(This essay was first published as part of my “book” on my other website.)

My doctor rides a Harley and my banker works in jeans.
Yeah, really.  When we went to a local bank to open an account here in 1968 we were a bit surprised to see, in what was then a Europe much more formal than the US, the bankers were wearing blue jeans.  It seemed to be the norm.  It wasn’t until we had dealings with a local lawyer in the mid ‘90s that we were again as startled, but this time to find him - a native Ibicenco - wearing Gucci shoes and a silk suit.  However his attire was probably more incongruous than the bankers, since we were tramping with him through our heavily-wooded hillside property at the time.  And it also may have been an aberration, since we’ve not seen him dressed that well since.
Very casual male attire still dominates - with obvious support from arriving male tourists who are delighted to find there is no pressure to “dress for dinner” - nor, for that matter, for any other reason.  However, what the men wear has little or no influence on the women.  Some of the most impressive women’s shops we have seen anywhere are on or near the Vara de Rey (the central plaza in Ibiza city) even though the roots of the island’s base population are still rural.  But the island also attracts a lot of hip and aspiring young people - along with a fair sampling of “fashionable” people of all ages - from all over Europe and when they come here they all know the competition will be fierce.  As a result, German women make sure they are better dressed than the fashionable French while the Italians go all-out to display their “trademark” snap and flash and many of the local young ladies make sure they establish their own solid reputation for pushing the edge of the envelope with clothes from the several local designers in what is, after all, their own territory.  As a result, it is not unusual to see an unsuspecting tourist, usually male, sitting at a sidewalk café along the Vara de Rey, holding a cup of coffee in midair nearly until it gets cold as a result of being transfixed by the “passing parade” of extraordinarily attractive women - who are often accompanied by men wearing shorts and sandals.  
Once we were having lunch at one of those sidewalk cafés and noticed an elderly couple at a near table who were obviously cruise-ship tourists, “just off the boat.”  Since cruise tourists are usually in town only for a few hours, they nearly always try to absorb the “essence” of the place by intently gawking and sometimes asking unexpected - popularly called “stupid” - questions.  But these two old folks were trying to be circumspect, while still taking it all in.  (I suppose I’m required to acknowledge that they may not have been any older than we are, but they appeared to be.  Honestly.)  They were from Pittsburgh and weren’t particularly well-traveled and so when their bill came, they had no euros to pay it.  This is not usually a problem - except when the waiter has taken a dislike to you or when you are at one of the few defiantly-independent establishments where they are determined to show you they do not give a damn about any damn tourists.  And this was one of those situations; the young waitress just had no patience with old folks who didn’t have their act together.  So we tried to help and changed some money for them.  They were grateful and asked if we were from their ship and we said, “No, we live here.”   It always seems to startle American tourists to find Americans living here (it’s understandable, there aren’t many of us) and this usually starts a string of questions that is hard to get stopped.  This time the woman (Rachel) said, “I’ve just one question:  Are all the young women here beautiful?  I’ve never seen so many drop-dead gorgeous women in one place in my life.”  We smiled, shrugged and helped Rachel and Morrie find their way back to their ship, as Morrie was beginning to need his rest.
As far as we know, there is only one reason for any man to own a tux on this island and that is if he regularly attends one or more of the Mason’s several annual charity events.  Though I am not a Mason, we get invited to them and often attend and I, mistakenly, wore my tux to their Christmas party one year, not remembering it was their one event that is not “black tie.”  In a perverse way, that turned out to give me a social advantage in that I became known as the only man on the island who would wear a tux when it wasn’t demanded of him.  Women, it seems, disproportionally appreciate men who do not break into a cold sweat and try to hide when they hear the word, “tuxedo.”  But I also believe my mistake got Mary Beth some of the credit either for having trained me well or else for being clever enough to have found a man who (apparently) doesn’t hate neckties. 
And then there is the matter of the doctor with the Harley, a relatively young, bearded German who rides an orange Harley to his office and leaves it, not just parked in front, but on the sidewalk under his office window where it is hard for his patients to avoid knowing who owns it.  Being Europe, bikes of all sorts are common here, probably given an extra push in places like Ibiza due to the many narrow roads where bikes are, unexpectedly, the safest way to get around.  On these roads cars approaching each other head-on have to be extremely cooperative in order to get past each other.  If you are driving on one of those roads and see someone coming at you in another car - no matter how distant - you need to pull over at the very next wide spot and wait.  It only gets dicey if the other driver has done the same thing, because then neither of you will know who is supposed to move first - which leads, of course, to fits and starts often of comedic proportions.
As far as I know, there is no recognized method of deciding and signaling which driver should move first and it must be some perverse law of nature that requires both drivers always to simultaneously look up, see the other car pulled over and then start to pull out only to then notice the other driver has done the same thing.  Once started, these simultaneous starts and stops are difficult to bring under control and a casual observer might believe the entire event had been choreographed.  The basic condition for this phenomenon is familiar, of course; it happens all the time in all kinds of traffic situations.  But the difference here is that in “normal” situations, the drivers are within close enough range of each other that gestures and other forms of non-verbal communication can have an effect.  Here the cars are often so far apart that it is even difficult to tell when or if the other car has started to move.   But if it begins to seem you will be there forever, it always works to just leap from your car and motion wildly, while hoping any observers will not consider your behavior a sign of dementia.  So the motorcycle solution does have great appeal.
Being someone who likes all things mechanical, I’ve always had a latent interest in motorcycles, particularly the foreign ones, possibly because they were foreign and, therefore, exotic, but I also think it was because (except for the two-cycle varieties that I had no interest in anyway) the foreign models usually made a hell of a lot less noise than the Harleys and Indians that I grew up with.  So, when there were real Ducatis and BMWs to be seen in the showrooms here, that seemed to me as good as having a motorcycle museum.  However the “American Motors” sign on a small shop on a narrow street confused me.  The shop seemed too small to have ever housed even one Nash Rambler and, even if it could have, they must have been waiting a very long time for their new models to come in.  So I explored and found it was the Harley-Davidson dealership.  Here it is the Harleys that are the exotics and so they do not rely on real or play-like Hell’s Angels for their primary customer base.  Perfectly upright citizens (obviously including the occasional doctor) do not necessarily lose their golf club memberships by showing up on a Harley.  In a strange reversal of values, when it comes to establishing status, any Harley here will edge out a new BMW.  So this shop’s decor and furnishings were unexpectedly classy and made it look more like they were selling Bentleys than Harleys.  It took no mental adjustment to see that the amazing-looking Buell on display belonged there.  The Buell was entirely black, except for minimal bronze brightwork; no chrome anywhere.  It was the most conservative, elegant and all-around best looking, bike I had ever seen and, I’m convinced, ever will see.  It was the sort of moment that made me fleetingly believe that buying it might not necessarily result in my divorce.  That was a few years ago and I keep looking for it on the streets, but haven’t seen it again.  I have, however, several times seen an impressive and spotless Norton parked outside one of the cafés in Santa Gertrudis, a village that seems to have been taken over by a tribe of compulsively cool expats.  I suppose the owner must ride it, but very, very carefully.  
Of course, all the Japanese bikes are represented by local dealerships, but how can anyone get serious about something that always runs like it is supposed to without your owning a lot of special tools and knowing all its secrets?  Where is the romance in that?  Fortunately, a lot of the expats here are not over-encumbered with practicality and so are more interested in the romance than in the reliability - which also helps explain why there are a few old Triumphs (bikes, not cars) on the road.  (The local owners of old Triumphs and of 2CV Citroëns seem locked head-to-head in a competition for the title of Most Irrationally Fanatical and Devoted Machine-freak.)  
Since the very frequent fiestas sometimes include parades, there are periodic opportunities to show off some of the old cars owned by members of the local Antique Auto Club.  There are always some interesting cars, but also some entries that just raise interesting questions; such as: What amount of clout does it take to get admitted to the antique car club on the strength of owning a 1963 Dodge?  Maybe all that is required is to have the guts to drive it in the parades.  Following the cars in the parades are always a great many more old bikes than cars - not counting the roughly 10% still in the parking lot as the parade leaves them behind because they refused to start.  The standards for a bike to qualify for the parade are also vague, but seem (like the cars) to heavily favor anyone willing to do it.  Still there are some interesting entries and a few of them are truly rare.  The owner of a local bike rental shop has several of note and he likes to keep one of them, a WW II military motorcycle, “inconspicuously” sitting outside his shop, as if it were in daily use.
So, given this culture, our doctor really doesn’t draw much attention.  A few people sometimes comment on the color of his Harley, but seldom does anyone mention what is, to us, the obvious strangeness of an MD riding a motorcycle.  It is, however, possible that few people even know about it.  It is unlikely anyone would recognize him riding it.  After all, he is just another beard in a helmet on a bike.  What could be more common?
© Gerald L. Andrews