Toni had an “i” not a “y” but was still one of the guys. She’d grown up around the motorheads, raised by a kindly old retired biker who had settled down but never truly settled. He taught Toni everything she knew - how to ride, how to change oil, how to rebuild an old single cylinder thumper into a badass bobber - and she had loved him for it. Toni felt alive in the garage more than she had ever felt in school, but her mother had forced her to graduate at least through the high school portion of it. Luckily her father had hired her afterwards so she didn’t have to bother with the vocational school three counties away.
The other garage rats were all Toni’s best friends, and they went out drinking and riding (just never at the same time - Toni’s uncle had died that way and Toni made sure to count everybody’s shots at the bar). They weren’t just a motorcycle gang - they were a motorcycle family.
But poor Toni had a problem: she felt lonely still.
She had tried dating guys after high school, but most of the boys just wanted somebody to stay home and pop out babies. Toni was too wild for that - she might consider kids one day, but not now. She had life to live first and she couldn’t do that stuck in a housewife’s apron. Her father had told her to take her time and wait for love to find her, yet Toni still felt lonely. When she tried dating other biker guys things inevitably blew up, and Toni felt tired of blowing up all the time.
One day Toni’s best bro Al plopped down besides her as she tinkered under her bike. “Oi. Look at this, T.”
She slid out and wiped a big swath of grease over one cheek. “What? I told you I don’t wanna see your porn mags, I ain’t a lesbian.”
“Nah, T, I found you porn. Dig this guy.” He held up the magazine again and Toni squinted. She probably had nearsighted vision, but she refused to get tested. They might give her glasses and force her to be a nerd.
Snatching the magazine and holding it close, she scoffed. “What, a ‘metrosexual’? What the hell’s that? They makin’ up terms now? How do you feel ‘attracted’ to metros?”
“Nah, Toni, read the interview. He explains it better.”
“Is this like when you swear to me you read Playboy for the articles?”
Al’s eyes narrowed. “I can enjoy both, Toni. It’s called studying your enemy.”
“Really? Your enemy?”
“Hey - love is a battlefield, right? I ain’t losing to no girl, and if you ain’t a lesbian then that means I still lost to something else.” He tapped the article again. “Just read it. Tell me what you think.”
With a heavy sigh, she paused her work and read. She actually read pretty fast - it’s why the boys often asked her to translate their tech manuals for them - but the article gave her a bit of trouble, mainly because the language felt so different. “Huh. He says he just likes to feel ‘handsome’ and that people need to respect men who have ‘culture’ - bro, this guy sounds like a jacked up pompous ass. No.” She handed the magazine back.
“But is he handsome? Like, did you find him attractive?”
“Sure, till I read his words - can’t love somebody if you can’t stand to hear them talk, bro.” She went back to tinkering.
Al took another deep breath. “Toni - I think you need a metrosexual.”
She laughed out loud. “Really? What the fuck for? Am I supposed to cart his little ass around the city on my bike?” Toni actually lamented the fact that motorcycles weren’t really built for a taller passenger. Most models jacked up the rear so the rider’s legs could tuck under and be safer that way - trying to put a tall guy on the back had caused Toni no end of troubles. Yet somehow Toni never seemed to fall for the guys who liked bikes. Instead she just fell for short guys, most of whom ended up having hot tempers like hers.
“I think you can be kind of inflexible -”
“WHOA - what the hell??”
″- and you need a guy that can bend, but not just put up with your shit.” He nodded solemnly. “You know, how like your mom keeps your dad in line, but lets him play in the garage?”
She glared. “Gee, thanks for psychoanalyzing me as my Dad, Al.”
“I’m just saying! I know you’ve been lonely, and I don’t think you’re finding what you need here.”
“That doesn’t mean I need some ‘metrosexual’ guy!”
“No, but...” He ran his greased fingers through his hair in frustration. “Look, you know how princes go rescue princesses from towers? Like, think of the city as a big fucking chrome tower.” He pointed to her bike. “That’s your steed. I think you need to ride in there and go save yourself a princess. You gotta take the lead, because you need a guy who’s cool with girls who do that. And you’re always complaining to me that guys don’t like it when you ‘come off too strong’ at the bar.”
Toni raised an eyebrow. “Really, love master? This is your solution? Besides, what the fuck am I saving that guy from besides his own goddamn arrogance?”
“Exactly! See, you get it!”
She shook her head. “You’re nuts, Al. Just get over me already and go hit on Gloria. You know you’re the only one of the guys she gives extra muffins to, right?”
His face went blank. “Wait - really?”
“Bro, seriously? You don’t notice how she flirts with you?”
He frowned. “I thought she was just being friendly. It’s not nice to assume girls like you when they’re just being nice.”
“Oi vey, bro - she likes you. Trust me. Just go ask her out sometime. Save her from that kitchen dungeon she works in all day.” Gloria loved baking, but even Toni knew sometimes you needed a break from your everyday. She often wished she could think of some kind of hobby outside the garage. The motor fumes alone were probably slowly killing her when she wasn’t outside riding more.
“Alright, fair turnabout - but I’m only gonna do it if you start riding into the city on the weekends.” Crossing his arms his jaw set. “As your wingman I can’t exit the battlefield until both of us are victorious.”
With a laugh she spun her wrench. “Fine. You know what? I’ll head into that city. And I’ll go hit on the first corporate shill I see.”
“No! Fuck, Toni, are you listening to me? I said metrosexual - not corporate shill!”
“What’s the difference?”
“I dunno, just - trust your gut, huh? Don’t just hit on the handsome guys, like hit on the polite ones. Like me, just if I were in a suit and maybe more of a confident jerk.”
“Fine, whatever. I’ll go into a big city bar, all greased up and boyish, and we’ll see what happens. M’kay?”
Al beamed. “Excellent! And then you gotta tell me what happened.”
“Bro, you are such a girl. And I don’t gotta tell you shit unless you go and ask Gloria out.”
“Okay! Okay!” He smiled and slugged her in the arm. “Love you, bro.”
“Yeah, yeah, big fucking hearts all around, you stupid lovesick ape.” She kicked him back. She always wished she could have just fallen for Al, honestly speaking. Yet sometimes she needed a brother more than she needed a mate - and Al fit the first role too well to lose him. As an only child Toni had never had any siblings, and she took what she could get. Besides, Gloria had had her sights on Al since grade school and Toni respected a woman who baked her way to people’s hearts. She kinda wished someone would bake their way to her heart some days too. Al’s always fucking hungry anyway - Gloria will keep him better fed than I ever would...and she gives me extra muffins too but I won’t say that out loud.
As she finished up taking care of her “noble steed” she paused and looked once more at the magazine Al had left on the floor like the dumb kid he still sort of was. Picking it up she read through the article again. Man, it would be kind of fun to have a guy to debate with instead of just slug out over a bar fight. Bet these guys couldn’t throw a punch to save their souls, they’ll just bitch a lot and think I give a damn. She frowned. Maybe Al had a point - she could be a bit inflexible, but eh, that was her charm.
Maybe she did just need a guy who could bend more.