I don’t know how to ride a bike.
No, I am not six. Can’t you tell by my fancy elocution and shit?
I am thirty-smoosh-years-old and I do not know how to ride a bike. This causes endless mirth and/or frustration in my bike-loving husband.
How did this shameful lack of ability come to be? ‘Tis a sad tale, to be sure. When I was a mere youth, I was given a Strawberry Shortcake bike. It featured a little basket, fancy-dancy shiny streamers, and a whole lotta pink. It also featured training wheels.
I rode it all over my yard. All the time! I loved it. Then it got old, because the training wheels were still on. I begged my dad to take them off. He said no. For some reason, he’d decided that until I rode it without using the wheels at all (as in no wobble, I guess), he would not take them off. Well, that kinda never happened. Because they were there. Always there. Little pink and white crutches. After a while, I grew bored and put the bike down.
No one took the training wheels off. And I still do not know how to ride a bike.
After a while, I became a little afraid of it. Some friends would try and force me on their bikes, but seeing as I’m five feet tall (with stupidly short legs), they would all be too big for me and just freak me out more. No one really wanted to take the real time to teach me because I was old enough to just know, you know? It was wretched! So I became ashamed.
It is at this point in my ridiculous story that you can mock me. Go ahead. I’ve heard it all.
My dad really regrets the bike thing now. I don’t think he realized how very much the bike thing warped me. But it really did. I never bought one for myself… because I don’t know how to ride one. The idea of being pushed into LA traffic now is terrifying, and I mean in a car!
My husband and I took a trip to Europe for our tenth wedding anniversary recently. The first day in London, we went to Hyde Park. The air snapped with cool fall freshness, the ducks waddled in the water, and dapper Dans on horses breezed through the dirt lanes. So pretty. So relaxing. Until my husband got a bright idea.
“Let’s rent bikes!”
Why would anyone ruin a perfectly nice park with a terrifying bike ride?!
I put on a brave face. After all, I was a fully fledged adult. Sure, I still sleep with my childhood blankie (DON’T JUDGE ME), but I could perform an activity that five-year-olds master. Sure.
So we put our pound coins in the slot and rented bikes.
And then I freaked out.
OMG it was high. And heavy. And too big for me! EVERYDAY LEISURE ACTIVITIES — noooooooooooooooo!
But after a few freaky minutes in which I really wanted that blankie (DON’T JUDGE ME), my husband began slowly teaching me how exactly to ride a bike. How to start with the pedals. How to put my foot down and stop, even though the horrid, wheeled beast really was too tall for me. (One size fits all my ass.) And then my thirty-smoosh-year-old husband began running with me, holding the handle bars, and helping me pedal a bike.
That is love. Maybe a little desperation. But mostly love.
We didn’t get many tries in. The sun soon set winsomely over the romantic/pathetic scene. He said he was proud of me. It meant a lot. I posed for a picture next to the vanquished collection of spokes and pedals.
I won’t say that I finally know how to ride a bike. He never actually took his hands off the handlebars before it got dark. But I have asked for a bike for Christmas. A silly, vintagey-looking piece of froth with a basket. Streamers if I can get them. And one of these days, I’ll be able to go to the beach with my best guy and accomplish the bike thing.
What’s the point of this? Besides all of you feeling better about yourselves through my piteous shortcomings? I guess the point is to not give up. To be proud in your small victories even when someone else is still holding the handlebars. To be nice to yourself. To remember that you can always learn a new trick, or pick up an old one. It’s like riding a bicycle, after all.