Don’t let the frilly box fool you. Inside lurks a mocking demon wrapped in plastic, covered with cardboard just waiting to be assembled. And like the sirens of yore who lured gullible sailors to their deaths with their sweet song, those pretty Disney princesses — Belle, Snow White, Cinderella and Tiana — may look like they’re all smiles and good times, but they’re really a frustrating nightmare of confusing directions, stripped bolts and enough Daddy-hurled curse words that Sheriff Buford T. Justice would blush.
But I promised Jellybean a bike, and a bike she was going to have.
It’s been something of a long-standing dream of mine, ever since I first saw her winking up at me from that grainy sonogram photo (and hence nicknamed her Jellybean), to teach her how to ride a bike. I was also looking forward to the day she’d be old enough that we could read Shel Silverstein books before bed, play Tom Waits songs as lullabies and eventually take her to her first KISS concert … and yes, they’ll still be touring, spitting fire and gyrating to “Love Gun” no matter how silly it might sound, because pyro makes everything look cool.
I remember teaching The Diva to ride a bike. It was probably the first moment that I actually felt like a parent and it’s one of my most treasured photos — that and the one of her trying to look all tough with her first skinned-knee. We went out to a parking lot — me, The Diva, My Lovely Wife and her sister — and pushed The Diva around. It was freezing and she squealed like her bangs were on fire, but it’s one of the most ingrained memories of my marriage and my young family.
Sadly, the lessons didn’t really take — not because The Diva didn’t enjoy riding her bike, but rather because we lived at the top of a hill so steep that coasting down it would’ve given Tony Hawk goose bumps. By the time we moved to Columbus, The Diva was way too cool to ride a bike … and too tall.
I don’t expect to recreate that. Mainly because Jellybean will be working off training wheels and I won’t secretly be rooting for her to pull a face-plant and make herself ugly so that little boys will stop paying attention to her. That’ll come in time.
What I do want to recapture is that joy I felt riding my own bike. I had a Mongoose, and it was rad. I couldn’t do any tricks — save for popping the occasional wheelie that usually ended with my butt on the pavement.
It was the Mongoose that used to get me to Putt-Putt for the All-Day Saturday Fun Day special, where after spending a king’s ransom in tokens I’d finally have enough Skee-Ball tickets to make off with that sweet, gold screaming eagle necklace. And it was the Mongoose that used to take me riding by Missy James’ house … in that John Cusack with a boom box, “Say Anything” way, not creepy boy on a bike, Lifetime movie kind of way.
The princess bike will give me the chance to chase after memories with Jellybean, the way I did with her sister. It’s what dads do, assuming I can put the freakin’ thing together.
Let the cussin’ begin.
Contact Brett Buckner at firstname.lastname@example.org.