By Lisa Luigs Morrissett
You never know who might be inspired by the simple act of embracing the power of play.
Earlier last month, a friend posted a link on Facebook about a group of women in Hamilton, Montana, who gathered for what they called “The Witches Bike Brigade.” The picture of these women dressed up, smiling, laughing, and clearly having the time of their lives, was purely irresistible. I was compelled to re-post, if only for a little giggle before scrolling along to watch the next cat video.
I was completely surprised by the overwhelmingly enthusiastic reaction from friends that WE MUST DO THIS!
It got me thinking that yes, actually, we must do this.
Why do kids get to have all the fun on Halloween? I confess, I'm desperate for any excuse to play with my friends, but I had no idea other grown women felt the same way. I’m more than a little jealous my daughter gets to spend most every day hanging out with her friends. Who moved my fun? It was time to assume the role I’d been born to play: Mischief Maven.
As Halloween drew closer, the weather looked less and less cooperative. What started as a large coven began to shrink faster than a cheap hot-washed-and-dried cotton t-shirt. Each of us hemmed and hawed: to ride or not to ride? Waiting until literally the last possible second, I decided screw it, I’m doing it and hoped like hell someone else would show.
Lo and behold, 10 other brave souls decided the same thing.
Outfits ranged from a $1 Goodwill hat to a full-on gorgeous witch ensemble complete with a corseted, sweeping black coat. The intrepid group included a down-to-earth vice-president of a large corporation, a chatty spinning class master who could’ve ridden all night, a proper English lady with a wicked sense of humor, a coffee-slugging pet sitter, a salt-of-the-earth equestrienne, a compassionate accountant who collected food pantry items from us, a hilariously outgoing swim coach, and several delightful women new to the village. We came from different walks of life, but shared the common thread of not letting a little rain ruin an outlandish parade.
As it had been a few months since I’d last ridden my broomstick, I was a bit shaky in the saddle. The rain didn’t help, but at least it wasn’t snowing (always a possibility in this neck of the Midwest Coast).
There were a few factors we hadn’t anticipated, the most obvious being the effect of aerodynamic lift on an oversized witch hat. Even though we had one hand strangling the handlebars and the other hand firmly attached to the black 747s perched atop our heads, many successful hat liftoffs ensued. Ride 100 feet, hat flies off, everyone stop, pick up soggy hat, try to gain momentum, ride 100 feet, hat flies off…
The wannabe badass gang of biker moms looked more like first-time stick shift drivers.
After several false starts, we found our rhythm, and decided our first “witch bombing” should be the driveway of The American Club. We spied people taking pictures of us from the restaurant while a valet attendant tried very hard to avoid eye contact, most likely fearing he would turn into a pillar of salt. Some things you just can’t ignore. Or unsee. Like a band of middle-aged witches on bikes in the front of a five-star resort. We were laughing so hard at our own absurdity we could hardly stay upright.
With no logged flight plan, we roamed the village like an unpredictable flock of screeching magpies. “Oooh – let’s go here! Oooh – next we go there! Don’t forget my house!” Trying to get ahead and set up for a good group shot, our resident reporter/photographer admonished us. “You ladies are hard to stalk!”
As kids collected their FDA-approved serotonin-covered heroin-like nugget bombs, we wobbled along, accidentally terrorizing several small children, delighting some older ones, and successfully amusing the surprised adults who no doubt wished they were riding with us.
I may have crossed the fine line of decorum when we rode by the house of our sweet yoga-teaching GMO vigilante, taunting her with shrieks of, “We want high fructose corn syrup with red dye #2 and we want it NOW!” Not sure if she’ll ever forgive me, but maybe she’ll leave me alone when I wax lyrical about the health benefits of candy corn pumpkins.
One dad asked if men were allowed to ride next year.
A well-seasoned triathlete dubbed us the “Witch Peloton.” I might have to incorporate a yellow jersey into my outfit next year.
One stop included wassail from friends who own a pediatric dentistry practice. I may or may not have made fun of them for passing out toothbrushes in a lame attempt to pretend they were “protecting” kids’ teeth, but knowing full well that "Halloween” is French for “job security.”
Hard to believe only one of us crashed. Blame it on the wa-wa-wa-wa-wassail…
One by one, the soggy witches waved goodbye and drifted home, no doubt with cold hands, tender rears, shredded vocal cords, sore abs from hours of laughter, and fun tanks overflowing.
In her poem “The Summer Day,” the magnificent Mary Oliver poses the question: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
I’ll continue to ask my friends if they can come out to play, then put on my witch hat and ride.
Photo credits: Mary Struck/ Kohler Village Community Newspaper
Lisa Luigs Morrissett is a card-carrying hockey mom still trying to figure out what to be when she grows up. She secretly hates Christmas and is addicted to classic R & B and cheesecake. Lisa's fondest wish is to play golf with Justin Timberlake, and unfortunately knows from experience that tequila does indeed make one's clothes come off.