Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sunday reminiscin' 1: How to ride a bike when you grow up in the sticks, or, why I hate the name Gary

Most people have fond memories of playing with wheeled toys (tricycles, roller skates, bicycles, etc.) as children. I do as well, but for me, growing up in the middle of nowhere (no streets, no sidewalks for miles and miles), roller skating and the riding of wheeled toys proved to be somewhat more challenging than perhaps it might be for the average kid. We had a very small linoleum-covered kitchen floor, and we had a dirt driveway. We had a big field that sloped uphill, full of cow poop (because our house was in the middle of a cattle ranch). There weren't really many places to make use of wheeled toys, but somehow I made do.

I know I had a tricycle when I was really little, but I don't remember riding it. It gained a new life later on; rust removed and repainted, handlebars replaced, when my little sister was a kid (and we lived in an area much more conducive to riding said vehicle). The first wheeled transportation I remembered playing with was these plastic roller skate things that I could wear over regular shoes. I think they had a strap over the toes and a strap over the arch with velcro, and the skates themselves were adjustable so as to be able to wear them as one's feet grew larger. I entertained myself for hours at age four skating around and around that little room, probably 10 feet by 10 feet. I tried to use them outside on the driveway, but it never worked. Later, after I'd outgrown them my sister was able to use them on the deck that my dad added.

When I was six, I have a very strong and fond memory of getting to go to a store and choose a bicycle. The bike I chose was blue and it came with a basket on the handlebars with little plastic flowers. Somehow, the basket fell off relatively quickly, but I still rode that bike all the time up and down through the field, up and down the driveway, and up to the neighbor's house and back. I only needed training wheels for a few days and then figured out the whole balancing thing on my own (maybe ballet had something to do with it; I don't really know). Also, I rode barefoot and in any outfit/costume I happened to be wearing at the time I felt like riding. I think the bike was a little big for me at first, because I was able to ride it until I was 10 and we moved. After a year or so, one of the plastic pedals fell off, so all that was left was the metal piece with two metal brackets. I still rode barefoot anyway, so to this day I bear scars on my ankle from the pedal brackets. I was a hardcore kid.

My middle sister got a bike when she was about 4 years old. I was kind of jealous of it, because it was purple, but really it was way too small for me. The training wheels stayed on for a long time, mostly because we discovered that if we placed the back tire over a divot in the field and the training wheels suspended it in place, we could pedal on the bike and it wouldn't go anywhere. We called it the exercycle.

We had a puppy when I was seven (to replace the dog who died on my birthday) that spent hours happily chasing me and my sister on our bikes. In fact, I don't think we ever managed to tire her out. She was about half grown one day when we left for the day (it must have been summer) and we came home to find her missing. We drove around the area for the rest of the day, calling her name (Gracie), looking for her. We were all scared, because a neighboring landowner had told everyone around that he'd shoot a strange dog on his property on sight. My mom went over to speak to him, but he assured us he hadn't seen our dog (and wouldn't shoot if he did see her). We didn't know what else to do, so we started calling other neighbors and area shelters. We had a couple of clues within the next day or so; some people in town had reported seeing her running around. Town was five miles down the hill.

We searched, called, went house to house handing out flyers and talking to people. Nothing. A few days later, a houseguest of our closest neighbor told us that his relatives had been up for a visit the day our dog went lost. It turned out that they'd decided to ride their bikes down the hill to town and then got in the car and came back up. Our dog, used to following me and my sister on our bikes, had followed them all the way to town - and then, even though they knew she had followed them, they just left her in town and came back. Our poor dog, probably only about 8 or 10 months old, disappeared. We never knew what happened to her, and hope that she found another family to love her. The neighbor's houseguest's name was Gary, and ever since I have harbored a little grudge against him and have hated the name Gary. Because he was a big asshole who lost our dog for us and didn't do anything to help get her back, and didn't even tell us for days what had happened.

1 comment:

Yank In Texas said...

Oh that poor puupy! What an asshole of a neighbor guest!!!!