An open letter to the My Little Pony bike I am trying to assemble for my daughter’s birthday

This week’s blog post is by The Paternity Test co-host Matt Boresi, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood of Chicago with his wife (“Professor Foster”) and their 3-year-old daughter Viva, who doesn’t realize her bike will probably fall to pieces under her as she rides.

Dear My Little Pony Bicycle I Am Trying to Assemble For My Daughter’s Birthday,

I’m sure you understand that no one sets out to be a living cartoon of fatherhood, surrounded by diagrams and hardware in his living room at one in the morning, drinking room temperature coffee and wondering if there’s any possibility he’ll get this tiny pink bicycle assembled before his kid wakes up. Fatherhood sneaks up a person one cheddar brat, one Huey Lewis download and one pair of cargo shorts at a time — until one night you just find yourself there, trying to recover the retaining washer for the front fork you dropped on the carpet, and you realize you’re really a dad.

It’s times like that you need to be cut some slack, so you can finish the project and get a few hours of sleep before a cake-addled birthday girl wants a riding lesson. What you don’t need is a 114 PAGE INSTRUCTION BOOK AND NO INCLUDED TOOLS.

Come on, Bike, this is a post-IKEA world we’re living in. I can buy a bookshelf named after a member of ABBA and assemble it using a cartoon manual and some tiny dowel pins. Would it kill you to make the thing doable with a few Allen wrenches you include in a Ziploc? The outer packaging didn’t say I was going to need SIX wrenches, slip joint pliers, two screwdrivers and something called a “tire lever.” I don’t know what that last thing is, and I sure don’t know where to get one in the city in the middle of the night. I’m sure there’s a Meijer open in Rolling Meadows or something, but it’s late, I’m in my pajamas, I worked all day and also you’re the worst.

Or do I even need the tire lever? You see, your instruction booklet is 114 pages because it includes the assembly instructions for every bike you manufacture – possibly every bike ever manufactured. I think I just flipped past a diagram of a penny-farthing and one of those two seat things from “Butch Cassidy.” The very first page is a picture of an adult mountain bike. I did not purchase an adult mountain bike. I am not an adult bike rider, and the only mountain I’ve seen in a year is the Coors logo I see flying from a plane over the Lakefront, beckoning me to purchase terrible beer with its tacky Colorado siren’s song. The instructions aren’t even in order, just in, what? Component groupings? I have planes to catch and bills to pay and I do NOT need to search through this book like it is a mechanical Choose Your Own Adventure. “If you don’t know what a Front Derailleur is, turn to page 37. Page 37: You should have learned years ago what a Front Derailleur is, and you now feel the life ebbing from your body. The End.”

You even admit on page IV (because your instruction manual has a long preface): “The illustrations in this manual are used to provide examples; the components of your bicycle may differ. In addition, some of the parts shown might be optional and not part of the bicycle’s standard equipment.” So, the bike I bought for my kid isn’t even necessarily included in here? This is just a book on how bikes GENERALLY go together, and hopefully the parts you sold me somehow coalesce into some shadow of the Aristotelian form of a bike that exists in my preschooler’s mind? And some of the parts listed are just there to mess with me???

Sartre got it wrong … hell is an incomprehensible user’s guide.

I’m looking at what I’ve cobbled together thus far, and it’s a pink and purple abomination, gaudily perched like it was just conjured from a Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper to torment the living, and while it’s absolutely lousy with images of Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash (Seriously, on the frame, the tires, the basket – everywhere!), would it have killed you to have included Fluttershy or Applejack or Rarity somewhere on there? If I bust this out at 7 a.m., by 7:05 a.m. my daughter is going to ask what happened to Fluttershy, Applejack and Rarity. Look, I’m not one of those “Brony” guys or anything weird like that, but NO love for Fluttershy? You’d think she was Scarlett Johansson on an Avenger’s lunchbox … absent on photo day.

And let’s not act like the “My Little Pony”-ness of this vehicle was woven inextricably into the fabric of the design – it’s all decals and snap-on spoke covers and lazily inserted rainbow ponytail handlebar flair. This thing fell off a grimy assembly line in Guandong and had some cosmetic Pony frou-frou lobbed into the box. It’s a bike that is one mouthless cat sticker away from being a “Hello Kitty” bike, and one layer of black spray paint and Kylo Ren mask away from being an Episode VII space fascist street machine.

Perhaps I won’t give you to her, Bike. What good can come of bicycling, anyway? Bicycling can only lead to torn ligaments, vegetarianism and wrap-around sunglasses – three things I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

And you don’t come with a kickstand, so clearly you only intend on existing until the training wheels come off, then you expect to be thrown unceremoniously into a dumpster. I think I’d like to speed that process towards completion.

I’ll finish building you, My Little Pony Bike, even if I have to solder you together with additional parts I steal from the stroller, but that doesn’t mean I have to like you.

And if SHE doesn’t like you?

I’ll bet the instructions on a pogo stick are much simpler. Or a little red wagon. Or a Game Boy — kids don’t go outside anymore, anyway. I mean, going outside to play? What is this, “Stand By Me”? And those guys got leeches in their underpants and I think they found a dead body. My kid doesn’t need to find a dead body and she doesn’t need you.

You’re on notice, My Little Pony Bike. You’d better deliver.

Sincerely,

Matt

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