Spring had clearly arrived. The sun was warm and inviting, and the old homestead park beckoned alluringly with it’s many ancient stands of trees and wide open spaces. The natives were restless at home, with the youngest three alleging that they were near death from boredom, and Tommy itching to “Go Ride? Bike! BIIIIIKE!!!” On a Sabbath afternoon such as this, who WOULDN’T want to go out for a playful jaunt with the family? So it was that we found ourselves rubbing shoulders with God’s glorious nature on a day that was destined to be memorable.
Transportation came in the form of our BUV (Big Ugly Van) because of the numerous participants and the fact that we wanted to bring Tommy’s (almost) adult sized tricycle so that he could ride around on the numerous roads and paths in the park. Some concern about the fact that we had not fueled up earlier because BUV was riding the “Big E” was soon averted when I managed to find about 4 cups of petrol at home. “That ought to do it just fine.” I reassured my wife, with as much confident a paranoia as I could muster. (I didn’t want to put up with Tommy’s protestations about going without that ‘bike’)
The park was very nice indeed. Na and I played with a basketball as we walked. The dogs enthusiastically and quite vocally enjoyed the new sights and smells. Leonie and the rest of us got plenty of exertion when Tommy discovered that he WAS actually able to haul ‘gluteus maximus’ on his tricycle! This discovered as he moved from one new bathroom block to another in a relentless quest to find one that was not padlocked this fine off season. (Normally, Mr. Snail just keeps us at a brisk walk as he starts and stops randomly to look at something or other… or nothing).
Later, Mai Ying and I were separated from the rest of the group as she decided it would be fun to gather a collection of photos of herself posing in front of and FROM numerous strangely shaped trees. She’s quite a fan of pictures now that she has her own digital camera. I have to say this was probably the most meaningful and enjoyable personal time we’ve spent together that I can remember. For a while, she forgot she was auditioning for the title of “Most withdrawn, idiosyncratic, and egocentric teenage rookie of the year.” Miraculously, so did I… For my part, for a time I forgot that I was the “Somber guardian appointed by law to instantaneously undo a lifetime of underprivilege and replace it with a well adjusted & productive society member.” And miraculously, so did Mai Ying. I might be reading too much into it, but perhaps it was even a turning point.
So all told, a great time at the park was had by all. On the way home, however, Na, in his trademark fashion, asked, “So, are we just gonna go STRAIGHT HOME now?” The implication being, of course, that that’s where death from boredom lurks unchecked. (Gah! We can’t win for losing.) I flippantly responded that yes, this was the plan. “Unless, of course, something else dramatic or unexpected happens.” He didn’t get it.
Prophetically, not one mile down the road from the utterance of the above comment… we ran OUT OF GAS and drifted to the shoulder under some shady trees. Only the sun was setting, so there wasn’t exactly need for shade. I enjoyed a good inner laugh at the irony of our predicament whilst also kicking myself in disgust. It was going to be a long walk home.
Then Leonie, in what appeared to be an entirely honest attempt to be helpful (at first blush, anyway) piped up with one of the most ludicrously ridiculous suggestions I’ve ever heard. “YOU could ride Tommy’s trike home and bring more gas, honey.” I was incredulous. “Would that actually be better than jogging?!” “Oh YES, absolutely!” she reassured me. … Uh huh. Like I would fall for that!
The rest is somewhat of a blur. I DO recall breaking world land speed records for a Tricycle… for that particular 1.7 mile stretch of Belmont Avenue. It was the discovery of an amazing new way to meet people, as cars full of curious and encouraging onlookers pointed, waved, honked, and laughed as they passed by. I swear I saw some of the same cars go by more than once, each time seemingly with more people in them than the last. Oh, the celebrity of it all! For my part, I made sure they didn’t come to the conclusion that I was a low watt bulb by smiling and waving back to them! And after the first couple of times of taking one hand off of the handlebars to wave, I didn’t even run clear off the road.
Just to give you an idea of how much fun I was having: About half way along this homeward journey, I passed a house of acquaintances. They were even outside and stopped what they were doing to gawk in my general direction as I blazed past. I could have stopped and asked for a ride for the remaining 1 mile home, but at the time I was busy keeping my head down and being fascinated by whatever happened to be on the other side of the road from their house! *
To make a long story short, I reached my destination and was able to return with gas before Na succumbed to a sudden ravenous and unquenchable thirst. And while my fondest memory of the day was of spending some real and meaningful quality time with my precious youngest girl, Leonie’s is of another: That of Hubby in hasty retreat from the setting sun, pumping furiously and courageously down the country road on a tricycle too small for him. With head a-bobbing, wheels a-weaving, piggy legs a-churning, and knees a-smacking his armpits so hard that they left bruises! Go figure… I KNEW men and women were different from each other.
(*You can stop snickering now, dear reader. Bloggers have feelings too, y’know?*)