I think "mgrant" gave some good advice - far be it from us to discourage you from a lovely British bike, but for your first ride I'd consider something else.
Depending on what kind of funds you have (and seeing as how you're ruling out a Harley merely for the "me too!" aspect I suspect you may have a few bucks to spend), I'd encourage you to look at a Buell Blast!
Why? Well, 1) it's a 400cc one-cylinder [i.e., low-tech] w/ decent enough power to get on the freeway 2) engine by Rotax [been building cycle engines since God was knee-high to a grasshopper] and 3) you can pick up a good used one locally or on eBay for $2,500-$3,000, thus leaving you enough to buy a ~$2,500-$3,000 Commando to play with while you have something dependable and stable to learn on.
The girls won't fall all over you & you won't be beating any inline-4 crotch rockets, but you'll have a solid, dependable and forgiving bike to learn on, and when you find out what the crotch-rocket jockey is paying for insurance you'll laugh all the way to the bank...
If you like to tinker or if you've got the funds to have a decent bike mechanic keep the Commando for you, have at it; don't get the idea that the old bikes are fragile, but they just aren't built to "appliance spec".
P.S. - and reserve some funds for some decent safety gear!
What should I look for in a beginner's bike? What's a reasonable price range? I'm looking for the Commando w/ fairing, small seat, curved rear cap, etc. for local weekend rides.