If my boys had a morning radio show they would be called Milk and… oh wait, uh, they would be called Crash and Burn. This is because Jake and Elwood was already taken.
One of them, let’s call him Crash, is full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes, hold my juice box, I got this bitch, is that thing rolling? The other is the engineer type. If my house was Mi6, Crash is 007, Burn is Q.
This was illustrated perfectly the other day. Crash had been upgraded to Burn’s old bike because Burn grew too tall for it and received a new bike. This gave Crash an upgrade in both speed and capabilities. He is 8 years old and finally could cast aside his old bike and the shame of riding something with what are obviously training wheel bolt holes in it.
We were doing laps of a small circuit in our suburban neighborhood, rolling down a gentle slope, building speed into a sweeping right hand, and then making sweet skid marks in the back of a cul de sac. It was nice mom-approved fun.
Then Crash saw a side street with a much steeper grade. I’m talking the kind that if a trucker drove it, his hemorrhoid doughnut would do double duty keeping his butt cheeks from clenching too hard on the fabric of his seat. Crash immediately began pushing his bike up it.
“Hey buddy” I called using my dad voice, “don’t go too far up that hill.” He looked back at me like I was crazy and kept pushing. “Buddy, turn around,” I called. I couldn’t confirm it at that distance but I’m sure he rolled his eyes.
“OK!” he yelled and turned downhill. “Take it easy,” I hollered to ears that were already deafened by rushing wind.
I saw his eyes before the wreck, they were wide with fear. He was going faster than he ever had and he was frozen at the controls. He was no NASA test pilot, he was now “Super Dave”.
“Oh crap,” I thought. There was nothing I could do but watch and cringe as he continued his doomed reentry, tiny white knuckles locked on the grips, no fingers on brake levers. I glanced down the block. Mom was escorting the 4 year old girl on her tiny pink scooter wearing a pink kitty cat helmet. I briefly wanted to go hang out in the pink kitty cat universe.
Crash never touched the brakes or tried to make the turn, he just t-boned the curb. He did the classic superman over the bars, using his thighs to readjust them on his way over as he somersaulted through the air. He somehow managed to hit the grass strip in between the sidewalk and the street, narrowly avoiding concrete and skipping like a stone across blessedly soft grass.
I ran over to him. He was in shock a little, but no obvious injuries. I looked at his teeth; no blood, still lots of teeth, I got the grass out of his mouth before mom could see, and slowly removed his banged up helmet.
“You guys OK?” Mom yelled from cat-themed safety land. She hadn’t seen the crash or she would be sprinting towards us with a cat-themed child tucked under her arm like a football. I didn’t reply, I was deep in triage mode.
I laid him down on the grass, everything was still more or less symmetrical (always a good sign) and outside of a little sniffling he appeared to be a perfectly serviceable 8 year old boy.
“Well…you seem OK, want to go again?” I joked.
“No” He said wiping tears and grass off. But he shot me his trademark smirk, which he stole from me years ago.
I picked up his bike and was even more impressed. He had folded the chromoly fork back to the frame so it was un-rideable. We approached mom who immediately redid the triage and mommed the hell out of him all the way home while chastising me for “making him race.”
An hour later he was fine, playing video games on the couch. I was in the garage taking the bike apart to see if I should get a new fork or if it was totaled. Enter Burn. My older kid who is like 10 going on 70 wandered into the garage with a Popsicle in hand.
“Crash wrecked his bike huh?” Burn said.
“Yeah but he’s ok,” I replied.
Then my kid took a walk around the bike like an old guy at a car show lecturing you about your own vehicle, since it used to be his. No shit he hooked a thumb in a belt loop.
“Looks like he bent the fork pretty good, probably need a new headset, is the wheel still true, did ya check for metal fatigue?” Talk about fatigue. Then he strolled off like any perfect armchair expert. He was also somewhat concerned that this might automatically guarantee his little brother a new bike… after all, you don’t want to go setting that precedent.
I pictured an alternate universe where ten years from now Crash climbs from a wadded up race car, once again miraculously unharmed. Burn begins to lecture him on how he told him the car still needed a break in period, Crash just shoots his smirk at Burn “well, I broke it in pretty good eh?” Then heads towards the nearest umbrella girl and his Corvette.