I don't really remember riding the Big Wheel, though I have a vague recollection of envying a neighbor kid's Green Machine. But I must have owned one at some point, because when I saw Monkeyfish riding her new Big Wheel this weekend, it all came back to me:
- The “Lift'n'Shift”: When you got into a tight spot, trapped in a corner or with a wheel in the dirt, the Big Wheel is so light that it was usually easiest to simply stand up, lift the vehicle by its handles, and waddle a few steps to a better location. This is probably why they never introduced a more robust — though heavier — metal frame version of the Big Wheel. It's a perfect symbiosis of man and machine: the Big Wheel carries you — and in a pinch, you carry the Big Wheel.
- The Big Wheel “Crunch”: I had forgotten about that sound, but as soon as I heard it again, I was washed back in time on a roaring wave of white noise. Get three kids with Big Wheels racing around a cul-de-sac, and it sounded like somebody had activated the fire sprinklers at the Pop Rocks factory. Oh, those hollow rotomolded wheels, each one a little echo chamber. Any other manufacturer would have spent man-years and millions of dollars to eliminate this unbelievable, intolerable, monstrous design flaw. Mattel made it into a feature.
- Achilles Wheel: When you tire of pedaling, and are just Fred-Flintstone-ing the Big Wheel along, there is a very real danger of running over your own heel. This is analogous to burning yourself on the tailpipe of your hog. And it's always an unpleasant surprise. I mean, when you're guiding your mom through the grocery store and stop short — your wide eyes fastened upon that Froot Loops box — you kind of expect your mom to run over your heel with the cart. Or at least you should, because it happens every single time you go to the store. But when the ’Wheel betrays you, that's harsh. I carried you, man! I picked you up and carried you!
Monkeyfish says thanks for the sweet wheels, Grandma! And thanks for the memories.