disbelief.

"IT'S NOT A CHAT ROOM!" he bellowed, offended. "It's a BMW forum."

"Whatever," I snapped, my suspicious mind latching onto a new and intriguing paranoia. "Either way, it has sexual overtones. What, did this guy place an ad saying, 'Harley guy seeks fellow biker bear to frolic in the snow'?"

"Nooooo...and I don't even like Harleys," Andrew sniffed, clearly missing the main issue. "The guy just said he needed someone to help install a motronic chip."

"HA!!! Install a chip???" I repeated incredulously. "Could you be more naïve? That's obviously some kind of code phrase," I explained patiently, raising one eyebrow. "Besides, how do you know he's not a psycho murderer?"

"I don't think psycho murderers typically go trolling on the BMW forum, Honey," he replied reasonably. "Besides, the guy has a wife and a 20-month-old kid."

"Don't they all," I murmured darkly before relinquishing the fight. This "Paul" character called a few minutes later to confirm the "date," and I had to admit he did sound relatively non-psychotic. And Andrew did return home safe and sound that evening, albeit with an "I-just-installed-a-motronic-chip" glow.

I suppose my conundrum could be a lot worse. I always know where my husband is, after all, and that my competition is merely a conglomeration of wheels, nuts and bolts, rather than a flesh-and-blood rival.

Lying in bed late one night, I think of our nearly 17 years as a couple, the laughter and tears, our children, and the life we have built together, and a wave of love washes over me. I reach over to give Andrew a hug.

Then I remember. He's in the garage.

This story was reprinted here for your reading pleasure, a rather amusing yet pretty true to life article from the BMWMOA: LINK
The BMWMOA Owner's News is a monthly publication for members of the BMW Motorcycle Owners Association (BMWMOA) - Here's their website: LINK


Martha said...

Change the names...and the stories remain the same (sort of).

But, I stand by my original remarks that the "girls" are still less costly than a real mistress, the endorphins released after a good ride makes me inclined to call your girls: prozac on wheels, and well... they often say that if Mama ain't happy, nobody is happy...if Papa can't ride, we all I guess I'm content being a GW (Garage Widow)


Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Domingo):

I remember reading this story when it first came out in the BMW Owners News. The author's whining gave me a headache then and it gave me another one now.

I have two suggestions for the wife who sees her husband's motorcycles as competition. The first is to send the kids to her sister's for a sleep-over. When her husband comes in from work, a note on the kitchen table will direct him to the garage, where his wife will be sitting on one of the machines, topless, giving a martini shaker a workout. Effort like this alway gets an "A."

Plan "B" is to take the safety course, get a license, and claim the K75 as her own. Either scheme has to be better than intercoms and complaining about things. Too bad all problems can't be solved as easily as this.

Fondest regards,
Twisted Roads