By Jody Weisel


My mother never came to terms with the fact that her son had decided to become a motorcycle racer instead of a doctor. You can’t really blame her. She read text books to me when I was still in my crib, helped me with my homework in elementary school, she ponied up for tuition at the university of my choice, attended every graduation including my Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate and was positive that my nine years of college was well spent.


She had high hopes that while playing canasta with her biddy patrol, that she would be able to say to the other mothers, “Have I ever mentioned that my son is a doctor? He just won the Nobel Prize for his theory of Gastrodeterminism and Cultural Development.”


In her mind, her card playing friends would sit there in awe at the mere mention of a theory of societal development that had big words in it. All she knew is that I was a college professor and wrote a groundbreaking book named, “The Cosmopolitan-Local Orientation of Aged Blacks and Whites.” Okay, it wasn’t turned into a Hollywood blockbuster or a must-read page turner, but since it was based on my dissertation it was aimed at the scholarly crowd, but mom didn’t care a whit about my “publish or perish” writings, only that her friends wouldn’t know the difference between a Doctorate in Gerontology and one in Medicine. Doctor, schmoctor…as long as there was “Dr.” in front of the name.



One of the reasons that motocrossers hang out with other motocrossers is that we understand intimately what we do. The hardships, sacrifices, lingo, cultural artifacts and socially acceptable behavior are set in stone inside our subculture. We know who we are, but more significantly we know that the rest of the world will never understand what we do. That’s not a problem for us. As long as we stay ensconced within our tight-knit society of peers, we are like little princes. Outside of our group, we are just a bunch of guys wearing T-shirts with cryptic logos on them.


Our mothers, God bless them, spent most of their adult lives praying that we would turn out right—and by that they mean, give them something respectable to brag about in their golden years.


In her mind I had betrayed all the effort she put into me. Oh, I went through the all years of becoming a Doctor of Letters, because it allowed me to earn money teaching at the university to pay for my motorcycle racing. But, she was despondent that instead of becoming a doctor, lawyer or Indian chief—I became “her son, the motorcycle racer.” I can only imagine how tough it must have been for her when the subject turned to the kids over the mahjong table.


“My son owns a dry cleaning business in Houston. He’s thinking of franchising it,” says my mom’s friend Margie. “What does your son do?”


My mom replied, “Jody has left the university and now works in the transportation industry,” says good old mom, cryptically.


“Oh,” asked Ellen, after proudly announcing eight bam, “Does he work for the airlines? I remember that you once said that he was a pilot.”


“He is a pilot. He flies a couple days a week,” says mom, more than a little afraid that she might have to explain what aerobatics are.


“Does he work for Pan-Am?” asks Margie. “Perhaps we could us get cheap tickets to Jamaica this winter.“


“Sorry, he doesn’t fly any routes that go near Jamaica,” said mom. “Nowadays, he is a more interest in the science of moving dirt.”


“Is he a geologist? Does he work at dinosaur digs?” asked Ruth.


“Not exactly, but he works with a type of earth mover,” replies mom.


“Like a Caterpillar?” asks Margie.


“No,” says mom as she takes a big gulp. “He makes his living as a motorcycle racer. He races motocross.”


“Motor-cross! What’s that?” asked all three friends in unison.


“It’s a type of motorcycle racing where they race on dirt,” says mom.


“You mean like the Hell’s Angels?” asks Ruth.


“No, of course not!” Mom replied. “He’s not in a gang. He’s a motocross racer. It’s a very popular sport.”


“I think I saw that on TV,” says Ellen. “Is that the sport where they fly through the air while dressed like their favorite characters from Star Trek?”


“Yes,” said mom, “Exactly. That’s it.”


“Well,” says Ruth, “it’s a good thing he’s a doctor because those crazy guys are gonna need a doctor to fix all their broken bones.”


“He’s not that kind of doctor,” replied mom.


“What do you mean?” asks Margie. “You told us he was a doctor. Now you’re telling us he’s some kind of speed freak. What kind of doctor is he if he can’t fix broken bones?”


This was the moment of truth for my mother. How willing was she to explain the difference between an M.D. and a Ph.D.? And, after that, could she accurately explain how a grown man makes money by riding a motorcycle on dirt to her 70-year-old friends. She took a deep breath.


“He’s a gynecologist,” she lied.


“Oh,” says Ellen. “When he comes to town you must introduce him to my daughter. We always wanted a doctor in our family.”


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