Tater is My Co-Pilot

Let me tell you about my nephew and ridin’ partner, Tater. Actually his real name is Nate, but Tater seems to him fit better. He’s eleven now going on twenty-five. He’s about 5’4” tall and his feet are as big as mine. In fact, I saw him eyeballin’ my favorite Harley boots so I had to make sure that I never took em’ off around him! He’s a good lookin’ kid even if his ears do stick out a little bit. In fact if the light’s just right, he looks kinda like a 36’ Buick sedan with the front doors open. (The effect will be complete when he gets his braces later this year.)

Tater can eat more than anybody that I know and like a baby bird; he wants to eat about every two hours! He knows the location of EVERY ice cream shop within ridin’ distance of his house and he was quick to point em’ out to me as we rode along!

I’m pretty fond of him and he makes a great ridin’ partner and navigator. He always kept me informed of where we were when we rode with his parents up in Washington.

Tater’s always willing to go along with the old “pull my finger routine” and he laughs at my silly jokes. He got a big kick out of the way I tried to pronounce the names of the little towns around where he lives. Hey, it ain’t my fault! You try to say: Enumclaw, Snoqualmie, Issaquah and Puyallup without hurtin’ yerself! (I still can’t say Puyallup without bittin’ my tongue.) Come to think of it, he laughed at me a lot for some reason….

Back home in Tennessee we have normal sounding names for our towns that any good American can pronounce, names like: Calfkiller, Hanging Limb, Soddy Daisy and Muddy Pond.

His dad’s name is Rick and his mother Anne, is my wife Amie’s twin sister. They bought a brand new Electra glide a few months ago and Tater loves to go riding. He’s ridden with his dad several times but when he rode behind me it was the first time that he got to go along when mom went too. I don’t know who enjoyed it more, me or him.

Tater’s still getting used to being a passenger on a motorcycle and he squirms around back there like a worm on a hot sidewalk. He’s a tall kid and he’s reached that clumsy age where his coordination hasn’t caught up with his shoe size yet and he experiences a little difficulty climbing on a bike with those big feet. I quickly learned that I had to let him mount first or risk getting’ kicked in the kidneys.

Our longest ride together was when he rode behind me on my bagger during our trip from their house to the Canadian border. It was a perfect “Chamber of Commerce” type of day with cloudless blue skies and 70 degree temperatures. We followed the Puget Sound north to the border and rode for hours through the most beautiful farmland that I’ve ever seen. Amie and I agreed that it was one of the best rides that we’ve ever been on.

As I said before, Tater moves around a lot back there so it wasn’t unusual when his helmet occasionally bumped into mine. However, after we’d been riding for a few hours, he bumped the back of my helmet a couple of times and then I felt his helmet slide down between my shoulder blades. I turned my head and yelled, “What the heck’s going on back there? Tater! Are you asleep?” After a couple of seconds he sheepishly answered, “Well….Yeah…” “Hey boy! You can’t go to sleep back there! You might fall off! Even worse, you might wake up and try to drag me off with ya! One of us has to steer this thing! You stay awake back there, hear me?” “OK…..” he answered. After that he wiggled around so much that I knew he was awake! He flapped his arms like wings and did the “flying hand” thing like kids will do. When we stopped for lunch he took a lot of good natured ribbing from our friends on the two bikes behind us. They’d seen him slump over and knew exactly what had happened.

Tater took it all in stride like the good kid that he is. I look forward to the next time that we get to ride together, hopefully it’ll be soon.