We've all heard the adages: "Never give up." "Keep trying until you succeed." "Practice makes perfect."
I'd like to add one: "Proverbs are not always true."
When I was growing up in Manhattan, my mom thought it was too dangerous for me to have a bicycle.
The first time I tried this tantalizing sport was in Central Park. I was 16 years old. My friends and I rented bikes and, with minimal instruction, started off at the crest of a hill.
Having the wind whip through my hair was exciting. I was racing down the sidewalk, exhilarated at my speed, when I saw a couple with two children in my path. I had to stop! But how? I figured if I turned the wheel into the curb, the bike would stop. It did, but I didn't.
Flying off the bike and missing a tree by an inch, I landed face-first in the grass and dirt.
Alarmed, my boyfriend and friends came up to me as I lay sobbing.
"C'mon now," my boyfriend said. "You have to get back on the bike again or you'll never learn."
That's when I became hysterical.
My three friends continued their ride while I continued crying.
On the way home, I said, "Listen, my mom will kill me if she sees me. Let's go to my dad's shop."
Upon taking one look at me, my dad yelled at my date, "What have you done to my beautiful daughter?"
Not having seen a mirror, I started sobbing again: The skin on the left side of my face had been scraped off.
Many years later, my husband, Tom, came home with a small bicycle for me.
"Look," he said, "this is the perfect size for someone not so tall."
Tom explained how the bike worked and off I went.
Why do some folks never "get it"? Even though I know the definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, I drove into the curb to stop the bike.
This time I was going slower than I had been in Central Park. I put my hand out to break my fall. There was no pain, but my finger was shaped like the letter L. Holy moly! Tom couldn't believe his eyes. "We'd better go to the hospital."
After an X-ray, a doctor explained that the finger was dislocated, not broken.
"Lean your head on your husband's shoulder and we will fix this," he said. A little crunch and it was over.
I went to another room for a final X-ray. When I returned, my husband was lying on a gurney.
A nurse explained, "He looked a little pale and needed to lie down."
That was the end of my bicycle-riding attempts. Enough is enough!
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