Recently I've been going through some old pics from when I was a kid and I found one that represents my gracelessness quite well. It's a picture of me holding a damp facecloth to my bicep while my sister Mary stands guard over me. Why was I holding the damp facecloth on my arm? Well, I'll tells ya.
It was Mary's birthday (and if I'm correct at guessing the ages here, it was her 4th birthday which would make me 7) and after the cake had been devoured and the presents had been opened, I went out bike riding with my friend Joey. Now Joey had a super fancy and lightweight BMX-style bike. I had an old Columbia with ape hanger handlebars and a banana seat. It weighed nearly as much as I did. Joey was a kid who was much smaller than I and he had seemingly boundless energy. It was always really hard to keep up with him. He'd be doing all these little jumps and hops up and over curbs and stuff while still maintaining a significant lead over me. He was fast, light, and he never ever tired. In other words, the opposite of me.
On this particular day Joey rode over to my house and we did what we usually did. We'd ride up and down my street and in and out of my driveway. The driveway was halfway down the street so we'd go as fast as we could down the hill and then turn into the driveway at the very last second. The goal was to hit the entrance at an angle where we could get some air. It all sounds harmless enough but there was the added danger of the giant tree. The giant tree sat on our neighbor's property but its trunk stuck out juuuuuust enough onto our side that if you miscalculated your angle of approach, you could end up with a face full of bark. I saw that tree up close and personal more than once. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
The two of us were riding around at the top of my street which kinda made me nervous because there were a couple of brothers who lived in a house right there who were notorious bullies. They had chased me and another kid away from their house when we were walking home from school. They had warned us not to let them catch us in their yard (But we weren't in their yard. We were on the sidewalk. Why would we go in their yard in the first place? Silly bullies, you make no sense). Now here I was riding around in front of their house in bold defiance of their territorial borders. It made my palms all sweaty. Joey was riding around like a lunatic hopping up onto the sidewalk and then using the sloped driveway entrances like mini ramps. He could not be stopped. I was trundling along behind him showcasing my limited catalog of tricks: The Poppa Wheelie (that's what I thought it was called. I realize now that I must have misheard someone say "pop a wheelie" and never thought to question the name), The Curb Jump (a.k.a. The Spoke Breaker), and of course the ever-popular Sliding Skid (my personal favorite...although it did tend to limit the life span of my tires by quite a lot).
Joey was doing these amazing jumps using the lip of the curb and the slope of the driveway as his ramp. I was impressed. I watched him over and over again until I knew just how he did it. On his next approach, I followed on my two-wheeled tank of a bike. He hit that curb and he FLEW across the sidewalk landing neatly and dare-I-say gingerly about 5 feet away. I hit the SAME curb at the SAME speed and my bike nearly came to a complete stop when the front tire hit. I managed somehow to stay upright and followed Joey around for another attempt. This time I watched as he lifted the front tire at the very last second before it hit the curb. OH! That's how he does it. I was so excited to try it out for myself.
I wheeled around and made a bee-line for that curb. A split second before hitting the curb I lifted that giant front wheel up and when the back tire hit, my bike and I were suddenly airborne. Holy shit! I had done it! Hey! Lookit me! I'm totally DOING A TRICK! I was so excited that I hadn't actually failed at the jump that I completely forgot one of the most important parts of this particular trick: Stopping. I looked up and right in front of me loomed a chain link fence that clearly wasn't going to swerve at the last second. I scrunched up my face and slammed full speed into the fence. My bike added insult to injury by clonking me on the head with its handlebars. Thanks for that, bike. I was leaning up against the fence doing an injury inventory when I noticed that my arm really hurt. Hmmm, I'm gonna have to go have Mom check on that for me when I get home. Let me just bend down and pick up my bike here. Huh, that's weird...I can't bend down. My arm seems to be caught on something. Lemme look and see...what...is that...why is the fence going INTO my arm like that? That's when I realized that I was impaled on the top of the chain link fence. The prongs were sticking right into my left bicep. Ow. Ow. Ow. [Note: I tried to find a picture of a chain link fence with those prongs but apparently now-a-days they make them all roundy and no longer have the super sharpened spikey bits anymore.]
I don't remember exactly how but somehow I managed to extricate my arm from the grasp of the fence. I looked around to see where Joey was and he was no where to be found. He had bailed. He did the typical kid thing of panicking about "Oh shit, we're gonna get in trouble for breaking that fence" and took off. Thanks Joey. No, don't worry about me. I'll be fine. I looked at the deep wound on my arm and I remember thinking, "Huh, that doesn't look so bad". And then it started bleeding. A lot.
I was still remarkably calm as I got back on my bike and started down the hill to my house with my left arm out of commission. I zipped down the hill, made the right-hand turn into our driveway too quickly, lost control of the bike and went full-on Superman-style into the not-so-welcoming arms of that goddamn giant tree. It made a huge racket and all the kids in our yard came running over to see what had happened. And that's when I started crying. I had crashed so hard that my handlebars where all crooked and the chain had fallen off (I remember that because it had scratched the hell out of my ankle and gave me a grease tattoo on my calf). I hobbled into the kitchen and there my Mom had to figure out what had happened from my open sobs and snot bubbles. I was a mess. Somehow she determined that I wasn't dying and got me cleaned up and calm enough to take this photo. But don't worry, I survived. Check it:
|No need to go to the hospital for stitches or perhaps a tetanus shot...just put some Mercurochrome on that fucker and walk it off kid.|