“Let’s have a race, Dad,” said Daniel. “Back to the truck.” We had driven to the park to ride our bikes together. There’s a paved path about a mile around the soccer fields and baseball diamonds. Normally, I walk out there as part of my Weight Watchers goal and general Beatles-like desire to be “half the man I used to be”. I agreed to compete in the new tortoise and hare race.
When Daniel does something, he goes all out. He throws a ball as hard as he can; never mind accuracy, never mind control. When he runs, he runs as fast as he possibly can for as long as he can manage it, then stops. As soon as he catches his breath, he’s back running as fast as he can. If he ever goes out for track and field, I’m sure he’ll be a sprinter rather than a marathon runner.
I hadn’t ridden my bike in a long time. The muscles in the back of my legs were throbbing from the effort. It took me a bit, but I found a sedate but steady pace. Daniel flitted around me like a silver and red mosquito. Sometimes he would be a block or more ahead. A moment later he would be far behind, resting along the side of the path.
“Slow and steady, Bub,” I said, quoting the tortoise from Looney Tunes. “Slow and steady.” Daniel led most of the way around the track, but I would occasionally catch up with him as he tried to recover. I would sing the tortoise song as I passed by. Daniel would shake his fist and glare, then jump back on his bike and pedal for all he was worth. In the end Daniel was waiting for me, his bike parked at the edge of the parking lot.
“About time you got here!” he said. “The rabbit beats the turtle for once!”
I got off my bike at the curb and walked it over the edge. “Confidentially,” I said, “the race was to the truck.” At that second, my tire touched the back bumper. “I win!”