Time for Theme Thursday once again. Where does the time go? Does it fly out the window? Is it flushed down the drain? Does it go round in circles does it fly high like a bird up in the sky? Oops sorry I was channeling Billy Preston. Time does fly though and I find myself once again on the eve of the deadline wondering what the hell to write. It is 9:44 p.m. and my bedtime is somewhere around 9. I am sitting in front of my trusty Big Bertha with my hands on the keys and this story pops into my mind. So hang on while I pedal my way through this week’s theme of Bicycle.
It was the late as Gladys drug the big box marked Scwhinn from the garage. She removed the directions and the thousand and one pieces from the box. She sat in the floor with her trusty wrench and read through the directions. She took a big gulp of the Eggnog she had just spiked and said “I can do this. Trooper Bob taught me that all it takes it just getting in there and doing it.”
It was Christmas Eve and Tadpole wanted a bicycle for Christmas. Gladys was determined that her six year old would have her wish. Gladys, even though she was married, was a single parent. She had been a single parent from the day that Tadpole and finally decided to make her appearance. Gladys was married to a Marine back in those days and he was gone more than he was home. He was once again away on a mission, missing yet another Christmas with his family. Gladys didn’t mind because she knew what he was doing was important. She could do this. She was after all Nurse Meme’s daughter who knew how to wield a hammer and turn a screw. She was after all Trooper Bob’s helper. He taught her “righty tightie and lefty loosey”. So she sat down with those directions and began piecing together the purple and white Gremlin Schwinn.
She tightened the nuts on the pedals and slid the seat into place. She double checked the kickstand making sure the bike would lean to the side and rest without crashing to the ground. She turned and looked at the clock, 4:45 she had about an hour before her little daughter would wake her. She parked the bike in front of the blinking lights of the tree and crawled into bed.
It felt as if she had just slid between the sheets when she heard Tadpole hollering “Santa CAME! Mommy Santa came!” Gladys opened one eye and saw the first illumination of morning. She pulled herself up in the bed and shook the cobwebs from her head “what? Who? What?” Tadpole grabbed her hand and started pulling her “MAWWWM! Santa came! Come on!” Tadpole cried. Gladys slid her feet into her slippers, pulled on her robe and shuffled sleepily behind her excited daughter. “Oh, Mawme! Lookie. Santa brought me a bike! Can I ride it? Can I ride it right now? Look a Barbie! Look at all this stuff Mawme!” Gladys’ heart warmed watching her little girl running around the Christmas tree looking at all the stuff under the tree. “Oh Mawmee! Santa brought you sumin. Look how pretty!” Tadpole cried as she handed her mother a little white box with a sly smile.
The wrappers had been unwrapped, the boxes unboxed and the ribbons untied. “Mawme can I ride my bicycle? Can I take it outside and ride my bike? I’ll ride it in the alley and I’ll be really careful, please?” Gladys looked out at the grey cold Christmas day and said “bundle up. I’ll go out with you, just let me get a cup of coffee and my jacket.” That was all it took. Tadpole bolted out of the door, bike in hand. She had grabbed her purple snow jacket and put it over her flannel pajamas. She stuck her beanie on her head and pulled her brand new mittens on her hands. “Come on hurry!”
Gladys pulled on her sweat pants, stuffed her flannel nightgown in the top and pulled on her sweatshirt. Grabbing coffee and coat she followed her over excited daughter out the back door and watched as she walked the bike to the alley. Tadpole mounted the bike and waved to her mother. Gladys looked around the housing project and saw many other military wives doing the same as she. She saw her neighbor Edna pulling her little boy in a brand new red wagon. Down the alley was Lucy urging a toddler to try and pedal his tricycle instead of walking it and on the other end of the block was Della, with all five of her kids out running around like wild banshees.
Gladys turned just in time to catch her Tadpole make her first pass on her brand new bike. She watched as she pedaled fast to the far end of the alley turned her bike and headed at breakneck speed back toward home. Gladys watched with pride as her child rode without training wheels, something the other kids had not yet mastered. She beamed as her beautifully graceful child glided down the little lane with a big grin. Then just as she came even with the trash cans something went terribly amiss. Tadpole turned her handlebars to the right but her tire went to the left. She tried hard to correct and yanked up on the steering mechanism. That was when Gladys realized that Tadpole could not steer her bike. She could not steer because the handle bars where in Tadpoles hands and not attached to the bike. Gladys jumped and started running toward her child. She watched helpless as Tadpole turned confused and frightened holding the handlebars in her hands unattached from the rest of the bike. Then as if in slow motion Gladys watched as Tadpole took out the whole line of garbage receptacles. It was like watching Bowling for Dollars. Was it a strike or a 7-10 split? Would she make the shot or fault out?
Then it was over. Tadpole lie on the ground too confused to cry. Gladys’ neighbor, Fred, made it to the scene first and declared “Strike!” Gladys looked at the carnage of colorful foil paper and ribbons and then at her lovely little lady child. It was then and there that she understood; assemble toys first, eggnog second.