Last night, sometime around 2 a.m., I was ripped from a peaceful slumber by a shockingly loud noise from the street outside. Alternating between a shrill, piercing whine and a thunderous roar, the sound echoed down the block, rattling my bedroom windows with oceanic waves of internal-combustion fury. As I lay there, unable to fall back asleep, my head and pulse pounding, I could think only one thing: Wow, check out that motorcycle revving!
What is it that makes a revving motorcycle so welcome? Why is this exhaust-choked noise instantly embraced and enjoyed by all who hear it? And what is it about the deafening roar made by the motorcyclist—he of the unmuffled exhaust pipes—that makes him beloved above all others? These are just a few of the questions I pondered during the hours immediately following that motorcycle's early-morning revving.
Inevitably, the answer to each question was always the same: The mere act of sitting astride a stationary motorcycle and manipulating the throttle for the express purpose of creating vast amounts of ear-splitting noise is the most impressive display of power known to man.
Yelling out of cars, turning your speakers out the window to blast your music onto the street, setting off M-80 firecrackers, firing automatic weapons into the air—these are all well and good. But none of them create a merry atmosphere of insouciance and bonhomie quite like a revving motorcycle.
When a man mounts a motorcycle and, instead of merely riding it like a common mortal, chooses to regale everyone within a five-mile radius with the sound of four or five thousand internal-combustion explosions a minute, he is saying something. He is announcing to the world (or at least half the city): "We are all human beings, unique unto the world, and as a human, I will not be bound by the will of the masses. I am a soaring spirit, incapable of being chained, and, by way of evidence, I will provide this threshold-of-pain sonic explosion."
And it works! Last night, up and down my block, people were jolted awake with undeniable proof of that motorcyclist's humanity. The act was deeply moving to each and every one of us ex-sleepers. I'm sure I'm not the only one who found it difficult to go back to bed for a long time, so affected was I by this stirring, transcendent expression of individuality.
That is what I admire most about such motorcyclists: their courage to assert their uniqueness in the most audible, public way possible.
It is such determination to make our individuality heard that sets us apart from the animals. So hallelujah, I say, and let freedom rev.