We went to Myrtle Beach, SC to attend my cousin’s wedding which was scheduled during the same week as Bike Week. Our hotel was located right on Ocean Blvd so we had front row seats to the wild and crazy bike festival. On the first two nights, we sat out on our balcony watching the parade of men and women walk up and down the street while motorcycles, fancy cars, and even a few rented mopeds drove up and down the street in bumper to bumper traffic. We watched women deflect the advances and catcalls of young men. We listened to loud music and the revving of engines. We laughed at the endless display of skin that comes with beach territory, young people, and too much alcohol. We made jokes about the guy in the balcony below us that kept yelling, “Hey, Baby!” to the women walking below and laughed when they turned around to scowl up at him (he had the kind of booming voice that could carry for miles without any kind of microphone or voice enhancement technology). In short, the bike festival seemed more about young men and women trying to get each other’s attention than about motorcycles and we found that amusing and pretty fun to watch (sort of what we imagined it would have been like to be on Mtv Spring Break back when we were young’ens). We were old and terribly uncool, but we were there. We stuck out and felt a little silly at times, but we were having a good time. We chatted with the party-goers in the elevator and cracked jokes with the guys trying to carry cases of beer down the hallway. Everyone thought Tiny-Small was adorable (and probably that we were crazy or complete idiots for bringing her there).
After a while we started to wonder why it was called “bike week” because some of the riders didn’t seem to know how to start their motorcycles let alone ride them and we started to worry for their safety and for the safety of others on the road. Plus, there were way more cars than motorcycles driving back and forth in front of us. We also started to wonder about the over weight 60 year old woman we watched walk by in what looked like a strategically placed leather strap and about the woman we watched walk by painfully slowly in the middle of the day with no shoes on (the sidewalk had to be burning hot). We started to wonder about the tolerance of sexual harassment, the acceptance of dangerous driving, and the obscene lack of clothing that seemed to be disintegrating the whole biker themed event. We wanted to caution young women not to climb onto the back of motorcycles with men they didn’t know. We wanted to caution motorcycle drivers not to be so careless with their bodies and to wear helmets, slow down, and look before they swerved in front of oncoming traffic. There wasn’t much we could do but sit and watch or attempt to navigate between crowds of people and vehicles when we went out. It all started to seem a little dangerous like what I imagine a frat party full of drunk college students would be like. Or, maybe what it is like when initiation activities start to go a little too far and everyone is a little too drunk to notice or to care and the next thing you know someone is drowning, getting hit by a car, or raped in a dark corner somewhere.
|The beaches were surprisingly empty.|
On the third night (Saturday) we grew weary of the traffic, the crowds of people, and the loud, never ending music. We hadn’t slept much the past two nights even with a sound machine and ear plugs. That third night was the worst. We had just spent 90 minutes driving less than a mile and had endured packs of motorcycles weaving through traffic all around us. We drove defensively while motorcycles cut in front of us without any notice, and sped past us in the breakdown lane in large groups and sometimes surrounded us so one wrong move could end in countless fatalities. We had already seen someone set a motorcycle on fire and we had watched as several emergency vehicles attempted to get down the road to help someone in distress.
That morning we had watched a parade for Memorial Day and almost witnessed a couple of kids get run over as they dove for candy being thrown in their general direction. We were so grateful when the lady throwing candy from the parade vehicle sucked her breath in with anticipated fear and was loud enough to make those two boys pause allowing the car to drive past them, missing them only by a few inches. Apparently, some of the festival attendees ignored the road closures and decided to drive right through the parade to get to their destination. I still get shivers when I think about what could have happened.
|Tiny-Small hated the beach (of course). She preferred motorcycles and naked people (much more exciting to look at).|
We finally made it back to our hotel on Saturday night, after the wedding, and risked our lives just by crossing the street. It’s hard to walk in front of a driver who starts moving forward without looking first and is busy looking at the girls walking by on the sidewalk instead of the road in front of them. Especially when you are carrying your two year old daughter in your arms and can’t help but think if someone hits you with their car (or motorcycle) and injures her that you are probably going to become homicidal. That night the party went up a few decibels. At 3am someone spent over an hour revving his or her motorcycle and making it screech a high pitched, glass breaking squeal (I think he or she was trying to start it, but just couldn’t figure out how to. Jim thinks who ever was doing it was just being an asshole. I guess we’ll never know for sure). I thought I was going to completely lose my mind. Cigarette smoke was pouring in under our door even though we were in a no smoking building. If we opened the sliding glass doors marijuana floated in along with the noise. Then, the downstairs balcony charmer yelled half the night and lost most of his charm and likely part of his voice. We heard our neighbors come in at about 6am because they stumbled down the hall screaming, “Ladies! Ladies, where are you, Ladies?!” Then they tried to open our door. It was a long, long sleepless night and we began to feel too old and too cranky to be part of any of the festivities for much longer. We wanted to go home. We wanted to go home early. This level of partying can only be survived by the young, the fearless, and the childless. We worried that we wouldn’t be able to make it through one more night.
|Home Sweet Home (AKA: the sound of silence)|
On Sunday, we ventured outside to attempt to do some tourist type stuff. It was 11am and the street was less crowded, but there will still some groups walking up and down the street looking drunk or hung over. As we were walking to the boardwalk we got behind a pair of young women walking in the same direction we were headed. Coming towards us were a group of obviously completely wasted young men. One of the guys reached out to grope one of the girls walking in front of us, but she deflected him and somehow his hands ended up running across Jim’s T-shirted and very flat chest. The drunk groper didn’t seem to notice that he was groping a middle aged man (instead of a 20-something young woman) and even turned to stare after Jim as he passed by. Jim was pretty outraged that he had been sexually molested by a drunk, young man in broad daylight (in the middle of a Sunday afternoon), but I couldn’t stop laughing because it was all so ridiculous AND because it was almost over. We were going home on Monday and I was truly looking forward to returning home to boring old New Mexico where women wear clothing, men know how to ride their motorcycles and we keep the noise levels to a minimum. It was fun while it lasted, but from now on I think I will leave Bike Week to the young (those who don’t need sleep, ever) and daring. Anyway, I don’t want to end up being a 60 year old woman in a thong (with love handles) strolling down the street at 3am. I’m way too old and tired for that already! God bless the woman that was brave enough to “flaunt what she’s got” all over the place. I just don’t want it to be me. I have enough embarrassing moments as it is.