First of all, I will freely admit that the inspiration for this post comes from the latest post at Hyperbole and a Half. I dare you to read it without laughing. However, I haven't posted in a while and, while I cannot draw the pictures as Allie can, I have my own traumatic story.
The summer after I'd turned six, my dearest wish was to spend the night at YMCA day camp. They did one sleep-over every summer where we'd all spend the night OUTSIDE! in SLEEPING BAGS! and it was the highlight of my summer, possibly my year. I wanted to go even more than I wanted to meet Big Bird. Daddy had one stipulation: I had to learn to ride a bike first. Cool; I wanted to do this! Riding bikes meant freedom and wind in my hair and awesomeness! Yay!
He taught me on my older brother's shiny silver Huffy dirt bike. It had hand brakes and semi-working foot brakes. I was too little to get on it by myself; my dad had to balance the bike and lift me on. Thus, I could not get off, either, without the bike falling on me.
God, how I learned to hate that bike.
I can picture it now, haunting my six year-old imagination, leaning against the garage all shiny and tall, waiting to tip me over. Laughing at me. How it taunted me. Bastard bike. No lingering mental scars here.
I quickly learned to fear the sound of Daddy's car coming home from work: The door would slam and I'd hear the dreaded words: "Let's practice bike riding!" I would run screaming in terror and try to hide. (It's true. Ask my mom.) I think part of the reason it took ALL SUMMER was that I would leap off the bike before it had a chance to eject me, and Dad would curse and make me try again, implying this time, I'd better stay on that bike.
Finally, the day before the sleep-over arrived. I uttered a final prayer and was told that if I could make it all the way up the driveway and into the garage, I could go. Only the thought of me in my Strawberry Shortcake sleeping bag, my stuffed monkey Rocky by my side, allowed me to wobble my way quickly up the driveway...YES! I HAD MADE IT! I RODE A BIKE! I...rode right into the side of the garage and fell. However, Daddy took pity on me and let me go. He probably would have, anyway, but I didn't know that. It was a proud moment for me, folks. I had achieved two dreams that day.
...Never mind that the counselors let us stay outside for about an hour and then announced that the weatherman had forecast rain and we had to go inside and sleep on a crummy basement floor. I never realized until later that that had been a big fat LIE. The fact that they pulled the same line the next year may have alerted me. But I learned to ride and eventually got a coveted pink bike with streamers AND a flowered banana seat.
Final note: My sisters learned to ride using a neighbor's teeny weeny, barely-six-inches-off-the-ground bike. Each of them raced around like Lance Friggin' Armstrong in an afternoon.
Oh, I like to think that summer of '83 was just a starting point for me, a stepping stone, if you will, in life. Truly, all obstacles since then have simply been one death Huffy to overcome in order to attain that symbolic sleep-over....