My wife says I’m like a fish… and not for my swimming prowess. I like shiny things, not so much jewelry at least on me, but things like shiny red shoes or cars. It’s one of my weaknesses and I’ve been this way since I was a kid.
We had family friends who were I guess what you’d call “well to do.” The two oldest boys were the same age as my two big brothers. Of the many differences between our families was lifestyle due to purchasing power.
As a kid, I always enjoyed going to visit them, but my emotions were purely self-motivated. They had games, guitars, cool bicycles, black lights, and a ping pong table. The absolute coolest thing they had were dirt bikes, or what would become known as moto-cross motorcycles.
While that would be a cool thing all by itself, they did one better, their dad bought them matching Hodaka Combat Wombat bikes. These motorcycles were reddish orange and get this… They had chrome gas tanks!
The brilliant gimmick worked on me, if not anybody else. I could stand and stare at those motorcycles with the chrome gas tanks for endless amounts of time, despite my undiagnosed attention deficit disorder.
While those kids had a lot, their dad was from the old school. He expected certain grades, chores, and attitudes. When it didn’t happen, Mr. Johnson disciplined those boys the old fashioned way and also took material things away from them as part of the consequences.
I forget how old I was when I had the offering of a lifetime. I was probably a couple years older than the first time I saw those bikes. Big enough to be able to ride a 100 cc dirt bike, or at least I was willing to give it a whirl.
The Johnson boys had grown older and the bikes had been taken away from them permanently, so they just sat outside beside their garage. I stopped to ogle and drool at the still cool Hodakas with the chrome gas tanks.
Mr. Johnson noticed I had gone missing and came around the corner of the garage with my dad. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever heard in my short life. He said something like, “You know those things are just gonna sit there and rot, why don’t you load up one of those bikes and take it with you”?
Mr. Johnson went on talking to my dad, “He’ll have a ball with that thing”! – “He’s a good kid,” – “You should let him have one.”
The heavens parted and a light from God shone brilliantly on the chrome gas tanks as my dad sat there looking at those bikes. I couldn’t believe my good fortune! Life would be good, I always pictured myself on a Hodaka with a chrome gas tank.
All I needed was a nod or agreement from my dad, Mr. Johnson’s best friend at the time. I looked at my dad. I had enough respect to not say a word, besides, I suspected at that age it could work against me. I was a student of the art of manipulation for kids. As the youngest you watch and learn how to make your way in life…
My heart began to beat faster… My palms began to sweat… My eyes had to be a difficult thing for my dad to look into as he said… “I don’t think so”… The time to keep silent had passed, “Please Daddy”? I begged. “No son”! he said with a tone that I knew meant, “no son”…
My dad never told me why I couldn’t have a hand me down Hodaka with the coolest gas tank in the world. The reasons could have been numerous. It might have had something to do with his relationship with Mr. Johnson. My dad probably wouldn’t want me to have something I hadn’t earned or he knew me well enough to know that I might have killed myself.
I can say I learned a great deal about self-discipline from his self-discipline. I understood that sometimes what we want the most can be the worst thing for us. Even as an adult, I’ve tried the same thing. Many times my heavenly Father gives me the desire of my heart.
Other times when I ask He says, “No son.”
Yes is easy. True love can be found in “No” if we’re looking for it.
Sometimes it just takes a while…