Bobby Baker’s Bodacious Bicycle
Gary Cox, University Congregational Church
Wichita, KS (12/24/01)
This is the story of Bobby Baker’s Bodacious Bicycle. Now, the word “bodacious” means fancy and frilly and really something to see. Bobby Baker’s bicycle wasn’t always bodacious. In fact, it started out just like everybody else’s bicycle, and how it wound up getting all bodacious is the reason I’m telling this story. But the story won’t make any sense unless I start at the beginning, because that’s just the way stories work. So we’re going to have to go back a couple of years to a snowy Christmas morning right here in Wichita, Kansas, when Bobby Baker woke up and found a lot less than he was expecting under the Christmas tree.
The truth is, Bobby wanted a bicycle. He knew he was old enough to ride one, because he rode his friends’ bikes all over the neighborhood. And he was certain that this would be the year he got a bicycle of his very own. He told Santa exactly what he wanted every time he saw the guy, whether it was at the mall or at Wal-Mart or downtown at Century Two. And just in case Santa was having trouble with his memory he also wrote a letter to be delivered directly to the North Pole. Why, Bobby even told his mom and dad, just in case the bicycle fell off old Santa’s sleigh.
When Bobby woke up on Christmas morning, he jumped out of bed, ran into the living room, dove under the Christmas tree, and…well, he didn’t find a single present much larger than a shoebox, and it didn’t take a genius to figure out that there wasn’t any way a bike was going to fit in any of those little packages. As he opened each of his gifts, he tried to act happy with the things he was getting, but frankly, picture puzzles and coloring books weren’t quite what he had in mind for this particular Christmas morning. Finally, he had only one gift left to open—the littlest one of all, a box not big enough to hold a bicycle seat, let alone a whole bicycle.
And all that was in the box was a piece of paper. But just when Bobby was convinced this was the worst Christmas ever, he looked at that piece of paper and read the words that were written upon it. The note said, “Look in the garage.” Well, he dropped the note and ran through the living room, through the kitchen, threw open the door to the garage…and there it was! A brand new, shiny, red and silver bicycle. He was so happy, he shouted, “Thank you Santa Claus!” Then he thanked his mom, and he thanked his dad, why he even thanked the Christmas tree. Soon, he was riding around the neighborhood on his brand new bicycle.
He loved that bike. He kept the chain oiled, and he wiped the dust and dirt off of it every single evening before he put it away. He even gave it a coat of wax that his dad used to wax the cars. And every day he rode all around the neighborhood with his friends. Bobby decided he was the happiest he had ever been in his whole life.
Everything was going great until one day when he was riding around the neighborhood and he saw Jenny McGillicutty, one of his classmates from school. She was also riding her bicycle, and when she saw Bobby Baker she rang the bell on her handlebars. “Ring-ring, ring-ring,” it rang out. And she said, “Hi Bobby. That sure is a nice bicycle. Too bad it doesn’t have a bell. I myself would never ride a bicycle unless it had a bell. Oh well, I guess it’s a nice bike anyway. Bye-bye!” And off she went, ringing her bell as she rode away.
That night, as Bobby lay in bed, he thought to himself, “I really must get a bell for my bicycle.” And the very next day he went to the store, and he bought the biggest bell he had ever seen. “Wait until Jenny McGillicutty sees this bell,” he said to himself. “Now she’ll think I have the greatest bike in the world.”
A few days later he saw Jenny riding her bike, and when she saw him she rang her little bell: ring-ring, ring-ring it went. And in response, Bobby rang his great big bell: RING-RING, RING-RING! “Wow!” she thought. “That’s got to be the world’s greatest bicycle bell.” She was a little jealous, but she told Bobby how much she liked it, and watched as he proudly rode off down the street. Now, there is one thing I should mention. The bell on Bobby’s bicycle was so big, it took up half the handlebar. And it made the bike a little hard to ride. So Bobby couldn’t ride as fast or as smooth as he used to, but it was worth it, since he had such a fancy bell.
About a week after he got the bell, Bobby Baker was riding home from school when he saw his old friend Arthur Clark. Arthur admired Bobby’s bicycle, and especially his bell, but Arthur said, “I myself would never ride a bicycle without a basket.” And sure enough, Arthur’s bicycle had a nice little basket that hung over the front of the handlebars. He kept his books and his baseball mitt in the basket, and Bobby had to admit that the basket looked pretty good. And sure enough, the very next day Bobby went to the story and bought the biggest basket he could find and fitted it on the front of his bicycle. The basket was so big, he could barely see over the top of it, and it was so heavy, Bobby had a hard time peddling his bike. But he decided it was worth it, because when Arthur saw the basket a few days later, he told Bobby that it was just about the greatest basket he had ever seen.
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Well, the bike was getting harder and harder to ride, but all his friends thought he had just about the greatest bike in the world. And over the next few months his bike got greater and greater! Peter Pratt had a headlight on his bike, and of course Bobby decided he should get a headlight for his bike too. Janey Johnson had bicycle seat that had flashing lights and a built in radio, and of course Bobby had to find a seat that was even bigger, with more lights and a fancier radio than Janey’s.
Finally, Wally Wilson got a new bicycle that had great big wheels—wheels so big, Wally had to have help climbing up on his bike just to start riding it. So Bobby went out and bought the biggest wheels in the history of bicycling. There was only one problem. The wheels were so big he couldn’t get on the bike. Oh, he tried once, and that was a day Bobby Baker would never forget. It happened like this.
All the kids in the neighborhood had arrived at the Baker’s house, wanting to see the new bicycle wheels they had heard so much about. What they saw was, without a doubt, the most bodacious bicycle they had ever seen. The bicycle’s wheels were so big, Bobby couldn’t possibly get up on top of the bike. So he leaned the bike against the house, and he put his Dad’s ladder beside the bicycle, and he climbed the ladder up the roof of the house, and from there on the roof he carefully slid over onto the bike and started riding.
He looked down on all his friends and rang the bell once, but to be honest, he didn’t ring it again because it took all of his concentration just to keep the bicycle from falling over. The headlight made the bike so top-heavy it wanted to sway from side to side; the flashing lights on the seat were reflecting off the silver bell on the handlebars and almost blinded him; the radio was blasting so loud he couldn’t hear himself think; and the big basket took up so much space he could barely see where he was going. And of course, thanks to those big wheels, he couldn’t stop riding, because if he stopped he would fall over, and that was a long way to fall!
His adventure ended after about a half a block, when he rode into Mr. Pratt’s Maple tree. He had ridden under that tree a hundred times, but this time he was so far off the ground he rode right into the branches, and the bicycle fell out from under him as he hung there dangling among the leaves.
That was the last time Bobby Baker’s Bodacious Bicycle was ever ridden. After that, he just propped it up against the side of the garage, and almost every day people would ride by on their little bicycles and admire that wonderful, amazing bicycle. Bobby no longer rode his bike to school, of course, and he no longer rode around the neighborhood with his friends, since his bike was too bodacious for normal riding. But people would often tell him how lucky he was to have such a great bike, and they would even ask him to stand beside it so they could take a picture of him with his amazing bicycle.
And then, about a year passed by, and Christmas was coming once again. And Bobby Baker had a wonderful idea. On Christmas morning, when Jenny McGillicutty opened her presents—Jenny, remember, is the girl with the little bell on her bicycle–she found a gift from Bobby. It was the big bell from Bobby’s bike that she had admired so much. When Arthur Clark opened his presents—Arthur, remember, is the guy with the little basket on his bike–he found the big basket that had hung from Bobby’s handlebars. You won’t be surprised to hear that Peter Pratt, who had the little headlight on his bike, wound up with a bigger headlight on his bicycle, thanks to Bobby. And Janey Johnson—Janey found a big bicycle seat with flashing lights and radio under her tree, and spent the afternoon installing it on her own bicycle.
And Wally Wilson–the boy with the fairly big wheels–well, Wally didn’t get anything from Bobby, except a note saying that if he had any use for a couple of great big bicycle wheels, he was welcome to pick them up at Bobby’s house.
And that very same afternoon, Bobby hopped on his little silver and red bicycle, which by now was not nearly so bodacious, and he and his friends went riding all over the neighborhood. And while they were riding, a couple of his friends said, “Gosh Bobby, it’s too bad you don’t have the most bodacious bicycle in town anymore.” And Bobby just said, “Yeah, too bad,” and he smiled, and rode along.