I turned 49 last Sunday. Next year, I will be eligible to join AARP (although retirement will, it seems, be about 22 years in my future), when I hit the big five-oh. It was a good celebration, and the high point of it was the 21st-century equivalent of a barn-raising.
I had a bike-raising. Or, to be more precise, a trike-raising.
During the winter, I decided that maybe I should supplement walking with another form of aerobic exercise. Several people had suggested I take up bike-riding, but I was reluctant to do this. I had many ear infections as a child (they lessened in frequency after my tonsillectomy in kindergarten), and a lasting effect is that my balance is not perfect. I have always been rather wobbly when riding a two-wheeler, so I have not owned or ridden a bike since high school.
While doing some reading and Web-surfing this winter, I saw articles and pictures about cargo bikes (in some areas, people call them freight bikes). This is an adult tricycle. When the weather started getting warmer, I started looking online for an adult tricycle, talked to many people (online and in person) who were in the know about bicycling, and about two weeks ago, I went to Wal-Mart’s Website and bought a cherry-colored 26″ Schwinn Meridian adult tricycle.
About a week after I received their email confirming the purchase, I came home from work and saw the huge cardboard Schwinn box sitting on my front porch. There was a stick-em on it from FedEx that said We delivered your package. Thanks, guys. So the trike had arrived, but, as I knew, it was not pre-assembled.
I had that covered even before I ordered it. On Easter Sunday, a couple on my block invited me to a potluck. I went, and described the trike that I was ordering. The couple who live diagonally across Maynard from me told me to let them know when the trike arrived, and they would help me put it together.
This was indeed good news. I would not want to ride anything that I had assembled myself. Probably the most hellish Christmas Eve I ever experienced involved putting together the Radio Flyer wagon that was one of Susie’s gifts that year. I offered to return the favor by speaking up for some beer for the two of them.
That’s the allusion in my title. On my birthday, Susie and I both slept a little later than usual, had brunch at the Blue Danube (a first for both of us), and while she was online with her friend in Medina (they’re writing a book together), I walked to Giant Eagle and picked up a six-pack of Burning River Pale Ale, a product of the Great Lakes Brewing Company. (Something funny: I typed Burning River into Wikipedia’s search engine, and it redirected to Cuyahoga River.)
Luca and D’Lyn came over in mid-afternoon, bearing plenty of tools. They did a very good job, and I reminded them that, should they have children, they will spend many a Christmas Eve doing this very thing. Luca was prepared for any eventuality. When I presented them with the beer, I was surprised (and a little embarrassed) to see I had no bottle opener. (I had taken it to work for a potluck, since someone was bringing in Hawaiian Punch or Hi-C, which required a church key to open. The bottle opener was–and still is–in my desk at work.) I knew a kid in high school who prided himself on being able to open bottles with his front teeth, but Luca used one of his tools to do the job.
I was hoping to wind this entry up with dazzling prose describing my maiden voyage on this trike, but that is an entry for another day. As the project neared completion, Luca and D’Lyn discovered that several screws and washers meant to hold on the front fender were missing. My initial thought was that a front fender is not essential to riding the bike, but it seems that they may have packed the wrong rear fenders. When the rear wheels turn, they rub against the fenders, which will eventually ruin the tires. So, I’ve had several emails back and forth with the company, and the small parts, and two rear fenders, should be in my hands in seven to 10 business days.