Inspired by a true story, the fictitious names of Mark and Sam have been assigned to protect the innocent.

I know these two crazy old guys who love classic motorcycles and sidecars and have been collecting them forever. Both of them have amassed quite an assortment of complete motorcycles, projects, basket cases, engines, rolling chassis, greasy bits and pieces and memorabilia; anything with two or three wheels is considered. Each man knows what the other has and, of course, there has been a certain amount of lust aimed towards the other man’s assemblage. It also goes without saying that neither of them has good sense.

This is what happened last week.

Mark called Sam: “What are you doing? Want to have lunch?”

Sam: “Sure, I’m at the shop. Why don’t you come up and we’ll go get a burger and have a beer.”

Mark: “Great, I’ll be there in a while.”

In an hour Mark and Sam went out for lunch. Because neither of them is in a hurry and because they are thirsty, several beers and lunch takes two hours, which gives them plenty of time to exchange personal information, gossip, discuss the news of the day and cure the world’s problems.

With that accomplished Mark asks, “So which bike are you working on?”

Sam: “That really nice ’69 Triumph Bonneville.”

Mark: “What are you doing to it? That thing is already damned near perfect. Isn’t that the one the Triumph dealer took photos of and used for his website?”

Sam: “Yep; that’s the one. I’m cleaning it up and replacing the battery. I think I am going to trade it to the dealer for a new Bonneville.”

Mark: “Why are you going to do that?”

Sam: “My knees are getting so bad that every time I kick start the damned thing it takes 10 miles before they stop screaming at me. So, I think I’ll trade it for a new one with a push-button starter.”

Mark: “Sounds like a bad idea. Yours is worth more than a new one and will just keep increasing in value.”

Sam: “You know the bike. There’s nothing wrong with it. Why don’t you buy it from me and I’ll take the money and buy a new one? That way we keep it in the family.”

There had been trades, but because Mark and Sam had never sold anything to each other that was a new concept. Sam was surprised he had suggested it and Mark was so shocked he had no reply.

Back at the shop many more beers were opened.

Mark: “There is no question that the Triumph is a creampuff. You know if I was really interested in buying something from you; I’d like to get my hands on that old Norton International you have, that 500cc overhead cammer. The engine has been done for a year and it still sits on the bench waiting for you to put it back in the frame.”

Sam: “You don’t want that piece. It is the most expensive thing I’ve got and I’ve had it forever.”

Mark: “If you really wanted to keep it you’d have put it back on the road as soon as the engine was finished. You ought to make me a deal for it.”

Sam: “I might trade you something.”

Mark: “What have I got that you want?”

Sam: “You’ve got that really nice old BMW with a sidecar and that 1928 350 Harley Peashooter. Because they’re easy to start they are nothing like breaking a knee on that high-compression Triumph.”

Sam thought his Triumph and Norton were worth more than Mark’s BMW and Harley. Mark thought the opposite. With a few more beers serious haggling began. More and more bikes were mixed into the deal. A semi-current Harley Ultra was put on the table. Mark threw in a couple of racing chassis and an old sidecar body. Each man enhanced the thought process with classic motocrossers. Additional beer was consumed. Unfinished projects were considered. Special tools and blueprints went with every scheme. More beer. A nearly dead Harley Sportster and a box of rusty parts were inserted. A bottle of bourbon was cracked. An antique bicycle hit the auction block but was trumped by an original 1930’s leather riding jacket with an Indian Chief logo painted on the back.

The afternoon turned into evening and everything was temporarily suspended when they went for dinner but instead ended up at the local tavern for a before-dinner cocktail. The more they drank the more they negotiated and the more things were added into the exchange.

When they returned to the shop a substantial quantity of alcohol fueled everything. Each man had temporarily decided they were bored with what they had been hoarding for 40 years and knowing what the other man had, now coveted it. Both of them were putting things on and taking things off the bargaining table that they would never have normally considered. Everything was up for grabs. In addition to things motorcycle, objects as small as a Bowie knife and as large as a player piano all had been added to the imaginary trading block. They were pulling out all the stops.

After drinking all afternoon and into the night, powered by bourbon, Mark and Sam finally decided the bartering was concluded and there was a handshake.

That’s when they had a historic idea!

Instead of going to all the trouble of moving everything from one person’s garage to the other’s, they would just trade shops and while they were at it, they would trade tool boxes, houses, cats, dogs, and, what the hell… why not wives and girlfriends?

Unable to contact Mark on the phone, three hours later Mark’s wife called Sam’s resident female companion. Mark’s wife: “I just took Sam out of a taxi. He’s very drunk and says they made a deal and part of it was a trade… you for me and he’s moving in.”

Sam’s lady friend: “Yeah, I know. Mark is asleep face down on the kitchen floor and he said the same thing. Said it was easier to trade houses and garages than move all the stuff. So… do you want him back?”

Mark’s wife: “Yeah, I guess. I’ll bring Sam back in the morning and take Mark off your hands. Don’t try and move him off the floor; just throw a blanket over him. See you in the morning.”


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