It’s family legend that I got my first two-wheeler because my father had a good night at poker, and who’d want to tinker with a story like that. (Haven Kimmel, in “A Girl Named Zippy,” has a hauntingly beautiful chapter on the things her family gained and lost, according to her father’s luck, but I knew only about my father’s good luck, as he played for small stakes.)
But it was only in retelling that oft-told story a few days ago that I remembered a detail about that bike — it had a cut-out of a blue elephant balanced on the fender above the rear wheel. And while the bike was used, and painted a flat, utilitarian blue, that elephant made me feel so extraordinary, so special. I was the only kid in the neighborhood with such a decorative feature on my bike. The elephant is stronger in my memory than the actual moment when the training wheels came off and I went lurching forward on my own.