My First Chopper

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a childhood memory about friends, bikes and stars.

Submitted: July 17, 2016

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Submitted: July 17, 2016



In the fall of 1979 I was 12 years old, I had a girlfriend who taught me how to kiss, a shiny red Epiphone archtop electric bass guitar, a love for Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, a Team Murray BMX and a best friend named Richie.

My dad in those days was a church deacon and was part of a men’s bible study that would meet at a different member’s house on Thursday evenings. Every three to four weeks it would be held at Richie’s house. On these nights my dad would take me along.

Richie and I had a special relationship. He’d teach me what he knew about cars and I’d tell him lies about my knowledge of girls. We had a lot of fun building models, sneaking cigarettes, working on his junkyard Ranchero and riding bikes. On one of these nights, after scrubbing a set of chrome side pipes in his driveway (for no apparent reason), we decided it would be a great idea to put a set of suspension shackles on the front of an old bike I borrowed from my sister. So Richie and I put our heads together and engineered a make-shift chopper right there in his garage…...I saw stars that night.

The stars were out in full when I took off down Richie’s dirt driveway. I got my new chopper up to speed and tried to pull wheelies but the front end was too heavy now. I didn’t care though. I got to the end of that pitch black driveway with late October sweat on my brow and a smug 12 year old’s grin on my face. I could see Richie’s profile in the garage light, jumping up and down yelling “Hurry up! I wanna try!”, him and his older brother Bub giggling and laughing.

The rake (angle of the forks) on that bike was so huge that I had to go out to the street to turn the bike around. After getting my new chopper turned around I started heading back in triumph. I wanted to pull a wheelie so bad that I kept trying. I remember watching my friends in the distant light cheering me on and then…...nothing.

They were gone. The light was gone. The garage was gone. I was gone, it seemed. Then I felt pain and confusion. I saw stars again and heard interrupted bursts of laughter. I was in the dirt face down and at least five feet in front of my former chopper. My first thought was “Did I just fall into a pothole?” and then “How do I get out of this looking cool?” Hey, I was 12.

As you probably figured it out, the shackles folded in as I was diligently trying to pull wheelies, catapulting me into Ballard driveway folklore. I’d like to say that Richie and I learned something from this, and we did, just not the part where we wouldn’t do stupid things together again. Hence “The two six-packs of beer on the church bus debacle”. But that’s another story for another time.

© Copyright 2018 R.Guy Barringer. All rights reserved.

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