Monday, December 19, 2011

And I Lived ToTell About It

I think it must be a prerequisite of being a child to periodically scare one's parents half to death, along with as many other people as possible. I know my kids were no exception - and neither was I.

For example, when I was six years old, one of my favorite activities was riding a minibike my dad had bought for my brother and me. A red Honda 50 with automatic gears - no clutch for my small hands to struggle to operate. This particular minibike however, had an annoying propensity to kick out of gear of its own volition - usually at the most inconvenient time. Normally, this amounted to little more than aggravation; all it took was a slight bit of pressure from the left foot and the gears were engaged again. I'd ridden the minibike many times, knew the drill and always seem to control the bike - but remember, I was only six years old.

One bright sunny day, my parents and some of their friends were outside watching as my brother and I took turns riding around our "track." The track consisted of a few trails through the trees and hills. One of those hills was rather steep and long - about 25 feet high and close to twice that long. For me, the hill was much more fun to climb than to come down, and I usually didn't. That day, for some reason, I wound up at the top and decided to ride down. Just as I straightened out the handlebars, the minibike did its thing, kicking out of gear, sending me free wheeling down the hill. With nothing to hold it back, my speed quickly increased. At that moment, I had several options; I could brake, put it back in gear, or since it was quite a ways to the street, I could've turned in either direction. I did none of those. Instead, I froze, my hands stuck firmly on the grips, staring and riding straight ahead. Later, I was told that everyone had been shouting instructions, but I heard nothing.

I can only imagine the helpless feeling my parents must have had as they watched me racing toward the busy street - and unable to stop me. As for me, I remember a strange feeling of being along for an unwanted ride to my doom and being powerless to do anything about it. I also remember a blue car going by in front of me as I neared the street. What I didn't see was the old man in the red pickup coming from the other direction. As the minibike hurtled across the road, the driver of the pickup had little time to react. Before he knew what was happening, I was directly in front of him. My parents, along with everyone else, thought I was about to become a greasy spot on the road. But, somehow I made it. The truck missed me by only inches. I shot on across the street, jumped a ditch on the other side, and slammed into a fence, which put an end to my wild ride, rather abruptly.

The driver of the pickup was so shaken; he pulled over to the side of the road and just sat there for a while. Everyone else was plenty excited too - except me. I was greatly relieved that it was over! And I had no desire to get back on the minibike. Lucky for me, although my dad was obviously unsettled and apprehensive, he insisted I go for another ride - right away. Reluctantly, I did and sort of regained my confidence. Eventually, I was back to riding as if nothing had happened. Almost. To this day, I have never ridden anything down that hill. Scaring my parents was one thing, scaring myself was quite another. I don't think it's supposed to work that way.

Bruce A. Borders, author and songwriter has over 500 songs and 9 books. Over My Dead Body, his latest ebook, is available on Apple I-Pad®, Amazon Kindle®, Barnes & Noble Nook® and Sony Reader®. For more information, visit or

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