I turned 50 in June. To celebrate, to console myself, I bought a motorcycle, a low-slung cruiser that looks enough like a Harley that, at 100 yards, it's hard to tell the difference. I bought it before I was licensed to ride it, so straightaway I got a learners permit, recruited a supervisor, and began preparing for the Motorcycle Skills Test.

The MST involves a series of tight maneuvers through an obstacle course. You have to turn on a dime. You have to weave between cones barely wider than your bike is long. You have to come to sudden stops without skidding, and creepy crawl a lengthy straight stretch without veering. My supervisor was supposed to get me ready for all that.

Only, I liked riding the open road so much, we paid little mind to fiddlesome details. Occasionally, we'd pull into an empty parking lot, I'd do a few U-turns and figure 8s, declare myself a master, and off we'd go again, blazing down the highway.

Born to be wild, I guess.

The day of the MST came. I was dangerously unprepared. ...

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