Sunday, October 30, 2011

One Banana, Two Banana...

My first bicycle was a bright green two-wheeler with a white banana seat. And a really tall neon-orange flag attached to the back. The purpose of the flag was presumably so people manipulating four-wheeled forms of transport could see a bicycle on the other side of a brick wall. I can't vouch for whether this prevented great bodily injury (GBI, in legal-speak) in the suburbs of America, but I am guessing bike riders on either side of the Berlin Wall were safe from wayward Volkswagon Beetles. Ideally, neon green Bugs with peace signs (which Berliners hopefully did not confuse with the less-peaceful and more-corporate Mercedes logos) and daisy decals affixed.

As cool as my bicycle was, it caused me both significant physical and psychological pain. I believe this was the very mode of transport that I can blame for my (so far) only broken bone. Back in the day, my older brother and I rode all over the Cape Cod town where we summered, because, back in the day, there was no Jerry Springer Show to clue parents in to how depraved most of America is. My brother and I were careening full-speed down a hill, feet off the pedals, after a morning at the beach, my 9-year-old brother's 10-speeder careening significantly faster than a 7-year-old's banana-seated bike. I hit a bump and wiped out on the hill, ending up on the side of the road. I had no helmet (of course, it was the 1970s), but, thankfully, was equipped with an 8-foot-high plastic flagpole capable of impaling me. My brother continued along, not concerned that his sister was rolled up in a fetal position in the middle of the road. This brother went on to become a doctor, a helper of the frail and infirm, but that is another issue entirely. I forlornly got up and pushed my bicycle down the hill and through the town until I got home. Eventually my parents noticed that I winced every time I moved, and took me to the Cape Cod Hospital ER, where it was determined I had broken my clavicle. My chunky grade-school shoulders were jammed into a flexible brace and I was given a sling for good measure. The positive upshot of this was my best friend Michelle brought me my first ever stuffed animal, a Snoopy, to cheer me up. I didn't know what to do with a stuffed animal, so I later gave it a name, Stevie (after Stevie Nicks), made a paper sign to put around its neck, and put it high up in my bookcase.

In addition to suffering GBI, another downside to having a bicycle with a banana seat is I always seemed to be the butt of a certain joke that, to this day, I don't get. Boys would invariably ask "Do you have a bike? What color is it?" Or something of that ilk. When I would answer "green," they would break into peals of laughter. I am guessing that neither these boys nor their older brothers knew what was funny about this. And I can only imagine what became of these young comedians. 


  1. SNOOPY! I remember my own Snoopy, forgotten until now !(I too grew up in the 70s with banana seats, when kids actually had the freedom and TIME to just ride their bikes around the neighborhood). I once tried roller skating while riding my bike (Hard to explain), closest I came to broken bones. glad you healed!! :))

  2. Hi, Sandra--I have no idea why I didn't name my Snoopy "Snoopy." I also got a neon pink skateboard that I stood on once and tipped it over (I was a little hefty), and never went near it again. I am now perfectly content to be shielded by metal and padding and airbags, driving on four wheels, with a "hi fi" system (now, sadly, an iPod plugged in to the dashboard). My favorite 70s move is the old "Slap Me 5, On the Side, In the Hole, You've Got Soul." How cool were we?????? Thanks for checking in! Best, Karen

  3. I don't know what "green bike" signifies, either. Now I want to know.

  4. Hi, Doug! I always assumed the green bike joke was a guy thing that I didn't have the chromosones to understand... Now I need to move on to a new theory. Take care! Karen