Each month, His Evilness sends me a reminder email that my column was due yesterday, and each month I struggle with what the hell I’m going to say. It’s frustrating as I envy those that can hoover down bucketful’s of chocolate and stay svelte, turn their fastest time on their out-lap, and especially those who can sit in front of a computer screen fingers flying to pen a witty, humorous, or sometimes even serious topic at will.
This month it’s humor, as a dinner out with autocrossers meant convos about some funny chit, mostly embellished, possibly factual, and no way in hell could we get away with this stuff today. My contributions were pretty funny such as flogging a Honda three-wheeler like Shoemaker in the Derby, sans helmet and footwear, and sporting a two-piece bathing suit on public roads. (Licata, if you even dare to cartoon this, consider yourself DEAD MEAT!) It was eventual that I blew the thing up and after pushing it a mile or so back home barefoot, I waited until the pater familias was in an extremely good mood before I told him “Uhhh, it just stopped!” Or launching a Yamaha 250 up and over the edge of a hillside with human and cycle landing splashdown in a swimming pool. I swam to the top, the bike did not, and the lady that owned the pool was as mad as a hungry lion being denied an all-you-can-eat gazelle buffet. Parents were called, some serious grounding ensued, and both adventures are certifiably true. Tame, you ask? Yep, when compared to the Big Wheel.
Fast forward a couple of years to a car, me, and three friends, where living in a boring, rustic town only made us want to drive over the hill to the next boring, rustic town to see if their fun was funner than our fun, which it usually was. One night we headed to Compagno’s Market on Prescott Ave. in Monterey, which (and this is important) is a very long and steep thoroughfare. All of us anticipating putting an Olympic quality Hoover on four of the best meatball subs this side of Italy. On the way there’s a stop sign that got stopped at and sacre bleu, there it sat. A kid’s Big Wheel plastic tricycle patiently sitting on the sidewalk, all neglected-like ... and all mine!
I don’t need to tell you what happened next ’cause this should be obvious to any and all, but as I remember it, the words “Hey, watch this!” was backed by maybe one live brain cell. As my friends bet me a Jackson, greed overcame common sense, and out of the car I flew. Giggling, I folded and scrunched my 5’7” frame into something that should see a human a third that size, and once locked and loaded with legs and feet draped over my arms and the handlebars, and with the three others hysterically huffing, puffing, and pushing, down the hill I went. This was fun for about a quarter of a mile, and as I was approaching a major intersection it dawned on that single brain cell that I couldn’t stop!
What started out as random fun quickly changed to what I’d expect riding over Niagara Falls in an inner tube feels like. The pedals were flying like eggbeaters, my ass was bouncing in sync with the rear wheels every time I hit a pebble, and the steering got really wonky ’cause when the front plastic ball bearings melt, the front wheel stops tracking straight and you’re at the mercy of wherever the damn thing chooses to take you. For me, it was Big Wheel Hell of the infinite degree, which mercifully ended when I sideswiped a parked car (or two) and ran up a curb, my plastic chariot motionless on its side with me motionless next to it, both bloodied, scarred, and beaten like a medieval knave, and all of this witnessed by two local cops that were probably more bored than we’d been. Said uniforms suddenly came to life as did a million flashing lights and as did I.
To this day, I’ve got no idea why I didn’t get a ticket, and in case you’re wondering, I didn’t get no messy meatball sub nor the $20 as my (now former) friends said I didn’t ride this now-named Conveyance of Eternal Rest with Hellfire be Damned all the way to the bottom of Prescott, which if you got an A in English class, was Cannery Row (geographically said in Steinbeck’s novel). I got a ride home with my parents (yes, they were involved) and after unceremoniously being dumped in a dumpster, the Big Wheel got a ride to the local landfill. But most key to this story was the car we were all in when this adventure started ... a mostly stock, Root Beer brown with white vinyl top and white interior early second-gen Camaro!