Thursday, February 24, 2011
The One Where I Change My Mind And Debate the Benefits of Lying
When I was in kindergarten one of my brother's friends rode his ten speed bike over to our house.
It was yellow and big and exciting and the porch light lit up what looked to be millions of sparkly chrome spokes in my 6-year-old eyes.
I asked my brother's friend to take me for a ride on it.
No way, was his answer.
I asked my brother to take me.
Again, no way.
They were less afraid of me getting hurt and more afraid of what my dad would do to them if I got hurt.
But it occurred to me that if I asked my dad he would take me for a ride. There was little I asked from him that I didn't get. So I knew it was a matter of time before that 10-speed and I would be gliding down Poplar Street together.
My dad sat behind me, holding onto me with one hand and steering with the other as he pedaled. I remember feeling excited. It was nighttime in the summer, and it felt free and adventurous.
It was about that time that the light from the street lamp made those sparkly chrome spokes look irresistible, a twinkling carousel of enchantment, and I stuck my foot straight through those shiny spokes.
The bike went back over front. To prevent me from hitting the pavement my dad took the brunt of the impact to his face and head, driving asphalt and a considerable sized rock into his forehead.
Thanks to him, my only injury was a busted lip.
In the emergency room I watched them wheel my dad away on a stretcher with gauze covering his face. He had to have surgery to get the rock removed and a plastic surgeon consulted on the big scar it'd leave behind.
But mostly I remember him having to wear a gauze hairnet for several weeks while his stitches heeled and how hilarious we all thought it was. The gauze hairnet, not the injury.
It was not hilarious, however, when I returned to kindergarten with scratches on my face and a fat lip and the other kids looked at me in horror and I had to drink out of a straw for a week or so while my giant lip healed.
I feel now about him getting hurt the way he must have felt then about me getting hurt.
He and I have always had an agreement - We are a team, thicker n' thieves, and we do what we must to protect my mom from anything we do that might upset her. Which has been plenty over the years.
It's not that my mom is so easily upset. But she is a mom, and a mom's default is to worry. It's not that we want to lie to her, but moms compel you lie to them just by their very being.
We kept it to ourselves all the times he let me "drive" his old truck while I sat on his lap as a kid. And when I got caught sneaking out of the house as a teenager, my dad gave me a good talking to, but to save ourselves from endless haranguing, we kept quiet. Ditto for the myriad transgressions of high school and college. And I never ratted him out for anything either.
Better to just keep that stuff to ourselves. It's our common bond.
So I've never told my mom I have a scooter. Scooters are dangerous and she would worry to death. My mom's been through enough, why put her through that. But my dad knows. Every time we talk about he says, "Don't let your mom find out; she'll nag us both to death... and if you get caught I'm gonna lie and say I had no idea and I can't believe a grown woman as smart as you would do something so dangerous. Hee hee hee!"
He'd throw me under the bus in a heartbeat because when it comes to mom's flying off the handle, it's everybody for themselves. And besides that, he has to live with her.
When I got my new scooter this winter I excitedly told him about it. "It will go 60, as opposed to Stella, which will only go 40. Sooo slow!" I exclaimed.
Excitedly, he wanted to know if he could have my old one, and with some hesitation but still under the glow of getting a new scooter, I promised Stella to him. He enthusiastically talked about it and figured out a plan that he could bring it to Indiana without my mom knowing it was formerly mine.
As the time for him to come get it draws nearer I am more and more worried about him having it.
I mean, scooters are dangerous. I don't want my 70-year-old dad riding around on my old scooter that will go 40. Forty is fast. What if he gets hurt? What if he pulls out in front of a car? What if he breaks a hip, or worse?
For the first time ever, I tried to thwart him. I tried to get my mom on attack. I asked her what she thought of him taking this scooter. He told her it's a friend of mine's and that it won't start. Him being a mechanic, he figured he'd "tinker around with it" and maybe get it started.
"Gina, I wish you hadn't told him about it," my mom said. "Now he's all excited, and the last thing I need is him out racing around on a scooter. I hope he won't be able to get it started."
But of course It will start fine; there's nothing wrong with it. (My poor mom.)
I've been thinking about how to get out of this. If I give my dad that scooter and something happens I'll never forgive myself. Could I cut the breakline? The gasline? Could I break something on it? But he's a mechanic. He'll figure it out and fix it.
I debated telling him it got stolen. But then that totally curses my new scooter to actually get stolen.
I could tell him I sold it, and legitimately sell it. But he's very excited to have it and I don't want to go back on my word. He wants to ride it around the neighborhood... and probably speed! Without a helmet! And do wheelies!
Or something like that.
Yes, I see the irony here. But it's different for me. I mean, I'm safe. I always wear my helmet. I go slow around corners. I'm not 70 years old. And though he's promised to always wear a helmet, this has given me little solace.
I've been asking around for advice - Do I give him the scooter I promised him, or do I not in an effort to protect my sanity, my mom's sanity and his well-being?
One colleague told me to give it to him, he'll be fine. Another told me to just sell it.
I don't know... I hate after all these years to sell him out when he's always had my back, but man, I sure wish I'd have told him it was spoken for already.
I mean, if he crashes the damn thing I'm not gonna be there to help take the hit like he was for me with the 10-speed.
Anybody willing to call my dad and offer to "buy" it from him?
I will give you the money.