When I was a little girl, I first watched Grease 2 on TV on some Saturday afternoon. Michelle Pfeiffer and the pink ladies blew me away. In fact, I like Grease 2 even more than Grease 1 (no hate mail please). Probably because I saw the sequel before the original, and somehow the cheese factor of Grease 1 was way too much to get over (not that Grease 2 was not without cheesiness). I liked Grease 2 so much, I bought the soundtrack and sang along to every song on my cassette player at home until I knew all of them by heart. I taped it once on TV and watched it over and over again until I could do the C-O-O-L-R-I-D-E-R shimmy like a pro. If you’ve never seen Grease 2, Michelle Pfeiffer plays the lead Pink Lady and is in search for a Cool Rider, thereby rejecting the advances of the smart and handsome British exchange student. She sings to him:
If you really want to know
What I want in a guy…
Well, I’m lookin’ for a dream on a mean machine
With hell in his eyes.
I want a devil in skin tight leather,
And he’s gonna be wild as the wind.
And one fine night, I’ll be holdin’ on tight…
To a coooool rider, a coooool rider.
If he’s cool enough,
He can burn me through and through.
If it takes forever,
Then I’ll wait forever.
No ordinary boy,
No ordinary boy is gonna do.
I want a rider that’s cool.
and then it ends with my favorite part… the shimmy! She shimmies as she repeats these last two lines:
I want a C-O-O-L R-I-D-E-R.
I need a C-O-O-L R-I-D-E-R.
My man is my Cool Rider! He’s no ordinary boy; he’s a rider that’s cool! Okay, okay, okay… so he’s not clad in skin tight leather (thank God!), but he does ride. He looks good riding anything. As long as he is in the open air going fast, he is in his element, and looking very cool indeed!
In Lebanon he rode a Honda 250XR — a dirtbike. It was the very in-thing at that time in Lebanon to ride a dirt bike, and because of this his affinity for that style is still strong. I often wondered at this because dirt bikes are ugly, especially when compared to a Harley, Dragstar, or even a Ninja. But a few months ago I finally put two and two together after seeing some images of war-torn Lebanon in the 80’s. The streets were strewn with rubble of varying sizes, not unlike off-roading. No wonder dirt bikes were so popular! They were the best at navigating unpaved or debris ridden conditions!
But he didn’t limit his riding to motorcycles. He was notorious in the countryside for stealing neighborhood donkeys for midnight joyrides with his friends. He also loved to ride horses — especially Arabian horses. Fast, agile, loyal, and affectionate, the horses were not unlike himself, and he fell in love. He even taught himself how ride a bicycle in the streets of Beirut with bombs flying overhead. Unfortunately his older cousin hustled him into a very unfair trade for a small toy.
It’s no wonder that within weeks of being back in Lebanon he surrounded himself with his “rides.” A donkey, a horse, and a scooter. The horse was his favorite. And when he came to Japan, the default ride among most all Japanese is the standard bicycle. My students would marvel at the “gaijin” (foreigner) who rode like lightening on the small country roads of our town. I often would hear from them about how impossibly fast Fred would be riding on the cheapest “mama chari” (traditional old woman style bike) ever.
After three years of immigration limbo, Fred finally got fed up and decided to make a stake in life in Japan and bought himself a Kawasaki GPZ 400cc racing bike. And I finally got to see my “cool rider” in action! And here is the view I revel in when I’m riding behind him on his motorcycle (P.W. readers: this is my man’s forearm; true he’s no MM 6foot Rancher, but WOW nonetheless!)