The Dirt Bike Deal

Standing in a Bass Pro Shops parking lot at 11 p.m. on a weeknight, waiting with my teenage son and his best friend to make a Craigslist transaction, I question my parenting judgment.

Earlier that afternoon, my son called me at work to tell me about yet another dirt bike he had found online to replace his current one. An upgrade kept eluding Sam due to poor timing with offers, poor grades, and just plain poorness.

The kid was due for a win.

“Mom! I found the perfect bike and a guy who’s willing to trade for mine and a few bucks!”

He described it as a 2000-something Suzuki-jumble-of-letters-and-numbers with a holy-stroke engine, new crutches, and up-your-rear suspension. Or something like that, I don’t speak Mechanic.

“Can you drive me there tonight? It should take about two hours.”

To me, this means a two-hour trip.

First mistake.

Sam and his intimidating six-foot-two best friend, Jacob, are standing in the driveway when I arrive home. We load up Sam’s Kawasaki-Something-or-Other onto the Jeep trailer and Google our destination to meet a guy who, according to Sam, “sounds nice from his texts.”

“Where are we meeting this stranger?”

“Knoxville.”

“Tennessee?” I sputter. “That’s at least three hours away from Charlotte!”

Talk about testing me: Turns out, it’s closer to four hours from our home in North Carolina, including one bathroom break and two stops to prevent the dirt bike from making an epic unmanned fall onto the highway.

During this long trip, we should discuss what we will do if we face a threat to our safety. Instead, we debate the quality of ‘80s music.

Second mistake.

We pull into the dark, deserted shopping center.

“Look for a black Dodge Ram,” Sam said. “It’s got stacks.”

“Stacks of what?” Wood? Guns? Bodies?

“Exhaust stacks, Mom.”

The menacing vehicle rolls out of the shadows towards us. I am unarmed and feeling unfabulous.

Third mistake.

What if we end up sleeping with the fishes in a Bass Pro Shops parking lot? What will the headlines say?

FISHY DIRT BIKE DEAL LEAVES DIRTBAG MOM, 2 TEENS, DEAD -- ON A SCHOOL NIGHT!

The truck door swings open and out pops a baby-faced, 19-year-old college student who politely shakes my hand. He offers the guys a test drive of his two-wheeler.

Engines roar. Wheelies are popped. Bikes are exchanged after Sam haggles for a better deal (that’s my boy!).

Fueled by coffee and the boys’ adrenaline, we arrive home an hour before Sam and Jacob usually wake up for school.

“Thank you so much! Not many moms would do this!” Sam grins.

We all hug.

Jennifer Zajac