I moved off the Navy Base at about 11 years old. We moved into a regular neighborhood with kids everywhere. My best friend, Gloria, lived directly behind us. We were inseparable from the moment we met.
When Gloria got a brand new bike, it was no surprise, I was the first person she called. When I say called, I don’t mean on the phone, we did it the old fashioned way – Gloria climbed up on her backyard fence and shouted at me to come over. I ran outside, scaled both fences and I was there. We must have jumped those fences separating our houses no less than 10 times a day!
Back to the new bike. Gloria took me to the front yard where the bike was parked. I remember seeing it for the first time sitting at the curb – A Schwinn, every kid’s dream! “The Pink Picnic” was her name. It was written in a fancy cursive on the pink chain guard plate. She was glorious in all her pink & shiny chrome splendor! Pink and white checkered banana seat! Pink and white tassels dangling jauntily from her shiny handlebars! We both stood there in awe of her beauty. No bike in the history of bikes will ever compare to The Pink Picnic!
Little Gloria said to me, “Wanna ride it?” I couldn’t speak, I just looked at her and nodded yes. I slowly walked toward the sparkling new bike, she was even more pristine close up! I threw my leg over the banana seat and sat down. I looked over at Gloria and we smiled that ‘no need for words’ smile of very best friends. She gave me a nod and I kicked up the kickstand to prepare to ride. I started slow at first and then started pedaling faster… this bike was a dream! Pure kid joy!
At the end of the street, I turned and headed back. Then IT happened… I don’t know how IT happened, but after the turn I lost a bit of control, I wobbled! Before I knew what happened, I drove The Pink Picnic directly into the bumper of a parked car! At impact I fell off the back. The once shiny, perfectly formed handlebars took the brunt of the crash. Even from my angle, splayed out on my back in the street, I could see they were bent – VERY bent! Gloria came running down the street with a look of despair on her face. She picked up The Pink Picnic, with her visibly contorted handlebars and started to cry. Then she glared at me. I started to cry too! Truth be told, I think I was faking hurt so she would be less mad at me – it didn’t work. She leaned the once perfect bike against the car and then pulled back her little fist and hit me in the arm for all she was worth! I took it… I deserved it!
Gloria got on her bike and rode home. I’ll never forget the sight of my best friend riding off on the now listing horribly to the right bike. She had to battle those right turning handlebars for the rest of that bike’s life. I don’t think she could ever turn left!
Gloria went on to eventually forgive me, as best friends do. But, my part in the destruction of The Pink Picnic has lived with me forever.
I’m still sorry, G.