<%@ Language=VBScript %> Keepgoing.org - Winter 2001 - The Mighty Green Machine
The Farm

The Mighty Green Machine

By Carter O'Brien

The Green Machine There was a time as a child when I was the king of the world, master of all I could see, the hippest kid on the block.

This status was not because I hit a home run, splattered someone particularly brutally during Dodgeball, or climbed the tallest building in the neighborhood. No, it was because I got a Green Machine for my birthday.

The Green Machine was a fabled synthesis of green and black plastic, featuring those nifty levers that allowed you to spin out of control (this was a lot more fun before you associated spinning out of control with a full body cast and the hospital). It also featured the big bucket seat and the big fat wheels that put the Big Wheel in its place. As the ad says:

“For Guys 8, 9, 10 Years Old Who Really Know How to Ride!”

I’m not sure exactly how old I was when I got mine, but I’m pretty sure I was closer to 8.

Regardless, I immediately began tearing around the neighborhood 8 hours a day in my new dream machine. My route, when I was able to cruise for more than 15 feet without slamming on the levers, spinning like a top, and laughing like a freak, was pretty much just up and down my street, maybe going through the alley and some of the gangways that at the time were totally open (thank you yuppies for enclosing everything with wrought-iron fencing). A block is really, really big when you’re a little kid. I don’t think I ever even crossed the street, but that wasn’t very important – the important thing was that the Green Machine kicked so much ass over the Big Wheels or other such specialty rides in my hood that I was the envy of the block.

Big Wheels featured skinnier wheels, and you didn’t have that sportscar low-to-the-ground feeling. Most importantly, you didn’t have those levers that allowed you to suddenly spin out. My only competition was a kid across the street. His parents had bought him a bike for getting skipped a grade at local holding pen masquerading as an elementary school. We were all pretty unimpressed by that fact, as the school was notorious for skipping kids both up and down with little followable logic (they wanted to skip me from 1st grade to 4th because I had taught myself to read), so basically getting skipped ahead was as remarkable as putting your shoes on the correct feet. But of course, we were envious of the bike, a brand new Mongoose dirt bike, very hip indeed.

However, the newly christened genius left his bike outside overnight the second day he had it, and it got stolen. He was so embarrassed he pretty much stopped playing with the rest of us, and in fact I suspect this led his family to move out of the neighborhood a few months later.

Unfortunately, this was also an omen of things to come – my Green Machine was stolen by someone who broke into our back porch.

I only had it for about 2 weeks, if even that. My reign of green terror was over. No more trash-talking to the kids with the lesser Big Wheels (worse still, I didn’t even have one of those), no more avoiding “titty twisters” from the bigger kids in the hopes they might get to ride it, no more sugar-fueled spinning out, gloriously dizzy, with no thought about personal safety whatsoever.

Damn. Being a kid really blew now that I look back on it. As Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin & Hobbes, once said:

“People who get nostalgic about childhood were obviously never children.”

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Copyright©2001 by Carter O'Brien.

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