by Gabriella Herkert
Tricycle technique molds personality. I know it sounds crazy but I think it’s a theory with some merit. It’s actually my mother’s hypothesis. Granted, she’s the same person who suggested sticking my toe in a hollowed potato for blood poisoning and taught me to short sheet a bed. Her judgment has been questionable in the past. This time, though, I think she might actually have something.
The evidence is all anecdotal. There’s my older sister. She’s the one who rode in circles in one direction around our house until we had serious moat potential. As an adult, she’s the one you can’t discuss religion, money, politics, history, art or the weather with. She’ll trap you in a corner and cut you off from all assistance while she expounds on her view until a white flag surrender seems like a great idea.
There’s me. I graduated early, went to West Point and law school and have written a novel in my ‘spare’ time. When I got on my trike, I put my head down and pumped my legs as fast as I could on a beeline. No stopping to smell roses, no meandering down side roads for this tricyclist, just hard pedaling and no detours.
My younger sister never rode a trike. She was driven. She’d stand on the back and we’d chauffeur her around like royalty. She became the socio-economic overachiever in our group. When she takes vacation, it’s to little out-of-the way chalets in Switzerland. First class, of course, which was predictable given her toddler driving record.
I started taking an informal survey of my friends and acquaintances. The guy who threw his tricycle over a cliff and tried to get it back up became an engineer. The woman who got to the top of the hill and took her feet off the pedals is into extreme sports. Three out of four lawyers questioned never rode a tricycle. Even with that incontrovertible statistic, I remained unconvinced. As a final test, I picked a real individual, someone whose personality and lifestyle were so unique they couldn’t possible fit the theory. I was sure that Susan would lay the whole idea to rest. This was a woman who camped in yurts. No generality could apply to her.
One day, I got up the nerve to ask, ‘How did you ride your tricycle?’
She stared at her Birkenstocks for a long time thinking it over. Finally, she said, ‘I turned it over and used it as a spaceship.’
I really think the National Institute of Health should know about this.