Training wheels


The other day I popped into a store that sells fun stuff. The operative words here are both “fun” and “stuff.” The young, “cool” chick who was on duty at around 10 p.m. was full of youthful exuberance (and other things that were probably purchased from a plastic surgeon and not “Pee Wee’s Playhouse”). She chatted up my friend (who happens to be of a grandfatherly age) and asked him if he surfed.

Serfed perhaps. Surf? I don’t think so.

Suddenly, I imagined him on the beach wearing bright, neon-colored swim trunks, with a great haircut, a fake tan and sporting a perfectly white, toothy grin (supplied by a dentist of record, of course), standing along the shore with a shiny, waxed surfboard. With training wheels. Believe me, this would be a stretch of everyone’s imagination. His teeth are fine, but he’s not exactly Olympic material when it comes to enjoying the journey.

The man rarely smiles. He avoids the sun like I do flying on a holiday weekend. His idea of taking a risk is putting a quarter in a parking meter that gives you 15 minutes of time when he is sure he will only be 10 minutes or has that much time left to live. You get the picture. He’s like Larry David without a hit series (but equally as annoying) and Woody Allen without the successful career or wife who at one time was his daughter. I digress.

But the image of training wheels stuck. Why, I wonder, are training wheels only offered for those learning how to ride a bicycle? Why not for learning how to drive a car or mastering (or at least attempting) love? How come there are no training wheels for this whole thing called life?

This image inspired the thought of everyone on the planet running around with training wheels attached to them as they mastered the different elements of existence – from awkward childhood moments into adulthood, navigating everything from corporate chaos to marriage and death.

And then I realized we would all be nothing but a bunch of three-wheelers, trying to merge with traffic.

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