I think the third wheel gets a bad rap.
And I would know, considering I've been a willing wheel for many years...
The third wheel has a negative connotation--conjuring up images of that tag along kid who followed you around on the playground. Or the girl your mom coerced you into inviting to your slumber party. And the roommate who regularly crashed your movie night on the couch with your boyfriend. (You know who you are!)
But not all third wheels are unwelcome guests. Some, like me, are invited--even bribed or begged into attending an event with the other two. (More on that in a minute but it starts with--MARE-UH-THON!)
I've been a member of the tricycle as Liz, her husband Mike, and I refer to our arrangement, for at least a decade. (Maybe I'll get a special pin soon? In the spirit of "wings" for flying, I'll get a wheel?)
We first officially took the tricycle out for a spin for our 10th high school reunion. Liz and Mike had just gotten married and I had, well, just gotten dumped. On the way down we chatted, who had the bigger news? Liz and Mike?
A wedding! A honeymoon! A new house!
Depression diagnosis! A new bottle of Prozac! A singles support group!
As we tricycled to see our Vista High School classmates (go Panthers!), I remember feeling relieved that at least I wouldn't be walking in alone. For a few minutes, I could deflect questions about myself because I'd be standing with Liz and Mike as they discussed their new marriage. Maybe I could even grab a glass of wine before I began answering questions about why I was still single.
I never imagined that, instead of my life or even Liz's post high school life, it would be MIKE at center stage--fielding questions--about his height!? Had he ever played professional basketball? Were all of his friends tall? How did he get soo tall? I mean he's definitely tall (6'6"), but he's not the Jolly Green Giant or anything!
But I'd still like to take this time to give Mike front wheel Fenton a special shout out for literally overshadowing me!
Recently, Liz asked me if I wanted to go to San Diego to watch her brother-in-law run in a marathon. And then, suddenly, the pitch of her voice got higher as she tried to sell me on the experience. And I knew something was up.
The energy is amazing! It's inspirational! And, um, maybe you can also help me watch the kids when Mike's off with his brother.
Bingo! Energy smenergy. She wanted this wheel to babysit!
I agreed, because, well Auntie Lisa does love Liz's kids and the fact that her two-and-a-half-year-old son, Shane, points to blonde models in magazines and thinks they're me doesn't hurt either. So, I showed up at 8:00 a.m. only to be relegated to the back of the minivan like a dog or the annoying aunt that no one wants to talk to. In all fairness, I was asked if I was okay. I simply replied,
Need. Air. Back. Here.
I asked Liz and Mike what we should call ourselves now that we were traveling with two children? When our friend La Sundra would join us, we'd refer to ourselves as The Quad. But now, with five, what were we? We decided on duallie.
The Marathon was the next day. So that night, we stayed over at Liz's mom's house. It was then that I was told we'd be LEAVING for the run at 6:00 a.m.
At 5:59 on the nose, relegated yet again to the back of the minivan, I was politely asked how I was back there. I simply replied,
Need. Starbucks. Now.
On the way to the race, I listened as Liz and Mike chatted about how comfortable their bed had been the night before. I had to chime in. I yelled up to the front seat over Liz's four-year-old daughter, Riley, belting out Natasha Betingfeld's Soulmate. (Unbelievably cute, BTW!)
Oh really? Was it now? Well, I think I can one up you. My COT in the dining room was freakin' fantastic! Wouldn't have traded with either of you if you paid me!
Okay, so I'll admit that the Marathon did turn out to be lots of energy and excitement, just like Liz promised. Her BIL did awesome (although I stand by my convenient theory that it just cannot be necessary to run 26 whole miles) and it was fun to watch all the "Elvises" run by (it was the Rock N Roll marathon, after all).
And in the interest of full disclosure--since I've kind of thrown Liz & Mike under the bus (how many wheels is that?), I should reveal that Liz has been on the other wheel of a tricycle too...and maybe she wasn't exactly treated like a queen either. She three wheeled it with Matt and me to the Midwest book signings. And we just might have made her sleep in Matt's 6-year-old son's twin bed. :)