The recent rash of motorcycle accidents and tragic loss of life reported in the Poteau Daily News has made me think again about Oklahomaâ€™s helmet laws.
There seems to be an unwritten rule of the universe: if a person rides a motorcycle for 30 years, he will crash. And we do all acknowledge if a person flies through the air, he needs head protection when he lands. It doesnâ€™t really matter then if heâ€™s 18 or 21 or 59, male or female, riding in Tulsa or Los Angeles or a back road of LeFlore County.
I did not always support legislation that demands people be safe. I remember being forced to wear a helmet before I was 18. It was hot and squashed my hairdo. I remember the freedom of riding around unfettered, letting my hair fly in the wind and getting bugs in my eyes. I also remember wearing shorts and tank tops on the back of my husbandâ€™s bike, trying to get a tan, with never a thought about losing skin.
I grew up; I saw friends get mangled on the highway. My husband now wonâ€™t take me around the block without a helmet, face guard, gloves, jacket and jeans. I donâ€™t try to tan my white skin anymore either because I donâ€™t want the melanoma that plagued some of my relatives. I have a new perspective.
I suppose Iâ€™m less self-centered than when I was a kid. I donâ€™t just think about my freedoms, but about my responsibilities. My friends and family donâ€™t need the grief. The public doesnâ€™t need my hospital bill or disability burden.
As I get older, I also think more about pain. Some of it seems to be inevitable but I try to avoid as much of it as I can, while still having fun in white water, through blue skies and on crystal beaches.
Iâ€™ve changed my views about other things also. I think pets should be neutered; pesticides do more harm than good; Planned Parenthood doesnâ€™t help plan a family; not all Democrats are Liberals and blueberries taste better than nachos. Itâ€™s all about taking in life experiences and being willing to admit I was mistaken about some things.
Now I wear a helmet when I ride a Segway down the sidewalk. And the state didnâ€™t even have to make a law to convince me.
Janet Short is a freelance columnist writing for the Poteau Daily News. A former Poteau resident, she now writes from north Texas and can be contacted by sending an email to: ShortTakesOnLife@gmail.com.