8 February 2016 | 8:39 pm
It is Super Bowl night at the Chop Shop Pub, a biker bar in Seabrook, New Hampshire. Bill “The Boss” Niland is addressing the crowd over a microphone. They call him the Boss because he is the boss of the bar.
“He talks funny,” Bill continues.
The clientele look at each other, wondering who this interloper could be. I’m standing near the front. I’m curious too. I look over my shoulder.
“His name’s Adam,” Bills says. He is talking about me. “He calls up here and says: ‘Do we have any bikers here?’”
This is true, I did.
“Well, do we?”
There are cheers and shouts of: “Yes!”
The Boss points to me. “He’s with the Guardian,” he says. He has a thick New England accent and it sounds like “Gahhhhhdian”.
I wave. There are a couple of cheers.
I’m at the Chop Shop to mingle with some bikers ahead of Tuesday’s primary. New Hampshire has the second most motorcycles per capita of all 50 states, so I would be remiss not to spend some time with the biker demographic. The bar is a one-story building with a small fish pond in the entrance area. There are nine gnomes around the pond and several goldfish in the pond. There is also a skull in it.
Introduction over, Bill puts the microphone down. The TV volume is turned up for the Super Bowl. A man with a long grey ponytail leans over.
“Any politician who thinks we’ve got to be disarmed needs to be strung up and killed. Write that.”
The man’s name is Bobby King. Bobby has an interesting voting history. He usually votes for himself, as a write-in candidate. He is yet to win an election. There was a three-year period where someone else had his vote, however.
“And I voted for my daughter from when she was 10 to 13.”
Bobby, 49, is at the bar with his girlfriend, Cherie. They have been dating for five years, although Bobby says it has been on and off. Cherie is noted in the biking community for her ability to fall asleep on the back of Bobby’s motorcycle. It is a large motorcycle, an Ultra Classic.
“It’s the biggest Harley. It’s like a fucking Winnebago. I think it’s got three bedrooms, two bathrooms, that kind of thing.”
This election there is one candidate, Bobby says, who might convince him to extend his vote beyond his immediate family. That candidate is Donald Trump.
“Trump is the only one who’s going to get my vote because he’s off his goddamn rocker,” Bobby says. “He’s right, build a goddamn wall. He’s got the right ideas.”
A big sandwich arrives and Bobby starts eating it. I go to buy another drink because bottles of beer are $1 each before 6.30pm and it is currently 6.29pm. Lady Gaga has just finished singing The Star-Spangled Banner and the game is about to start. Everyone stood up for the national anthem, facing a US flag on the wall. There is another US flag on the ceiling, and US flag bunting draped along the bar.
I get chatting to a woman wearing a leopard-print scarf and grey leather boots. I ask her what her name is.
“It’s Cooky,” she says. “With a Y, because I’m not a food.”
Cooky, 65, explains her political beliefs. She likes Trump. She likes Trump because he will create jobs and “safeguard our borders”, “he’s gonna have good tax plan” and “he’s self funding so nobody can buy him”.
“The other thing I think Donald Trump would be good for is the veterans and I’ve read up on him and he is very generous and has helped a lot of people.
“But he doesn’t boast that about himself,” Cooky adds, of a man who has spent the past week boasting about how he has helped veterans.
Cooky’s husband Paul likes Trump too. Everyone likes Trump here.
“He has a big heart and at his age he realizes that we’re going in the wrong direction,” Paul says. Paul is wearing a New England Patriots sweater. He shows me a picture of his motorcycle, a Harley Electra Glide. It’s a big motorcycle.
“You press a button and the windshield goes up and down,” Cooky says. The Electra Glide also comes equipped with a heated seat and heated handlebar grips. The pair like to blast music out of the Electra Glide’s speaker system as they ride. They like country music, but also the Cure and Depeche Mode.
We start talking about the Cure but my introduction from the Boss has made me quite popular, and a man called Rick Sargent is hovering. He is another Trump supporter, although he is concerned what might happen should the businessman become president.
“If Trump gets in office I honestly think he’ll be assassinated,” Rick says. He doesn’t offer a great deal of proof for his theory but he certainly says it with conviction.
Political insiders are “scared shitless of someone like him getting in there”, Rick says, gravely. And accurately. He says he will vote for Trump in the primary, “to send a message that something needs to change”.
It’s getting towards the end of the second quarter by this time and people have been buying me drinks for quite some time. It’s getting lively in the Chop Shop.
The Boss comes over and puts a plastic Viking helmet on my head. I have my picture taken with a former marine called Hank, noted for his bushy brown beard. A man called Timothy invites me to come back in the summer for a bar crawl. I make three new Facebook friends.
I take the Viking hat off but am told only Bill can decide when someone can stop wearing the Viking hat. There’s a shop in the corner of the bar selling Chop Shop merchandise. A woman helps me try on a skull ring, which is far too big for what she describes as my “little hands”.
I’m sitting on a stool, still wearing the Viking helmet, trying to describe the bar’s interior in handwriting that I will be able to read the next day when a man called Bubba – “just Bubba” – comes over.
“It’s a really nice place,” he says of the Chop Shop. “It’s like a big family.”
Bubba is a Trump supporter: “He’s bringing a point of view that isn’t common in politics.”
Also appealing is the idea that Trump is “a businessman, he’s not a career politician”. Everyone likes that. Bubba says some other things too, but the generosity of the Chop Shop family is beginning to take its toll, and when I look back at my notes it looks like I’ve been drawing pictures of a rough ocean.
I go looking for Bill and find him in a back office wearing a top hat. He offers no explanation for the top hat. He says he is known for wearing it and I am about to ask why when my phone rings. It’s a cab driver I called 20 minutes ago. He’s outside and he’s angry that I am nowhere to be seen.
Bill escorts me out of the bar and I get in the cab. It’s only then I realize a) I never even asked Bill who he is going to vote for, and b) I didn’t say goodbye to any of my new, Trump-supporting biker friends.
Oh, and c) at some point I managed to shed the Viking hat.
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