I peddled at a leisurely pace to Ols’s house, being in no particular hurry to get to where I was just the day before. The Minnesotan July was rather mild, so I was in my comfortable tank top from the drier and the same pair of denim shorts that I had been wearing for a couple of days.
As I rode, I was thinking about what we would do that day. I figured that we would probably do the usual: play Atari games or watch MTV. Ols was the only one of my friends who had cable TV, so he was quite popular.
Fifteen minutes later, I arrived on his freshly tarred driveway. He was waiting for me in his stuffy garage, fiddling with his black, ten-speed bike. His mom was divorced, so he was left to entertain himself during summer vacations, and his older sister was usually our with her jock boyfriend. Once again we had the house to ourselves.
“Hey. How’s it going?” I asked.
He smiled, brushed back his sweaty, blond skateboarder bangs and said, “Hey. Let’s joust.”
“What?” I said, as I was not sure that I had heard him right.
“Let’s joust on bikes!”
We both loved fantasy games, and while growing up, we had our heads filled with the adventures of Robin Hood and King Arthur. So to live out a fantasy of jousting sounded like a wonderful idea. My head was involuntarily nodding. Besides, it was much safer than playing with matches and black powder like we did the week before.
He grabbed a pair of aluminum garbage can lids. Crashing them together like cymbals he said, “Here are our shields.”
“What about lances?”
He set the shields down with a loud clang and rummaged around through piles of stuff which lined the garage walls. Then he spun around holding a rake and a push-broom. Perfect.
Delighted, I grabbed the broom from his hand and a shield from the ground and went to my blue steed. Holding the ram-horned handlebars, I walked it to the vacant street in front of his house. Summertime was quiet in his neighborhood.
I was really excited about this and it was obvious that he was, too. We just smiled at each other from afar, about 70 yards apart. I wished I had armor and a horse.
“Ready?” he called out.
We mounted our bikes, trying to balance while awkwardly clutching onto our knightly arms. At first, peddling slowly proved to be too unstable to ride, so we had to build up speed.
Faster and faster our legs kept going. Round and round they kept turning. After gaining my control and confidence, I aimed my lance for his shield which protected his chest. Seeing Ols set his lance into position, I grasped my shield’s handle with an iron grip, bracing for the inevitable impact from his lance. Adrenaline was making my heart pound furiously in my chest. I thought it would explode!
Then came the crash…