Pride Month — Yikes! Dykes on Bikes!

In between writing jobs, I went to work as a server at the same Dennys restaurant I’d been a manager at many years before. They put me straight on the day shift, imagine that.

My Dennys on Blackstone Avenue.

Just another normal weekend morning, hauling Grand Slams, Denver omelets and strawberry waffles to our crowds of famished guests and their screaming, highchair-bound crumb cruncher brats to be washed down by gallons of free refills of coffee, soda or iced tea.

As I lumbered out into the dining room with a heavy tray of food balanced on my open left hand, a stand to set it down on clutched in my right, a high-pitched, pulsating metallic whine began to reverberate through the restaurant. As the sound increased in both volume and intensity, the gaze of everyone in the building turned to the picture windows along the south wall and the parking lot just beyond, the location of the whine’s origin.

Mars Drive-in on Belmont Avenue when it was the main drag.

Now please don’t misunderstand me — this whine wasn’t anything like the unmistakable rattle-your-bones rumble we’d hear from miles away when  a hundred or so Hell’s Angels parked in front of the Mars Drive-in on the Main kicked over those oil-spewing, smoke-belchin’ Harleys to go on a run somewhere, but it was a whine no one could ignore just the same. There they were, revving their engines and lining up by the front door — a bunch of folks on a dozen or so rice-burners, some with windscreens and saddlebags, many carrying a duo of riders.

One of the old battleaxes asked me, “What is that?”

“Looks like we got us some hungry bikers,” I said, as I hurried to tray up and carry out another table’s order.

I lived in the Tower District. I knew the Gay Pride Parade was today, so as soon as I got a look at the first butchy gal who walked through the door waiting by the hostess stand, clad head to toe in black leather, a bright red triangular bandana dangling from her neck, an oversized wallet in her back pocket hanging by a chain, wearing those biker-preferred, squared-toed boots with the silver ring on the side, I knew they must be the infamous, seldom-seen, dreaded scourge of the Tower District known as Dykes on Bikes.

“Dykes on bikes,” I said to the old battleaxe as I passed by.

“Dykes? Dykes on what?” she asked.

“Bikes, dykes on bikes,” I said, “a lesbian biker club.”

“Lesbian biker club?”

Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything because panic instantly exploded among the female wait staff as they begged the hostess not to seat them in their section.

“I’ll take ‘em if somebody will help me carry their food out,” I finally said, offering a solution to ease the tension.

The old battleaxe agreed to help me.

We put several tables together for such a large group and breakfast was on.

The dykes joked with me and pulled on my ear a little, and I just pulled back. A little good-natured ribbing. We had fun. We all got along perfectly fine, and I suspect they probably appreciated my acceptance and my lack of fear.

The Fresno Klavern of the Knights of Ku Klux Klan.

That evening as I watched the evening news, one of the local television stations broadcast a story on the Gay Pride Parade. Sure, I saw the painted faces of the flamboyantly dressed prancers dancing joyfully around in circles and waving their rainbow streamers, the beats and chants of the passionate and incessant drummers among the crowd along the sidewalk, but I sat up to play closer attention as the Dykes on Bikes paraded down Olive Avenue in a side-by-side, two-by-two formation right in front of the Tower Theatre, a contingent of about 50 Ku Klux Klan members gathered half a block away on the corner of nearby Fulton Street protesting the event and insulting the participants as they passed.

As the Dykes on Bikes putted by, one of them got a little too frisky. He stepped just a little bit too far out into the street, and the rider on the back of one of those bikes grabbed the top of his hood. After a brief struggle, there it was — Mr. KKK’s astonished and blushing face, naked and dehooded, right there on the TV screen for all to see. As the camera focused in on him, he immediately abandoned his disguised companions and our righteous knight took off running down Fulton Street in his lily white robe.

I sat back and thought, wow, one of those gals collected a great and unusual souvenir of this year’s Gay Pride Parade — a genuine, honest to God KKK hood. And then I imagined how cool it would be if I had been the one who served her breakfast just a few hours earlier.

Just considering the possibility of me having even the most insignificant part in such tiny victory made me smile from ear to ear,