“Let’s see you do a wheelie,” is a fairly common response, mainly from kids. I see it as a definite stage UP from 'where’s your other wheel?
A bit of psychology/anthropology:
Everyone wants to be noticed. They want to be acknowledged. They want their position in the social order to be confirmed or reinforced - even if that position is as an outsider. People like to know where they stand.
Many (most?) people have little to pick them out of the herd as individuals. They do nothing unusual or creative. Therefore they identify themselves as “a Man U. fan”, or “a rate payer”, or, “a mother of three”, or “an unemployed bricklayer”, or whatever.
By way of contrast, I identify myself as Mike Wilkinson. I unicycle, I Morris dance, I fence, I settle insurance claims, but I only refer to myself as a unicyclist, Morris dancer, fencer, insurance assessor when it is relevant. It is something I do, not something I am. I suspect most of the people in this forum would tend to my approach rather than the other approach.
So you come along on your unicycle. You are unusual. You present a bit of a challenge to the other person’s understanding of the social order. They have to react. They can react by:
(1) Ignoring you. Pretending you’re not there. Stare straight ahead. This ‘non-reaction’ IS a reaction because it is NOT natural to ignore the unusual. This confirms the social order and their place in it by simply denying an anomaly in the social order!
(2) Expressing an opinion. This confirms the person’s position in the social order as they see it. Some people do nothing but have opinions, so all they are is the sum of their opinions. We’ve all met 'em. “As a rate payer of 50 years…”, “Well, I’m a Yorkshireman/Texan, and…” and so on.
(3) Fitting YOU into the social order.
(4) Competing. They see you as a threat or challenge. They try to establish themselves as equal or superior to you.
(5) This list is not exhaustive.
The inane and predictable comments we get mainly fall into categories (2), (3) and (4).
Now: let’s take a category (2) reaction - an expression of opinion:
“That looks difficult.”
“You shouldn’t be doing that here!”
“Haaahaaahaaaahaaa” (exaggerated laughter)
Some of these are pleasant. Some are hostile. Some are articulate. Some are not. The comments mirror the personalities and intellects of the people who make them. But all of the comments do one thing: they express an opinion, and by doing so, they help the person commentating to establish/reinforce his or her identity and place in the scheme of things. They are saying (not in the same order):
“I am a nice and liberal minded person with a sense of humour.”
“I am a cool type of guy who talks to unicyclists.”
“I am qualified to appreciate the difficulty and skill involved, so I share in the understanding of it.”
“I don’t need to show off like that. I’m cool.”
“I’m a grown up who deprecates childish behaviour.”
And so on.
Now category (3) Fitting YOU into the social order.
Some people have no strong feeling of self-identity, but they do know where they fit in the social order. To confirm their own validity, as an individual, they need to confirm the social order. So perhaps they say:
“He’s a clown.” (All unicyclists are clowns. Well known fact!)
“He’s a nutter.” (Anyone who does unusual things is a danger to social stability.)
And a variant of (3) is the person who doesn’t have to CONFIRM the social order or fit you into it, but they have to satisfy themselves as to how/why you don’t conform. It’s a bit like those puzzles with two pictures. Can you find 10 differences? It’s hardly an intellectual challenge, but some people can’t help but find all 10.
These people see the unicyclist and think:
“That’s different… what’s different?.. Ah… only one wheel… usually two, but this time only one… got it!” And they triumphantly announce their success to the world.
“You’ve only got one wheel!”
The “only one wheel” comments, however, usually overlap into category (4): competing with you.
These people think:
“That’s unusual… what’s different?.. aha! only one wheel… usually two… that’s a bit clever… I’m the comedian round here… better say something…” Then they say:
“Do you know someone’s stolen your front wheel?”
Look at this carefully. It’s a step up from pointing out that there is only one wheel. They have moved on to propose a humorous explanation. They have established themselves as a bit of an extrovert, LIKE YOU.
If this is done pleasantly, they are really only competing to the extent that they are staking a claim to sharing your territory. You are a bit of a character, but so are they.
If it is done nastily (same words, different emphasis) then they are competing aggressively. They can’t climb up very high, but they can climb so far, then pull you down. This type of person makes his (it is usually a male) comment for public consumption, rather than addressing it to the unicyclist.
And the wheelie comments? I’d say they fall into the ‘competing’ category, but they are a level more sophisticated than “someone’s nicked your other wheel.”
“Someone’s nicked your other wheel,” says, “I’ve noticed you only have one wheel; I’ve noticed it’s unusual; I’m marking my territory by humorously/aggressively suggesting an explanation for why you only have one wheel.”
“Let’s see you do a wheelie!” means, “I’ve noticed you only have one wheel; I have considered the implications of this; I have made a comparison with the more conventional situation of a cycle with two wheels; I have worked out that you could not do a wheelie; the idea of doing a wheelie on a one wheeled machine is absurd; I will mark my territory by pointing this out humorously/aggressively.”
Gosh, sometimes I bore even myself.