Six Hands on the Handlebars

My parents were separated. They only stayed that way for two years. Two very important, sometimes scary years. I took comfort in my visits from my brother. He always wanted to play. Six years older than me, a jokester, my closest confidant and life coach during my formative years.

One fine rainy day while he was visiting our apartment in Virginia Beach we hatched a plan. A plan I feel like probably wasn’t thought through and come to think of it, I’m pretty sure was set to fail. Story of my life, but anyway.

I had this awesome Pink Panther Bike. The banana seat was perfect for a plan like ours. I never liked riding on the handlebars after the great fence crash of 1980, so the banana seat was a perfect solution to a two kids / one bike problem.

We lived at Indian Lake Apartments in Virginia Beach during this transitional time. My best friend at the time, Eric, lived upstairs in an apartment with his grandpa. Eric was a cool kid and always down for an adventure and well, this day was no exception.

It sounds crazy today to tell the story…to think that kids would just set out on their own, 11 and 5 years old, to who knows where and be gone for hours, returning home soaking wet and starved. But I really can’t remember anyone noticing. I’ll have to ask the infamous commander of this great and epic expedition and see if he remembers how we got away with it.

The first thing to remember is, we didn’t die. Second to that may be the fact that we could have literally been killed and not one adult tried to stop us. Times were a little different then, I suppose.

At some point in the morning of that fateful day, we wheeled out the trusty single-geared Pink Panther. It was summer so I remember I was scantily clad in a crop top and some shorts. But it could have been a bathing suit for all I can recall.

Eric just happened to come down from his apartment in time to see that we were going for a spin. My brother Kevin, feet firmly planted on the sidewalk held the handlebars still and braced the bike so I could climb aboard. Eric hopped up onto the handlebars and we tested her out. Sturdy. Let’s do this.

We headed out, the shortest route was definitely not the safest. But it was also the only way we knew. After all, we had only ever traveled to Mt. Trashmore in the safety of our Mom’s station wagon. How different could this be?

Well, let me frame this up for you. Have you ever been standing really close to the tracks while a train goes by and you thought wow that’s soooo loud? And then you were like, this things got a lot of power and could crush me to death is a hot second. And then you start to think, is this bitch gonna somehow knock me off my feet and suck me under the wheels? So you step back and you’re like , “shew, I’m never getting that close to a train track again. Mama was right.” Have you?

Ok, so think about that feeling and know that that’s pretty much what it felt like to be flying down the highway on the front tip of the banana seat astride the Pink Panther, smashed in between my peddling to beat Hell brother and my best friend facing literal death on the handlebars….. for five miles….

I have no idea how long it took. An hour? Three? No clue. How fast could we have even been going? But we made it to the park. Of course we made it. My hero brother wouldn’t have let me and my bestie down. Would’ve gotten us killed sure, but not disappointed. No way.

I can’t remember the details of what we actually did at the park that day but I do remember when the thunder started. My hair stood on end and my bare feet tingled in the grass. The black clouds rolled in like vape smoke when the lights go out at the school dance…..

And we got the brick out of there! As lightening danced off the grass behind us, I gritted my teeth in anticipation of a very wet and frightening ride home. Chin tucked and teeth chattering, I remember thinking I might possibly freeze to death. My brother took pity on me, even though I was in the warmest spot on the bike rolled up in a ball with Eric shielding me from the rain. Kevin stopped to give me his shirt.

At this point we were shouted at by a passing motorist.

“Hey kids, can I take your picture for the paper?”

“Um, of course!”

And just like that, we were famous.

We got home and dried off and warmed up and this girl took a nap. My mother came home from work eventually and thankfully she was none the wiser.

Mom: What did you kids get into today?

Us: ….. nothin….

No waiver was signed as you can tell by the misspelled names in the article. No parent permission was given. But the next day when my mom got the paper, there we were, in all our glory and much to her surprise! As you know, famous people don’t get into real trouble and so, neither did we. This is the stuff childhood is made of.

Much thanks to John H. Sheally II for capturing this wonderful memory for us way back when.

Hi! I am the owner and sole writer for “DisturbingClarity”, a humorous yet factual blog found at I began this blog in effort to try to fill in the gaps for travelers like myself, ready for adventure and avoiding disaster. I have also found myself writing about food and gardening and living your best life! I hope you enjoy these articles and please feel free to make suggestions. I would love to hear your ideas!

(….And sometimes I join the community of poets and songstresses on WordPress and break my own heart while I write)

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