Some things aren't all that funny.

Just A Little Bike

Winner of the 2003 Erma Bombeck Award.

The other day I dropped off my son’s little bike at the church rummage sale.

This is the little bike with special knurled steel pegs sticking out of the front axle, pegs my son could stand on so he could, for reasons obvious only to him, bounce and pirouette the bike on its front wheel.

This is the little bike that had no kickstand, and no fenders, and no trim of any kind, because these things would add weight, and weight is to be avoided at all costs when the whole idea of a little bike is to defy the laws of physics.

Lost Voices at Vista Maria

We don't know their stories, but each girl has one. They are tall and short, thin and not-so-thin, brash and reserved. Some of them show a sadness in their eyes deeper than you want to imagine, and others wear a mask that most of the world will never penetrate.


And they are children.


These are the young women living at Vista Maria, a foster care facility for at-risk girls in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. Most of them are there to escape lives of abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Some of them were rescued from human trafficking operations – which is a twenty-first century euphemism for slavery. They range in age from eleven to eighteen, but the average is about fourteen. 


Let's put that into perspective. When I was fourteen years old, the girl I liked "went out" with me on our first "real" date. Her mom dropped us off at a theater to see a movie. I think it was The Great Race, because we were not allowed to go to the racy new Bond film, Thunderball. Then her dad picked us up and sat by himself at another table while I bought her a root beer float at A&W. 


Sadly, these girls have lived in a very different world. And now they find themselves in the sanctuary of Vista Maria, getting the help they need as they try to rebuild lives that should be way too new and pure to need rebuilding. Last week, thanks to funding from NorthRidge Church in Plymouth, MI, my Lost Voices team had the incredible privilege to join in that effort. 

Now And Then


When I was a kid I had a sort-of girlfriend called Catnip Catie. Her name came from the fact that she always kept her personal supply of Whacky Wonder Weed hidden in her cat’s toys. Mind you, this was back in the olden days, before you could get a Prescription for legal Whacky Wonder Weed to treat your case of Restless Leg Syndrome. 

I met Catie working in the hospital, where she was a Licensed Practical Nurse and I was a Certified Bedpan Technologist. She was also an artist, so she painted peace signs, and flowers, and variations on those cool Keep On Truckin’ cartoon guys on my guitar. She lived in a very colorful little Catie-decorated house trailer parked out in a field behind an old gas station.

Catie didn’t turn out to be a huge part of my life. I knew her for a couple of years, then we drifted our separate ways. But sometimes, forty years later, I like to just shut my eyes, and drift back, and hang out for a while in Catie’s trailer, inhaling the scent of her patchouli, and her paint, and fresh coffee, and last week’s bacon, all laced with just a hint of Whacky Wonder Weed and kitty litter.


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