Wednesday, July 29, 2009

bicycle bloodletting

It's kind of funny (as in funny weird, not funny ha ha, ok, maybe ha ha sometimes) how this blog has morphed into something completely different from it's original intent.

You see, in the beginning, it was just a "look at my pretty pictures" blog. Oh, and a place to remind you when I take a shower or bought butter. :p But somewhere along the line, it changed to a place for you to "look at my pretty pictures, which btw, reminded me something from my past, so now they'll be a bloodletting."




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It started out innocent enough. Tanner was bored.
That's it. Just stuck out here in the country, with nothing to do, so he decides to drag out my bike and see what's wrong with it.

Yep. I have a bike.

Amazing eh?





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This is a special bike. And when I mean special I don't mean "special". I mean *special*.

Out in the world, there's a place that a whole lot of you have never heard of. This little chunk of land is called Sharpsburg, Iowa. Sharpsburg is just a hop, skip and a small jump from my hometown, Conway, Iowa and in comparison, a veritable metropolis. Sharpsburg has a booming 98 people compared to Conway's 68 (census 2000), and Sharpsburg is much more culturally diverse with 94% white, versus Conway's 100%. *cringe*

So you can see, any activity that takes place in Sharpsburg, would be quite the step up for a lowly Conway-ite.

So the end of summer, in 1979, when Sharpsburg put on it's annual Labor Day festivities, of course we all went. What they did there, I can't remember. I'm sure there was a show of some sort with some hometown musical act. Everyone brought their lawn chairs and faced the basketball court in the park while someone strums a guitar.

There was also always a big watermelon feed. Someone would bring in huge cattle troughs, fill them with water and gallon jugs filled with frozen water and hundreds of watermelons. One or two or twelve guys would stand there and cut watermelon for hours. I have no idea who donated them all, but there was no charge for the icy cold watermelon. We ate watermelon until the sticky pink juice ran all the way to our elbows.

And mom cussed because we were covered in stick.

Mom. It was free, it was ice cold, it was yummy. Forgive me?



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There was also a giveaway, I'm sure sponsored by some local elks or VFW. I can't remember if it was free, but I'm certain it probably was, as my mom most likely would have never entered the contest.

That year, they were giving away 2 bikes. One boys, one girls.

So when it came time to give away the bikes, I sat out in the crowd, like 99% of everyone expecting nothing. Then all the sudden, I hear my name over the loudspeaker. I was in shock. With most things in life that shock me, I sit sort of speechless.

I bet you wish I was in shock more often eh?

Someone pushed me in the direction of the brightly lit stage, and I walked up scared to death. The man holding the ticket looked at me and said "How did you end up winning a boy's bike?"

*deer*
*headlights*
*uh*

"My mom put my name in the wrong box."

There were some laughs, and a lot of mumblings, but I ended up pushing that bike off the basketball court and it made the ride in the back of the truck home. I'm sure it made a lot of people really mad, but I don't remember one person saying one word to me about it.

I had a brand new, bright red bike.

With a crotch crunching bar right down the middle. (sorry). To this day, I have never figured out why they put that bar on a boy's bike, but that's another story for another day.



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What I have failed to tell you is that I had only been riding a bike for a short period of time. I, being the youngest of 3 (at that time), I was also the subject of hours of torture. (pure entertainment for my siblings). I had also not learned to ride a bike until I was 9. Which in my siblings' eyes, might as well be really, really old. Like *40* or something.

Every day, mom would go off to work, and leave my 14 year old sister in charge of us all. Yeah. Huge mistake. Did I mention the torture? Yep. They'd sit me on that old hand-me-down bike for hours on end pushing me off an imaginary cliff 900 times a day, until I would rip off my kneecaps and fling them at them in hopes of getting away.

It rarely worked.

Then one day. *boom*
It just worked. I just... did it. They rejoiced. I beamed.

I still hated them for torturing me.
So no, I will never say thank you :p

So a year later, when this bike came my way, it was a taste of freedom. By this time, we were living in the country, where there's little to do, and if you wanted to visit your buddies, you needed to walk. Period. No mom with her Starbucks and her SUV setting up play dates at the park. Hell to the no.

Wanna play with Bev and TJ? Cool. *walk.to.town*
(BTW, TJ's old phone number as a kid was 2477. Seth's birthday? nope.. gotta pause to remember that. *sigh*) So it was great when a free ride came along.

That bike and I, we put in thousands of hours together, even in the winter. I got a basket for the front of it, so I could put my books in it when I drove it to school. I had to hide the bike tho, back then kids would have trashed it just to torture me. (can we see a theme here?) That basket? yep, it got mangled shortly after that because of a massive bike accident.

Another one.

I pulled it back as straight as possible. Picked gravel out of my palms for eleventy billion years, set my bike up and went again. That bike has been to hell and back, and I just can't seem to let it go.



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I grew up, and the bike was replaced with a drivers permit, but all the while, I just couldn't let my little lucky charm go. I moved out, got married and moved. 4 times. All the while dragging the bike along with me.

When I lived in town, there was even a point where the bike lived upstairs in Seth's room, hanging from the ceiling like a decoration. I liked it. He could care less.

There have been other bikes. Like when the ex and I, we weren't getting along all that well. In an attempt to strengthen our relationship somehow, I tried to adopt his hobby. Bike riding. I just went out and bought a bike. It was purple, and made me think of my old bike. Cept it had 10 speeds and fancy brakes.

Those brakes by the way. Ended up being a bone of contention with me for years. They squeaked. Not so much squeaked as propelled a blood curdling, ear bleeding, mind bending squeal.

Only louder.

I didn't know this when I bought it. It's after you leave the store and throw your body on it, go 29 miles an hour (probably an exaggeration) down a steep hill, that you figure out that you'll never hear out of your right ear again.

I asked the ex to fix it.
long story short. It was never fixed. I took it personal. It ate at my craw for a *really long time*. I hated that bike. Hated.it. It was a broken symbol of a broken attempt at mending a broken relationship.

So I did what I always do when things make me sad, angry, mad, frustrated.

I sold it.

This college girl came to my garage sale. She needed a bike, and didn't have a lot of money. She had her boyfriend and $15 with her. Asking price was $35. I looked at her and said "The brakes squeak", and she understood. I looked an him and said "will you please promise me you'll fix these brakes?" He agreed and promised he would.

I made him pinky swear and I promised to hunt him down if he didn't.

He swore again.

$15 was a deal.
A broke college kid had a ride, and I had exorcised a demon out of my life. All is right with the world and I've not been on a bike since.


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Then last week, Tanner dragged out my old bike, begged for me to buy inner tubes and new tires - which btw, cost more than the bike did brand new. I bought inner tubes.

He picked up a skill from his dad of working on bikes. I can remember many, many broken inner tubes and my ex being super pissed because he couldn't get them in. He must have mastered it, because within minutes, Tanner had the brand new inner tube, in the 30 year old tire.

It's sitting by my backdoor, and when I walk passed, it says "hello and good morning". I nod, and then plop myself in my shiny red neon and leave the gold old-fashioned lazy way.

He has patience. And an underlying way of nagging me.
Just like every other man in my life.

And now, I contemplate getting on it, and seeing if I remember how to fall down, and if gravel still hurts as much as it used to. My gut tells me it hurts worse. But this other nagging soul in my life keeps saying "nooooooo". That nagging soul is my butt. "you love me, please don't get rid of me!"

So today, I step on the bike, and sit down. Nope, I didn't ride anywhere, it still needs another inner tube, and probably new tires... oh, and streamers from the handles! I want those too!

And guess what. I've not grown one single solitary inch since 5th grade.
*sigh*

So if in the future, you're driving down a gravel road in NW Missouri, and you see a blond with a big butt, riding a super old fashioned, just 2 wheels, no speeds, no hand brakes, faded fuchsia (formerly red) bike with streamers, do me a favor. Just wave. Please avoid kicking gravel and dust in my face, just think of it as your little way of keeping me on a butt reducing program. :)

Oh, and there's one last little bit to this story.

Same town, same location, same day, one year later.

I won a blue girls bike :)
I gave it to my mom. She put a seat on the back for my new baby sister and we'd ride together on the back gravel roads of southwest Iowa.

On a butt reducing program.

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