I�ve lived in Georgia my whole life. Well, except for the two years we lived in North Carolina. I was about six years old when my dad brought home the Flexible Flyer. The steel runners of that sled would glide over the snow-laden hills like a hot knife through butter. It snowed more that one winter in North Carolina than it has ever snowed in Georgia. We wore that sled out that winter. Man! That was a good time.
The sled came with us back to our Georgia homeland. It looked so lonely hanging up on the wall in a dark, dusty corner of the garage. I think I took it down just once in Georgia. It wasn�t any fun. I remember discarding that old sled for a cardboard box. Here in the south, it snows so rarely that sleds are rarely seen. Instead, Southern boys looking for snow day kicks are inventive. We�ll use that old cardboard box to slide haphazardly down a snow-dusted hill. An old trashcan lid glides pretty good too. �Real� snow toys are of no use to us Southern boys.
Anyway, I titled this post �The Flexible Racer� not the Flexible Flyer. Sometimes things appear in life. It�s unexplainable where these objects come from. They just appear and disappear throughout a lifetime. The Flexible Racer is one such item.
The Racer showed up one fall day when I was about ten or eleven. It was built just like that old Flyer except instead of steel runners it had WHEELS! Oh hell yes! A Sled on wheels. I remember taking that bad boy atop a big hill. I slung my body on top of that Sled and Whoosh! I was flying! The wooden steering reacted smoothly in my white knuckled grip. Those greased wheels went much faster than any snow sled.
Snow sleds were used on snow-covered hills, the Racer was used on asphalt-paved roads, Oh the places we�d go! However, being only ten, I overlooked one inherent danger to a sled on wheels�CARS! Oh shit! A ten-year-old boy, flying low to the ground at about forty miles an hour, meets an oncoming car traveling even faster. It�s a good thing small boys have cat like reflexes. I swerved hard left, then hard right, and then had a roll over crash hard into the curb. It was better than the alternative, being lodged under a car going the opposite direction.
After that, the Racer disappeared from my life. Several years later, the Flexible Racer re-appeared. The neighbor across the street had the old Racer hung up in his garage. He took it down and handed it over to me. I was much older and bigger then. I didn�t fit as well on that sled. The wheels traveled as fast as ever, but the thrill was gone. Well, almost gone. It was good for one last thrill ride into adulthood.
I took that sled to the top of the highest hill in the neighborhood. I slung my body on that bad boy and off I went. I slalomed back and forth to the bottom of that hill. Age had caught up to me. No longer had I wanted to fly. Shades of mortality had crept into my soul, at least where that damned sled was concerned.
When I got to the bottom of the hill, I passed that Racer off to a younger neighbor boy. He showed no fear. That�s the way it should be. I never rode that Flexible Racer again. Later that afternoon, I returned it. As I hung the Flexible Racer on it�s dark and dusty hook, all I could think to say was Just Damn!