Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Life Story: Chapter Fifteen

It was around this age that I had really started to want a bicycle. I watched other kids in the apartment complex riding their bikes and I wanted to be a part of that. It's not like I wanted to join some biking culture. I just wanted to feel that freedom. The wind hitting you in the face. A playing card in the spokes to make it sound like a really crappy motor. The training wheels scraping the road ever so gently as you try to stay balanced.

It was also around this age that I had my first experience with the wishbone from a turkey. It was between me and Dad. Everyone kept saying for me to close my eyes, make a wish, and pull. As I shut my eyes tight, all I could think about was a brand new bike. I could picture it in my mind's eye. Nothing fancy. Nothing complicated. I wasn't even sure what a kid's first bike should be like, but I wanted one so badly I could taste it. Somewhere in the distance I heard Mom count to three and then say "PULL!"

My heart broke into a thousand pieces that Thanksgiving night. Dad walked away with the bigger side of the wishbone. His wish would be the one to come true. My wish would float off into a world of broken promises and unrealized potential and dreams that would never come true.

Upon seeing how upset I had become at not winning, Dad asked what I had wished for. And while the material child within me screamed at me to think bigger, I told him honestly, that all I wished for was a bicycle. He hugged me and told me not to worry, that I would get a bike. But even as a kid, I knew the way the real world worked. I knew that bicycles cost money. I knew that we could not afford to just go out and purchase a bike. He told me not to worry because he had wished for a lot of money.

This made me feel so much better. Obviously, if his wish was for lots of money, and he won the wishbone competition, he would be receiving lots of money any minute now. Within seconds, there was a knock on the door. Mom ran to the door and we were met with a group of eccentric people asking if we were the Pecks. One of them held a big bunch of balloons. One of them held an oversized check that said Publisher's Clearing House. We had just won $10,000!

Are you seriously buying this? If this is how the story of how I got my first bike really played out, I would have totally forgotten about the bike at the sight of a humongous $10,000 check.

The reality of it is that we had a big glass water-cooler bottle. Throughout the years I watched as my parents dropped pocket change into it at the end of each day. This was long before debit cards became such a precious commodity. This was back in the day when people actually carried around cash and had spare change at the end of every day. Over the years, that spare change began to pile up in that glass bottle. So the next day, Dad decided it was time to empty out that bottle and start all over.

This was the source of Dad's wish fulfillment. I don't know how much money he pulled out of that water bottle, but I know that it was more than enough to buy his son's first bike.

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