Bermuda. Summer. 1968. Fifteen Years Old.
On this far-flung family vacation, my parents & I were
informed by hotel staff that the best way to get around
was on motorbikes, something that I had never driven.
However, my Mom and Dad relinquished their normally
overprotective ways, soon departed on their new modes
of transportation and left me on my own. I proceeded to
drive my motorbike directly into the nearest wall. I was
knocked down & dazed but unhurt. Now fully aware that
the throttle could throttle me. I was far more cautious on
my next attempt. Before I knew it, I was out & about on a
busy Bermuda thoroughfare. At a stop sign, the road forked
& I pondered which way to go. I began to see myself not as
myself but as Steve McQueen fleeing on a motorcycle after
cleverly slipping away from his World War II POW camp
captors in a beloved 1963 Hollywood blockbuster. Right at
this climactic moment, composer Elmer Bernstein’s rousing
score utilized pulsing strings and staccato horns as McQueen
on his modified TT Special 650 Triumph looked left, turned
right and hunched down for one last heroic flight for freedom.
I was so caught up in this daydream that if I had seen wooden
fences wrapped in barbed wire, I would have zoomed off and
tried to jump over them. But no such fences were in sight, so I
headed east and raced off at daring speeds that often neared 23
miles an hour. At no moment in my life (before or since) have
I ever felt such absolute liberation. I accelerated, leaned into the
next curve and continued on my great, but brief, escape.