Tuesday, May 8, 2018

You wobble down

You wobble down the road on an old squeaky bicycle with dusty rims and spokes and its chain caked with oil. It has one of those comfortable wide seats, supported by big couch springs or bed springs. Is that where the squeak is coming from? What else, besides the rider, can squeak on a bicycle? The handlebars shaped like your uncle’s old country mustache? The rusted speedometer with the broken glass that your older brother added years ago? The brakes worn to nubs that look like old erasers? Can spokes squeak? Can they speak? Can they sing? No. But they can hum. And anyway, who knows the words?


Stream Source said...

Your sweet story stirred this up, from the archives:

My little red bike (that was her most recent color, having had ten coats before it) was due for the local bike registration and safety check. I rode along to the event with my friends who had shiny new bikes... some with baskets and streamers from the handle bars. My little red bike had fenders crinkled like crumbled aluminum foil that had been carefully straightened out for reuse. The handle bars were rusty as the metallic finish had long worn away, and only bits of rubber handle grips remained. Such as it goes after having been handed to my two older brothers who had it handed to them by a well-to-do neighbor, years prior. But the tires were replaced and therefore sound and the brakes still engaged, so it was to be my bike.

They held the check up in the bank parking lot, behind the borough shed. When it was my turn, I stood with the police officer in charge of registration as he fumbled to locate the serial number. After searching for what seemed to me to be forever, he had to take out his pocket knife to scratch through the layers of paint where he thought the number should be. I don't recall, but I don't believe he ever did find it. It wasn't until that moment that it occurred to me that my bike may be substandard.

Out of sympathy, no doubt, he passed me and the bike. But I was so embarrassed by this little episode (and six year old girls don't even try to make you feel better about such things) I got back on little red bike, who now had lost all her luster and rode home to report what had happened.

After a week or two had passed, my grand-dad had scrounged the money to buy me a brand new, second (or third) hand bike. This one was blue. It had a basket and a hauler, with what appeared to be only one new paint job and very smooth fenders. The decorative, white pin striping had been carefully applied by hand. Come to think of it, I don't really know if my grand-dad had done all of that, of course he never said.

Wobble, squeak, speak, sing, hum...

William Michaelian said...

Ah, priceless. Thank you ~