Mopeds are surprisingly popular in the hilly not-quite-mountain town I work in. It's usually a pretty good giveaway that someone lost their license and isn't working particularly hard right now to get it back. Oh, sure, some people just choose mopeds or scooters; I had a friend who used an adorable scooter back in college to get around because she didn't really need the expense of a car just to go to and from work.
When you see a big, burly guy with two six-packs of the worst, cheapest beer ever in a plastic milk-crate basket duct-taped to the back of his moped driving along a country highway at rush hour?
He probably didn't choose to drive that moped because he just likes it so much. That man is probably not allowed to operate large vehicles any longer.
In any case, moped drivers are the bane of my existence. They drive along, happy as you please, making their slow and steady I-think-I-can-I-think-I-can way up hill after hill after hill. When we're very lucky he might be going 40 miles an hour. While driving up the aforementioned hills? We're all crawling along at 20. It's worse than tractors back in Illinois; at least the tractor is huge and you can't miss it.
People on mopeds are routinely hardly visible at all until the last second, especially now that the sun is going down earlier and earlier. I could whine about how much I hate mopeds for several pages worth of writing, but we'll go ahead and stop now, because I think you get the point.
Mopeds: bad. Bad bad bad.
Not my favorite.
Right, so back to the other day.
I came around a mostly-blind curve and nearly ran into the back of the aforementioned six-packs man, putt-puttin' his way up the hill that starts around the corner. I had to slam on my brakes, which thankfully are really good, and I hadn't even hit within five miles of the speed limit yet. I sighed, settled in to wait until the next time there was actually a passing zone (they are very rare on my route home; there are only two good spots on a half-hour drive), and started daydreaming about soup.
Then, the flash of the sun against something caught my eye.
The guy on the moped in front of me swerved a little to left to avoid... nothing, as far as I could tell... and I realized what had gotten my attention; he was wearing a very large handgun on a holster on his hip.
A very... very large handgun.
I am not kidding. This gun was just absurdly, comically oversized. If there is a type of pistol whose label is just "The Compensating For Something" this would be that gun. Frankly, I didn't even know they made guns like that. They may not; I wouldn't have been surprised if it were fake.
Between the handgun made for clumsy giants, his lack of helmet allowing his bald head to catch the sun in just the right way as to shine it directly into my eyes, the duct-taped milk-crate holding said beer, two tiny flags ALSO duct-taped to the back - one American and one that kind of looked like the snake from the "Don't Tread on Me" flag... my brain simply refused, for a moment, to believe what my eyes saw. Surely this couldn't be real. Surely.
After a while, the man turned off to the right and went down a different road. For just a second, I caught a glimpse of another six-pack of beer held between his knees. Then he was behind the trees, around a curve, and gone.
I realized, in that half-second, that I had seen a stereotype of such hyperbole that no one would ever really believe me when I told this story. They would always think I was exaggerating, making it up, making it out to be weirder than it was.
I hadn't even been able to get a photo to commemorate it.
But I know what I saw.
I'll never forget you, crazy moped guy.
We'll always have Wednesday.