My birthday came and went a few weeks ago, quietly and with little fanfare as birthdays should be once you have fallen headlong into your twilight years. And, the older I get the more I appreciate the value of quiet contemplation during our annual naked day celebrations over the failure to recall, the morning after, much of what happened or who it happened with.
This year, on the other hand, I found myself having been given an opportunity to embark on a rather tricky tricycle caper that would lead me to play private investigator and amateur cop.
To properly set this story up, and before we go too far, I refer you back to a story I wrote not long after I started this website about a random stranger I met while out riding a bicycle I really didn’t have any business riding for health and safety reasons. I explained that, with my particular set of challenges, a two-wheeled bicycle is a terrible idea. I bought it anyway and discovered almost immediately why wiser wisdom should be heeded.
And despite what you have heard… you really can forget how to ride one under the right set of circumstances.
And so it was that my brother and his lovely bride decided it was time to set me up with a red adult tricycle… complete with the bonnie wire basket typically found on such devices and used to carry groceries or supplies. They hoped, as did I, that my chances of being splattered whilst weaving in and out of City traffic would be greatly reduced by outfitting me with a means of transportation that would provide me better balance and stability and improve my chances of staying in one piece.
To many, the image of a pudgy old guy tooling around on a tricycle might elicit uncontrollable laughter, but all I felt when I first sat on it and pedaled 50 yards up the sidewalk was the exhilaration a fat kid feels when he’s made off with the rest of his Big Brother’s Easter candy.
I was giggling… and noticed, almost right away, that the only thing missing was one of those little bells you ring on your handlebars and decided it would be the very first thing I needed to acquire.
My brother said as much when I pedaled myself back to the house.
Over the next several days I took it out for a joyride up and down a few side streets, around the park a couple of times, and even up to the local convenience store once or twice. It was wonderful; there is a noticeable difference between having to stay upright by pedaling faster and just sitting on your butt rolling down the road and just enjoying the ride.
I quickly realized how much more relaxed I was while riding than I had been on the mountain bike even though I really enjoy riding that as well.
The only real downside to a tricycle for grown-ups is that it is bulky and heavy and difficult to carry up and down stairs. I live on a busy street and, although it is a fairly safe neighborhood, it’s generally poor practice to leave your bicycle out in the yard unattended for extended periods of time. As such, I was forced to put it up on my porch and wrap a plastic coated steel combination bicycle lock around it and one of the posts that hold up the porch roof.
It’s not a bad scenario for a normal person but presents a number of challenges for people like me who really shouldn’t be carrying such things up and down stairs.
On Wednesday of the first week that I had the as yet unnamed tricycle, my oldest grandson came to visit and drop off one of my daughter’s famous naughty treats… some frosted gluten-free banana nut thing (which was gloriously delicious by the way)… and left about 20 minutes later. Unbeknownst to me at the time, he had gone outside to leave and discovered that his bicycle had been stolen from my front yard where it had been sitting – literally – 6 feet away from the tricycle that was tethered to the post up on my porch.
He ran home and gathered up his mother and sister and they drove around the neighborhood looking for his bicycle.
It was my granddaughter who saw it first… just inside an open garage door… around the corner about a block away from my house, in the other direction.
I knew about none of this until much later in the day but, as the story goes, my grandson – 6 months shy of his black belt – jumped out of the car and approached the punk ass teenagers, demanding that they return his bicycle.
A few words were exchanged… the thieves insisting it was an honest mistake and that they thought it was their friend’s bicycle – and gave the bike back without further incident.
I call bullshit.
Two days later, my new tricycle… tucked under some low-hanging branches and tethered to a chain link fence all the way up in my backyard and as far away from the road as it could be… was stolen. This time the little bastards had cut through the steel cable (which means they had to have had some type of bolt cutter or incredibly heavy duty wire cutters).[hand raised] Who the fuck steals an old guy’s tricycle?
The police were called and – like we had just done two days prior – a ride was taken around the neighborhood that let us back to the now-infamous garage door of stolen bicycle fame. The door was closed of course, and there were no signs of life naturally, but we know they were watching us through a blind and a slightly opened curtain.
In part two I will take you through what happened next.