The Baby and the Bicycle

What is love?

*  *  25  *  *

The first time I met Todd, he was nothing special. He was bald, weak, whiny and completely unwilling to listen to what anyone else had to say. He was two months old, but that’s beside the point. The point, if you were paying attention, is that he was nothing special. At least not when I met him.

That changed.

He and his parents came over to our house for some kind of meeting or party or something else that I wasn’t old enough yet to attend. Instead, I was left alone with Todd.

The adults were all in the adjacent room, so if anything had gone wrong (like, for example, if someone were to start screaming out in horrible, agonizing pain), they would be able to hear and come help. My dad told me it was my job to be the grown-up one of the two of us. I told him that if I was such a grown-up I should be able to go to the meeting or party or whatever it was that I wasn’t old enough yet to attend. They laughed and left me alone with Todd.

For the first five minutes, nothing happened. Babies are not generally particularly skilled conversationalists and he didn’t seem to have any interest in getting up or moving in any way, so we just stared at each other.

For five minutes.

Five minutes of just . . .

staring.

It was boring.

So I decided it might be a good idea to mix things up. I ran over to my toybox and started pulling out all my favorites. One by one, I showed Todd my Hot Wheels, my G.I. Joe, my Malibu Barbie, and an assortment of blocks and rubber balls. He seemed unimpressed, so I went for the big gun: my bicycle.

It was brand new, top of the line and all mine. Its beautiful green body was accented by streaks of grey and sharp black handlebars and seat. When I sat on that puppy, my legs barely touched the ground, it was so big. And to top it all off, my dad had added a bright orange horn that you could hear from all the way down the block. It had training wheels, but I had plans. Those babies were coming off as soon as possible. Like, tomorrow. It was practically a given. Practically.

So I rolled in on my bicycle, ready to knock Todd’s socks off. I wheeled it out in front of him, turned a couple of circles, displayed it proudly and waited for a response.

Todd’s socks remained firmly on his feet.

 He even yawned.

I was disgusted. How could anyone possibly view such a magnificent piece of machinery so callously? How could anyone be anything other than awed by its presence.

And yet, Todd sat there.

Yawning.

I realized that the only explanation for his apathy was that he couldn’t see it well enough, so I hopped on the bike and pedaled it a bit closer to him.

He yawned.

I couldn’t take it anymore. Todd needed to appreciate the beauty of what was before him. He needed to understand. So I parked my bicycle not one foot in front of him.

That’s when I finally got a reaction.

Todd looked up at me with a sudden awareness that I had never seen in someone his age. There was a fire in his eye that hadn’t been there a moment before. I knew immediately what had happened: Todd finally saw my bicycle, and he wanted it. As if to confirm my suspicions, he reached out toward it with his hand.

I felt confident that Todd couldn’t get to the bicycle before I could get away on it, so I didn’t worry too much about the hand.

Until the bike jerked to the right.

I was suddenly two whole feet away from where I had been before, Todd still sticking his hand out at me. His eyes were fixed and burning. His jaw was set and he was ready to take me on. I put my feet on the pedals and pushed as hard as I could, driving straight at Todd. He didn’t even flinch. He just flicked his wrist and sent me flying into the lamp against the wall. As his hand curled into a fist, I felt something tightening around my neck and dragging me up the wall.

I could tell from his expression that Todd planned on getting rid of me so he could have the bicycle for himself. I muttered to Todd, “No, Todd. Please. Don’t hurt me.”

Then he must have heard you guys coming, because he dropped me and started crying.

That’s exactly how it happened, Mom. I swear.

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