Deep in my heart, I knew that the day would come. I feared it. I dreaded it. I knew, of course, that she wouldn't be my little baby forever, but I hadn’t meant for it to be like this. Any parent wants their child to be prepared for emergencies and unexpected situations, and we all do our best to give them the tools they need to cope when they find themselves all alone out in this cruel, harsh world. I had shown her, once, I believe, how to fix a flat, but we most certainly hadn't yet reached the stage where she was solo patching (under my watchful eye, of course). I’m sure you understand, then, that my heart leapt into my throat upon hearing the gut-wrenching words “Dad, I got a flat ...”.*
Live Acorn: Dad, I got a flat ...
Dead Acorn: OH MY GOD OH MY GOD WHERE ARE YOU? ARE YOU OKAY? WHERE ARE YOU? I’LL BE RIGHT THERE! DON’T WORRY!
LA: Dad ... dad ...
DA: I’M COMING FOR YOU BABY! DADDY’S COMING FOR YOU!
LA (under her breath): Jesus H. Christ.
DA: I’m sorry, what?
LA: Umm, nothing. Dad, it’s okay, I patched it.
DA: You ... you ... you what?
LA: Yeah. I’m down in Hyde Park, and I bought a patch kit at the bike shop.
DA (slowing down on the hyperventilating a bit): oh ... okay ... how’d you get the tire off?
LA: Well, I didn’t have any of those plastic thingies, so I used a screwdriver.
(DA goes back in full hyperventilation mode)
LA: Easy there, dad ... I was really careful not to pinch the tube.
(DA’s respiration rate slows back down under 200)
LA: I listened for the leak, but couldn’t find it, so I took it into the pub restroom, filled the sink with water, and found it.
DA (to himself): yeah ... YEAH!
LA: I marked it with a sharpie, sanded the spot around it, and put the glue on.
DA (covering the phone and shouting at work): OH YEAH!
LA: After it dried, I put the patch on, put the tire back on, pumped it up, and put the wheel back on.
(long pause before DA speaks)
DA: Was it ... was it ... the front or the back?
At this point, sweat was pouring down my face, and I was shaking with anticipation. I guess I assumed it was the front, as wrestling with the rear derailleur can be frustrating even for the most grizzled veteran.
LA: It was ... the back.
DA: OH HELLZ YEAH! That's MY girl!
(strutting around the office, doing that "raise the roof" thingy in that lily-white way that he does those things)
Whose daughter? MY daughter!
DA’s boss: What in the fucking name of Elmore J. Goodwin is going on in here? Are you drunk again?
So she did this old bike mechanic’s soul some good and filled his heart with pride. And I guess I learned a little something, too, about realizing that kids are a lot more independent and self-sufficient than you think. It’s bittersweet, to be sure, realizing that she's growing up so fast, but way less bitter than sweet.
Wait, who the fuck am I? Aesop, telling one of his goddamned Fables? Crap on a coaster, Dead Acorn, it doesn’t always have to have some moral, or a lesson, or some cheezy-ass ending.
Next week, we’re building wheels; after that comes cold-setting steel frames and overhauling old-school freewheels.
[UPDATE] I forgot to mention that the guy in the bike shop told her it was still a little low, so he pumped it up some more. Shortly thereafter, the sidewall blew out from overinflation. I swear ... other people's kids, you know?
* If an ellipsis is the last thing inside quotation marks, and is at the end of a sentence, do I put a period there? Normally, the period would go inside the quotation marks**, but then it would just be a four-period ellipsis, which is the elliptical*** bastard second cousin of multiple exclamation points. A little help here from my more pedantically inclined readers, please.
** I think.
*** I don't think "elliptical" is the adjective form**** of "ellipsis" ... is it "ellipsistical"?
**** Does "adjective" have an adjectivical form?