|This is not instagram, this is me in 1972|
I don't recall riding very much before the 'incident' occurred. I remember realizing that a tricycle was a bit of a rip-off as a mode of transportation. Running using your legs could get you places faster but the tricycle was a slightly improved version of walking. I don't remember any of my neighbourhood friends having tricycles so it wasn't a peer pressured acquisition. I had probably seen trikes on Sesame Street and imagined a whole new world of exploration opening up to me so I pestered my parents for one.
My mother has maintained, as did her father before her, that as one ages there are certain memories of early childhood that take on a crystal clear quality to them and they start to come back to you as you age. In the last few months I've had two very powerful ones return to me. I have not sought out these memories. They seemingly have been floating around in the nethersphere of my mind and after being poked at and prodded at by seemingly unconnected current events they decided to park in a neuron or two in my brain and literally crystallize.
The family story about my shiny red trike goes as follows:
"She sold her trike at the park so we never got her another bike after that. That taught her a lesson for selling her brand new bike for a dime no less!"
Despite my protestations when later informing them of the 'truth' (my bike was stolen) I don't think either of my parents have ever really believed my version of events.
Yesterday I was mulling over my recent entrance into the land of urban bicycling. I thought back, with enormous gratitude, to my aunt giving me her old two wheeled bicycle when I was about 10. For years my parents had held to their promise and my younger sister was finally on a two wheel and my aunt took great pity on me and gave me her clunky, old lady bike (my sister had a cool bike, or at least much cooler than the one gifted me). I learned to ride on that bike and am enormously grateful to my aunt now for providing me with it. I now ride my current old lady bike with pride. It's all about mobility and the ability to explore and this new found mode of urban exploration is a new world and I am excited about it.
At the end of this mulling I reflected back to when my trike was stolen. And then it hit me. The crystallization. I recalled, for the first time as an adult, the big kid telling me not to tell anyone about the stolen trike: "Or else". While he was delivering this threat to me I could see in the distance his equally big friend who was wheeling away my trike from the fence in the park where I'd left it with the other kids bikes and trikes. My trike was shiny and red so there was no doubt that it was mine. I watched the trike disappear with a sinking heart. I could not even share with my friends. I felt enormous fear and the certainty that this big boy would indeed deliver on his threat if I told.
So, clever child and problem solver that I was, I concocted a tale that laid the blame squarely on me so that this threat could never be acted upon. I also wasn't that devastated since I had had the trike long enough that my eye was already on the bigger goal of a speedy two wheeler. My reasoning process could not have foreseen the long term consequence of this fictitious tale and I would go 5 or more years before my aunt took pity on me and gifted me her 'old lady' bike. Long after we moved away from that neighbourhood I tried to tell my parents the story of the stealing but I don't once recall ever adding the bit about the friend bullying me. I think part of the reason I 'hid' that bit was because my younger sister would have pounced on yet another reason to ridicule me for being a wimp.
The two older kids that stole my bike probably regarded me as a cute little rich kid whose parents could well afford to get their darling girl another trike. I do know that they lived in the area so I pretty much avoided that park again. I didn't want to be questioned or threatened again.