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How's a Harley Like a Cruise Ship?

by Brent Betit

I have a confession to make. As a writer, I have always enjoyed synthesis, the combination of seemingly unrelated topics or issues, such as Romantic literary theory and ecology, or travel and solitude, or even Alan Walker and Doug Terhune. Now there's a set of unrelated topics for you.

But that's not the confession - or should I say, it is and it isn't. The confession is that even though I've been attempting to emulate the suave, debonair mannerisms of a world traveler and bon vivant (Alan Walker?) well versed in the ins, outs, ups and downs of the cruise industry, sophisticated enough to tip a champagne glass with the haut monde and the ultra-cool, I also ride a Harley. That's right, I'm a biker, with a huge, snarling Dyna Wide Glide displacing 88 cubic inches, that accelerates from 0 to 100 in about the time it takes to add a period to a sentence. (For you riders who favor foreign bikes, that's 1,450 cc.)

Call it a mid-life crisis, call it a futile attempt to recapture lost youth, call it an overly-expensive hobby. Call it what you want; just make sure you aren't standing in the way when I crank the throttle 'cause I don't stop for nuthin' when I'm on that bike. Or as one of my esteemed colleagues at the college where I labor every day said "By day, mild mannered Executive Vice President; by night, leather-encased biker dude."

So just what does all this have to do with cruising, you might ask? (I know you've been dying to ask.) Remember that bit about synthesizing seemingly unrelated topics? I think a Harley and a cruise ship are amazingly similar, and so this odd penchant I have for danger on two wheels makes more sense that you might think. How's a Harley like a cruise ship? Let me count the ways:

1. They're both expensive, shiny, and unlike anything else on earth. (For another comparison, see my Motorist's Guide to Cruising at http://www.sealetter.com/May-98/motor.html

2. They both require large amounts of money to sustain.

3. They both have a certain etiquette (for cruise ship etiquette, see my column at: http://www.sealetter.com/Aug-98/etiq.html; for biker etiquette, just wave at all the other bikers and don't slow down. Ever.)

4. They both allow an escape from everyday reality: no phones, no TV (unless you want), no doing anything you don't feel like doing. With attitude.


5. They both require a "break-in" period before you really get the hang of them (for you new cruisers, you can get a real head start by reading any and all of the columns and reviews in the Sealetter archives).

6. They both require a wardrobe that is a bit different than your everyday clothing.

7. They can both become passions or obsessions (ask Alan and Doug! - at least about the cruising part).

8. They both allow you to let the wind slap against your face, and (at least on the Harley) to let the bugs slap against your teeth.

9. They are both activities that a huge number of people have yet to discover (thank goodness for that).

10. They both allow you to wear funny hats and get away with it.

I've always like round numbers, so I'm going to stop there, but you get the idea. People are really quite consistent and so what they tend to like to do is almost always related, even if on the surface it does not appear so. And though I have yet to see a H.O.G. (Harley Owner's Group) rally on a cruise ship, I can guarantee you it's going to happen. Even if I have to sponsor one myself. There'll be just a few rules: all tattoos must stay covered; no eating the deck chairs; parts of bars may not be brought back to the ship after shore excursions; no T-shirts on formal night, even if ironed; no leather thongs; keep it down next to my cabin.

I'll catch up with you either on the high seas or on some lonely stretch of highway, and I'll be sure to wave in either case. Just don't expect me to slow down.

Happy cruising.


Brent BetitBrent Betit is a freelance writer who lives in Vermont with his wife and two young children.

Brent is also the Executive Vice President of Landmark College in Putney Vermont, and we are proud to announce that Landmark College has received a U.S. Department of Education Title III (Strengthening Institutions) Grant. Landmark is one of only 32 institutions selected from among approximately 1,800 applicants for this highly competitive grant program and Brent and his staff worked with Senator James M. Jeffords and his staff at the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions who provided substantial support, advice, and guidance during Landmark's two-year quest to gain funding within the grant program. Congratulations, Brent!

Brent has written many SeaLetter columns on such subjects as sea-going language, cruising with kids and cruise etiquette. To find all of Brent's SeaLetter columns and cruise reviews, visit our SeaLetter COLUMNISTS Index.

Brent is always interested in your comments and suggestions and may be reached at: Brent@sealetter.com.

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