Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Bike

We all have things that have happened to us in our lives that stick with us for whatever reason. I'm not talking about the big life-changing ones, like being abused or mistreated as a kid, I'm talking about things that broke your heart--things that you wish, as an adult, that you could go back in time and handle.

For me it was a bike...

When I was a kid we lived in Worcester, Massachusetts--a relative big city that didn't have a whole hell of a lot in it. I didn't live in the inner-city, it was more like the neighborhood you see on "King of Queens." Busy streets, close houses, but otherwise just generally safe for kids to be in. My gang of buds were the neighborhood kids--and we were inseperable for many years. Our summers consisted of swimming pools, baseball at the Little League (more on that another time), and riding our bikes. Those bikes were our status symbol--much like having a car today.

The first "real" bike I had was a Huffy Bonanza. It was a cowboy-style bike with a bannana seat. I was (and still am) a little irresponsible back then, and I left my precious bike in the front yard of my house overnight one night. When I came out the next day it was gone.

I was completely heartbroken. It was the middle of the summer and I no longer had wheels. I got over it, of course, since the bike wasn't really that nice anyway, but the fact remained that as a kid I felt violated.

I had the best grandparents to ever live. My grandmother is still alive, in Florida, but my grandfather died shortly after I graduated from pilot training (another story for another time). One weekend they took me to Child World, the Toys 'R Us equivalent in Massachusetts. We went shopping for the son of a friend of my grandparents, and they were getting him a bike. Of course, I hadn't a clue. They told me to pick out any bike in the store for this kid. I went and picked out a Huffy BMX bike--gold and silver, with all the gizmos that bikes had at the time. It was probably the most expensive bike in the store for a kid. My parents didn't make that much money back then and I doubt that there was any way they could have ever afforded it. My grandparents bought it and we went to their house to put it together for their friends son. I remember thinking how lucky this kid was to have such a great bike. They even let me take it for a spin up and down their driveway. This thing just rocked, and it was better than any bike in our neighborhood.

Of course, eventually they told me that the bike was for me. I loved that bike with all my heart. I shined it, took impeccable care of it, and made sure it was locked up every single night. For weeks that summer that was all I did was ride that shining marvel around my neighborhood.

One day my buddy and I parked our bikes on the side of the house and I ran inside to get a drink of kool-aid. Moments later he came running in after me screaming that someone was taking my bike.

By the time I got back outside it was gone.

My parents called the police and we searched for it but of course we never found it. My Dad even called the cops one day because he thought he had seen it somewhere, but it turned out to belong to someone else and it wasn't mine. My heart breaks when my kids lose a toy thats important to them--I can't imagine what this must have done to my Mom and Dad. I eventually got a new bike but it never came close to the attachment that I had for that Huffy.

More than once I have wished to have the sons of a bitches that stole my bike in front of me today. I wonder how they turned out. I wonder how many other people's lives they hurt while they got their cheap thrills. I've often wondered how I would handle it--usually the answer I come up with is some form of viloence that would land me in jail, so I guess it's a good thing that my time machine doesn't work.

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