Every bike I’ve owned has been stolen, ripped off, taken, taken by aliens, gone baby gone, last seen, missing, gone walkabout . . . Whatever the case, having a bike stolen is truly crappy. And if you’re like me, my bike, at various times in my life, was my only mode of transportation. Well, besides my feet, the bus, and taxis. But you know what I’m saying.
It all started in Grade 5 when a young Eilidh (me) got a brand new ten-speed bike with a fancy brand name for my birthday in March. Itching to ride my spanking new, grown-up bike, I waited patiently for the sun to start to warm the earth, stirring up memories of spring. Finally, the snow receded off the streets, revealing dark asphalt forgotten over a long winter and tulips peaked through the moist soil. Finally, I could take my bike, fire engine red with sunflower yellow plastic basket on the handlebars where I carried my lock and Nancy Drew books, for a ride around the neighbourhood, loving the wind in my hair and feeling strong and capable riding a big girl bike.
Fast forward to May-school bike trip to the local pool. All us kids stood around the bike rack, admiring baskets, handlebar tassels, straws on spokes, bells, and stickers. Ah, how we loved the stickers. We stuck stickers to anything that would have them, which was pretty much everything. Star Wars stickers. Grease stickers. Awesome. But the seriously best ones were the Wacky Package stickers of mock products such as “LipTorn Molten Lava Soup” and Band-Ache Brands – Strips Skin off.” Simply hilarious, but that’s another blog and it will be!
Anyway, we all saddled up on our bikes for our short ride to the local public pool. It was a different time in the 70s. A time when kids didn’t wear helmets. A time when a teacher (Mr.Dunn) on his rickety bike could lead a pack of kids like ducklings through the streets of the city, navigating traffic, ignoring stop signs, and blowing the whistle that dangled around his neck at those kids doing wheelies and sticking their feet in the spokes of nearby bikes.
Miraculously, we arrived unscathed at the pool. We lock our bikes to the chain-link fence and then lose our ever-loving minds racing for the pool, whistle screeching behind us. It was times like this, it truly didn’t matter what you were–nerdy, ugly, gross, fat, creepy, pretty, normal, foreign, weird, poor, scrawny, smelly. For once, we were all united for the same cause: to dive into the over-chlorinated pool after a long winter and swim and frolic like our lives depended on it.
Finally, it was time to go and time to learn a hard life lesson. Fifteen bikes went to the fence. Twelve came out. Thieves took the rest. Our cheap chain locks with that clear-ish plastic coating cut clean through dangled like dead snakes from the equally cheap fence. I recall thinking that I’d left my Nancy Drew book in the basket, which seemed to divert my sadness to something less big; something less devastating. On the long, sad walk home, my classmates and I worried what our parents would think. Would they think we were careless. Would they think that we don’t deserve nice things like fancy bikes and hardcover books. Maybe we don’t. Maybe we will never deserve those nice things that fill our lives with pleasure, we thought.