On Friday, I tripped on a curb and wiped out pretty hard. I am ok; I am scraped and sore, but not permanently injured. I didn’t see that there was a curb there, and by the time I realized something was wrong I was already falling and there was nothing I could do but take the fall. There’s an awful sickening moment when you’re falling where you’re aware of the fact that you’re ass over teakettle, but also aware that there’s nothing you can do to stop it from happening. I do not like being upside-down and out of control.
The whole experience has caused me to reminisce a little bit about my history of trips, falls, and injuries. Here’s the thing- the vast majority of my injuries throughout my life have been downright cartoonish. I’ll give you two examples.
In the first, it was the summer between ninth and tenth grade. I was riding a ten-speed bike through the Springhill neighborhood where my friends Brian and Phil lived. We were doing this insanely stupid thing where you close your eyes for a moment while riding, just to feel the wind and sun on your face. As you can imagine, this backfired splendidly- in rapid succession, I hit a mailbox and then the ground. The front fork of the ten-speed (which was borrowed from my brother’s friend) was bent at 90 degrees, and I landed in a broken heap at the foot of someone’s driveway.
A small child, smaller than me at least, walked down from the front step where he had been sitting, looked down at me, and demanded, “do that again!”
The specific break of my wrist that I got by hitting the pavement was such an obscure type of break that the doctor reading the x-rays had to look up the name of the specific type of break. I wore a cast for a few months, and that part of my right wrist still hurts from time to time.
In a second very cartoonish injury, I needed seven stitches in my left shin after I fell into an open manhole. I was closing up at work, walking a path I’d taken many times before to go to the utility room on the far side of the building. It was dark, and I was unaware there was a manhole there. Some workers had left it open earlier in the day, and by the time I realized there was a problem, I was six feet shorter and dangling by my elbows. I flailed on the way down in such a way that my arms hit the rim before I fell all the way down. My left shin caught the edge on the way down, and I’d bled all over my shoe by the time I pulled myself back up. The hair on that part of my shin hasn’t grown there ever since, which gives me a weird little bald patch a few inches above the ankle.
When my injuries weren’t ridiculous and cartoonish and self-inflicted, they were usually at the hands of my brothers. Brothers are good for that sort of thing. I have one scar on my knee from when I was playing tug of war with my brother over a piece of the grill before we went on a family vacation. He let go, I kept pulling, and suddenly I had a gouge in my knee.
In another instance, my brothers taught me to fly. Each had me by an arm and a leg, and they were swinging me back and forth. Every time this comes up, and it comes up fairly often at family gatherings, my elder brother swears he didn’t mean to let go. Let go he did, though- both of them did. I flew splendidly through the air, right into the arm of a nearby chair. To this day, I can’t grow a full beard on my chin because of the scar there.
The scar on my forehead? That’s from where my siblings pushed tiny-me’s tricycle into a wall. I have a litany of smaller but less permanent injuries from various competitions and fights with my siblings, including one hilarious time that I was racing Jon down the street on our Schwinn bicycles and I rammed right into the side of a car that had just backed out of the driveway. I flew over the handlebars, slid over the hood of the car, and fell in a crumpled heap to the ground on the other side, laughing all the while. That poor woman was so traumatized, but I just thought it was the most fun I’d had all day. All boys love the Luke Duke hood-slide, even if they don’t know who Luke Duke is.
Sometimes I think that I really ought to just bubble wrap everything in my apartment – I crack my knee on the coffee table at least once a week, I whack my hand on doorframes as I walk past, and stubbing my toe is almost a scheduled event. Maybe I should wear a hazard suit at home.
None of these injuries will ever be quite as over the top ridiculous as the stuff I did when I was younger, though. As for my brothers and sister, I have a sneaky suspicion that all the shared trauma when we were kids is a big part of why we’re so close now as adults. That’s as good a theory as any, I suppose.
What’s the most memorable time you have ever injured yourself?