Monday, April 14, 2008

My Dark Past: The Dark Secret

Okay, so I found this story I wrote a few years back. It's great, in my humble opinion. The only problem is that the assignment was to write a personal narrative, not a blog post, and it is really too long and boring (yes, you might not think so if I let you read the whole thing, but for a blog, or for my blog, it was, I concluded. If you want the whole thing, I have that too). So I have shortened it considerably. The beginning I left the same, and I squeezed up the middle and end.
Hope you like it. I know it looks long, but it's really not such a bad read.

My Dark Past: The Dark Secret
I was about 13 years old, and I had a dark secret. I was not like most boys my age. I was deformed, handicapped, maimed. It was embarrassing and humiliating. I would make up excuses so I would not have to reveal my secret. Even while I am writing this, my face gets hot, and my cheeks blush in shame. I remember so vividly the fact that I did not know how to ride a bike.
Oh, yes, my father had tried to teach my brother and me how to ride a bike, when we were about six or seven. He would take us on Sundays to the empty parking lot at the public elementary school down the street. He would push my bike along for a few seconds, then let go, at which point I was supposed to ride on my own, "using my balance".
I am not quite sure why, but for the life of me, I couldn't "use my balance". I was sure that it was not my problem, and maybe my parents were the ones to blame. It might have been because I was a twin, or perhaps because I was short; to this day I will never know.
Sunday after Sunday, I made no visible progress. I could get on the bike by myself, and pedal a few feet before I would panic and my bike would topple over sideways onto the hot, black pavement. I saw that it would be futile to make any further attempts, so I stopped trying. For about six years, I had to live with my terrible secret, and hope that my inability to ride a bike would not show through in my schoolwork, my athletic abilities, or in my social skills.
After I turned 13, which in Judaism means that I was a man, I decided that it was time I rode a bike. My brother had started to ride a bike fairly easily, but I wasn't at all confident that it would be a "piece of cake". Perhaps my new bike gave me confidence I didn't have with my old bike, which I always thought was "too childish" anyway, with the bright orange and yellow flames on the black frame. Whatever the reason, I walked my bike up my driveway onto the sunny street. Perfect riding conditions, I assumed, when I licked my finger and held it up in the wind, like all professional cyclists.
I hopped onto my bike, and pedaled down the street; it was as easy as riding a bike. I started out riding up and down the few flat blocks on my street, H. Street, and up and down my driveway, which was pretty steep. I could not believe that I had not been able to do this when I was seven. I guess the skills needed lay dormant inside me for those six odd years, until the time came to unleash my riding abilities onto the world like a crashing, thunderous wave of power.
(The Shortened Middle Part-)
My brother and I would race each other around the big hill which was a semi-circle that looped around our street. One of us would then speed down the hill very fast, while the other would race him and try to keep up. The one in front would choose which street to veer off onto, and ride into various parts of our neighborhood. The other brother would try following like a lost puppy after its mother.
I remember the accident vividly. My brother was racing down the street at break-neck speeds. I tried following as best I could. When my brother was about to break the sound barrier, he turned right sharply onto a street at the very bottom of the hill. A little too late, I realized that he turned; nevertheless I tried to follow.
My turn was very sharp, yet I didn't make it. I actually was going to hit the curb head on, almost perpendicular to it. The curb of the sidewalk rose to meet me. The rusted, metal grill that covered a sewer six feet below was a red monster trying to destroy me and bury me six feet under! Thoughts of how I might possibly avoid breaking seventy bones were dancing around in my head. Maybe if I lift up my handlebars, and have my front tire clear the curb altogether. . . Or maybe I should try jumping off the bike. . . I lost all my confidence, though, and a great fear finally took hold of me. I was very nervous for my safety, and I was screaming my head off as I sped smack into the metal grill on the curb.
The bike hit the metal grill and the back wheel flipped up over the front wheel. My body was still traveling at supersonic speeds, yet my bike had slowed to a halt. My chest struck the handlebars with as much force as an 18-wheeler truck hitting a fence. I was thrown off the bike, upside-down and feet first, onto the hard sidewalk. My left arm collided with the left handlebar, as the bike flipped over and fell onto my sprawled out body.
The wheels on my bike had stopped spinning, but my head was still doing circles as I lay on the ground, trying to untangle myself from my bike and the rest of my limbs. "Wear your helmet! No, I don't care if it's purple!" my mother had told me earlier. She was very concerned for my safety, and did not care what I had to say about it. It hadn't saved me from some shame and embarrassment, but it had saved me from very likely head injuries on this day. The helmet was not badly harmed after the accident, and so even now, I still have that purple helmet.
"Are you okay?" my brother asked anxiously as he came back towards me. He, along with anyone in a ten-mile radius, heard me yelling and knew something was wrong.
I was okay, baruch hashem, but my bike was pretty banged up. I walked slowly home, with my arm stinging, and my bike making loud complaints as the wheel scraped against the frame.
When I got home, my brother put my bike away, and I nursed my wounds and ego. I told my parents all about my accident. I usually tend to make things more dramatic than they really are, but my parents were only glad that I was okay, and were not too concerned about the bike, or my inability to ride it.
I thought abut giving up riding a bike. Maybe I was never meant to learn how to ride a bike. I was miserable those next few days. My father had my bike taken to a store, where they would assess its state.
"How did you say this happened?" the man at the small repair shop asked my dad. My father, trying not to inhale the grease fumes that filled the air, told the balding man what happened. The repairman scratched the few remaining hairs on his head, and asked incredulously, "Are you sure? That bike must have hit a dumpster, or a moving car, to cause this kind'a dent in the wheel." My dad must not have liked hearing that, and I'm sure he thought I lied about the accident, to avoid his wrath. Later, I explained to him that what I said was the truth. It turned out that the repairman could fix it for a small cost, and I got my bike back a few days later.
When I had my bike safely returned to the basement, I was still afraid to ride it.
Finally, I decided to face my fear. I had come too far to just let one little, near-death experience stop me from riding a bike. I strapped on my (purple) helmet and tamed the wild monster. I knew better than to race fast down big hills until I gained more experience. I did ride carefully around the neighborhood, and my confidence returned to me. After an hour of riding, I slowly pulled my bike into the basement, and took off my helmet. I rubbed my hand through my sweaty hair; I felt great. From then on, I put my safety first, and thought about the consequences of dangerous maneuvers that could bring on riding disasters. Now I was like any normal boy, and I was glad to rid myself of that dark, hidden secret. With my newfound friend, my trusty bike, I rode off into the sunset, so to speak.
Oh, and I still try to avoid curbs whenever I can.
The End

Okay, that was shortened a tad to help with the boredom. I didn't change anything, really, except cut out sentences. So as not to make this longer, I'll leave my analysis for the next post.