My First Time

A sculpture of a bicycle

THAT WAS THE DAY I became a man, at the age of fifteen. Sometime in the wee hours of a Sunday morning, at the foot of a driveway in Garland, Texas. If that sounds a bit lurid, well, it was.

Only halfway down the first block of my Dallas Morning News paper route, the canvas saddlebags hanging either side of my rear wheel still bulged so much one would whine on the tire whenever I’d lean into a turn. It was the sixties, man. There was lots to report, and I was packing all the newsprint I could fit.

Hurling one of the two-pounders onto a front step must have thrown me off balance, and my bike went down. Now it just laid there, because of my overstuffed bags its two wheels off the ground like the legs of a bloated armadillo. And pull and push as I might, I couldn’t get the thing up again. I began to cry.

I ran almost a mile to my house to wake my dad, but the tear-jerker story I’d formulated along the way, of earnest youth overcome by the cruel forces of nature, didn’t move June. She refused to wake a guy who was already working two jobs of his own. So I returned to my bike, this time slowly, walking, and somewhere between home and throwing the next paper on my route, I grew up.

So this first post serves to establish the three-fold theme of Long.Strange.Trip. That is to say, here I am years later still formulating my explanations, still getting back up on two wheels, and still finding it impossible to avoid the rites of passage that never seem to end. I have the feeling somebody out there knows the route.

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