You may remember my tooth. The Tooth Fairy's return on simple baby teeth amounts to a small cash value, but when you have a jacked up permanent tooth wrenched from your tender gums she is a bit more generous. After that ordeal, the Tooth Fairy left me a bike. And while she usually absconds with your little molars in the middle of the night, she let me keep my giant tooth. Either she was too repulsed by it, or she knew it would make an interesting conversation piece when I was older--her intentions are still not clear to me.
Anyway, back to the bike. This bike was a lovely lavender ten-speed with the kind of paint that glittered in the sun. I know this because it never left the light of day. Or, in other words, I failed to ever put this bike away. I rode it all over the neighborhood, even the town, but when it came time to go in for the evening I left it sitting out in front of the garage. I mean, you know how much of a bother it can be to walk those few extra steps. So all summer my bike weathered every storm that passed through. At the time, I actually saw this as a benefit because I never had to wash the thing. But when fall rolled around, and eventually winter, the bike was still outside, propped against the side of the garage. I'm a bit surprised that my parents didn't just put the bike in the garage themselves, but then I guess I wouldn't have this opportunity to reflect on the importance of having responsibility and taking care of your things.
By the time it was bike riding season again, this bike was a wreck. It was entirely rusted (a year's worth of precipitation will do that), and not fit to be ridden by any self-respecting eleven year-old. It wasn't just the appearance that was bad. The rust made the gears impossible to change, and the chain was now emitting an unpleasant sound. The worst part of all this was that I knew my parents were not going to get me another bike. This bike was barely a year old, but looked, in its current condition, as if it had been around for forty--and I had no one to blame but myself. I didn't even bother broaching this subject with my parents because I knew it could only result in a lecture about why you should take care of your things. So, I began plotting instead.
My mom was always telling my sister and me not to leave our bikes lying at the end of the driveway. Since she parked her car in the driveway, she couldn't always see a bike if it was on its side, and she was afraid that she might accidentally run one over. Can you guess where my train of thought was headed? Maybe if I "accidentally" left this rusted heap behind my mom's car, the thing that she had been warning us about for years might actually happen. Maybe. I wasn't sure if this would work, but I felt I had no choice but to try.
It only took about a week before my mom, while backing out of the driveway on her way to the grocery store, hit the bike with a satisfying crunch. She immediately put the car in park and flew to the back of her car to see the damage. Perhaps if it hadn't been so rusty, it might have survived, but it was rendered useless. And, of course, my mom felt terrible about it, despite the fact that I "should have known better than to leave it there." Within a week I had a brand-new dark purple mountain bike with fluorescent orange accents.
I would be lying if I said I rode this new bike without feeling a twinge of guilt. But I would also be lying if I said I didn't feel a small bit of triumph at having pulled off this scheme without a hitch. This mountain bike ended up being the last bike of my childhood, and I think I redeemed myself by taking excellent care of it and making it last. But, I think the Tooth Fairy is still holding a grudge because I never did hear from her again.