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Brand New and Shiny

I wanted a bike.
Nothing fancy, just a quicker way of getting around. Of course all my friends had one, surely that was another reason.

It probably came from Sears, ordered from the catalog store downtown off one of the muddy unpaved streets. I'm being generous calling it a store, it was more like a kiosk; six or seven catalogs lay sprawled open in the tight gloom.
In Kodiak, for those of us who couldn't afford to fly to Anchorage to shop, everything from shoes to jeans to dresses came from the Sears catalog. In the hierarchy of mail order, Montgomery Ward was the bottom, Sears and JC Penney held the middle ground, and Spiegel was the bomb diggity top. First day of school, many of us were wearing the same clothes - plucked from the same catalog.

The bike came in a large carton, unassembled. Hot pink and silver, she was quite the looker.

My father, who was not known for his mechanical abilities spent a few hours assembling the bike. I can't say for sure how long, because antsy with anticipation, I left the house. It can be reasonably assumed it went something like this:
Everything came out of the box. Hopes were high, buoyed by the words "easy assembly".
My mother, always the navigator of difficult journeys, would have read the instructions to my father.
He would have paid no attention.
Eventually, my mother would say "Do it yourself then," and leave.
There would be swearing.
My father would sacrifice a piece of flesh. Or two.

But then, at last - my bike!
the front fender was on backwards, long part in the front.

I pointed this out to my dad.
"That's the way it came out of the box." He was not one to admit mistakes.

I thought I could get a neighbor or friend's dad to undo the bolts and I'd flip the fender. But to my dismay, the bolts were on so tight it was like they were welded on.

The fender stayed on backwards.

You could always tell it was me - I was the one with the mud spattered pants.


  1. I love the detail in your stories from long ago.

  2. Thanks Odie. Are you back from the VA hospital?

  3. Wow. The love and gratitude and disappointment and and.... You are brilliant.