Main Page

If I had a column in the Delft op Zondag

Earlier columns: August 21 / August 14 / August 7 / July 31 / July 24 / July 17 / July 10 / July 3

(Not the real)
Delft op Zondag


28 AUGUSTUS, 2016

An American 'Bromance' - Manu and Me

DELFT - Why anyone would want to straddle a roaring, shiny machine and ride fast is outside logic. At 70 miles per hour, almost anything can send you tumbling off the road - if you are lucky - or smear you across it if not. But, you pay your money and take your chances.

My house in Delft has a shed, a sort of garage, across a courtyard from me; it was one of the big attractions when I bought it. When all my things from America arrived, the motorcycle fit inside nicely. I had to prove to the Dutch motor vehicle department that it was valid in Texas, which made it legal in Europe. I had fantasies of touring on my motorcycle - the Alps, the Spanish coast, southern France.


"I was invited to a Silent Retreat outside Utrecht, which appealed to me because I like not having to be conversational and it was an opportunity to take my motorcycle for a run."

Manu seemed to like the retreat too: he was out of the shed and parked quietly under an old tree. During breaks I went outside and sat with him; we didn't talk much because we did not need to. Manu knows me, has seen me stupid and often wrong, and still likes me. What more can a person ask? And I know that if I treat him right, he will take me away from my little worries for a while.

Not unlike me, Manu is passable, with a few dents and parts that should have been cleaned better. Some breaks, others came out to look him over, and he was always polite, not flashy or too proud. I left the Texas inspection sticker on the back right below the Dutch license plate, where he is from and where he is now.

Dutch say 'motor' and mean what in the US is a 'bike'. My partner rides horses almost daily but was plainly not excited about me taking off into the wilds of center most Holland on my own. My reply was I would be with Manu so no worries.

To me, riding a bicycle in Delft is dangerous enough to anyone not born here, and furthermore she rode horses. She soon saw that I was going no matter what so gave in. I said I would look through the guide to driving in Europe manual again.

The day came and off I went. She was right, of course: I did not know the roads, had trouble with signs and no experience in traffic. I did arrive, after missing exits and a few, insignificant detours. My 'motor', Manu, got me there smoothly.

Once, someone asked why I gave my 'motor' a guy's name. I was then listening to Manu Chao music; it does not look or feel feminine; I'm used to buddies whether in rowing or messing about in sail boats. Manu is my on-the-road buddy.

I was almost sad when the silent part of the weekend ended and everybody started talking. It was a little like meeting them all over again, and they were different. I had become used to only their quiet eyes and soft smiles during sessions.

G. Wiley / NLStrabo - © Copyright - All rights reserved -
In memory of Herb Caen