Spectacular injuries take real talent, ladies and gentlemen. You can’t just fall down from an upright position and expect to have some type of memorable accident – unless, of course, you’re at the top of a spiral staircase at the moment, which would be funnier than two chipmunks battling over acorns in a bag placed over Ann Coulter’s head. No, a spectacular injury requires forethought, luck, skill, and sheer stupidity to pull off correctly. A spectacular injury should have people making the “O” mouth when you tell them what happened. A spectacular injury should also not be fatal or utterly life-altering, in the grand scheme of things, because paralysis ain’t funny at all. A spectacular injury should just barely miss the Darwin Award cut. This story is about such an injury.

1986. 8th grade. Chubby smart little fat kid (me) who would walk around West Conway Middle School with his arms pulled into his jacket, flapping them up and down, singing “Broken Wings” by Mr. Mister in the same voice used by the mogwai in “Gremlins”. Can you say “ladies man”? Yeah, me neither. But I was funny, therefore I was well-known if not popular. Conway was a small town then, and everyone knew everyone else. Those were the days when you could tell your mom at 11am “Hey, I’m going over to [friend’s name]’s house”, and you could literally be gone until 8pm without her worrying about you. Nowadays I wanna give my kids a switchblade and a stun gun just to play in the fenced-in back yard. Of course, my kids would be busy stunning themselves and the dogs, but that’s a story for another time.

On the day in question, I left my house around noon, heading to my friend Lamont’s house to chill and jump ramps with my 10 speed bike. It was my prized possession. I had gotten it earlier that summer, after years of riding a yellow 4 speed monstrosity my friends liked to call “The Banana Hearse” because it was long, yellow, and looked like it could transport a body. Upgrading to this luxury sedan of a bike was like winning the Kid Lottery, and I rode that bastard at every opportunity. Lamont’s house was to be the gathering point for the ghetto version of the X Games, or as we called it, “Let’s put some plywood over some cinder blocks and make ramps so we can jump”. And jump, we did. All afternoon, doing incredible stunts like landing without falling and coming to a complete stop before rolling into the ravine. Around 3, I decided to go home for a bit to see what was for dinner, hoping it would be a pot roast or my mom’s famous chicken bog. It was neither, and that proved to be par for the course that day. I ate, and told Mom I was heading back over to Lamont’s to play some video games, to which my mom said “Go! Bye!” This was before we adopted my sister, and I think she enjoyed her time alone. I don’t even wanna THINK about what she did. That’s my MOM, you sick freaks! Jesus. And so it began.

From my house to the corner was about 100 yards or so, give or take a soda can. The intersecting street was a busy one, but on Sundays it wasn’t usually too bad. I was known to take a rolling stop into the intersection before veering left to my friends’ houses, and that day was no different.

While still rolling, I looked to the right. Nothing.

While still rolling, I looked to the left. Car. Coming hard. Shit.

I immediately applied the brakes and turned the handlebars hard to the left, hoping to kinda swoop underneath her and curl back around before she actually reached me, only…the handlebars did a funny, funny thing. You see, in the old-school 10 speed bikes, the handlebars (those curly ones, not the straight ones you see on mountain bikes today) were held on by one center bolt. This center bolt was key; it held the handlebars in position and kept them from sliding. When I tried to turn my bike, my handlebars slid like they had been sprayed with WD-40 and dipped in bacon grease. They slid like an old-timey typewriter. ALLLLL the way to the right – the opposite direction of where I was turning. Time slowed down at this point. All of the things I’m about to list happened in about 15 seconds, if not less:

  • I look down to see what the fuck just happened, and I noticed masking tape where the center bolt should be. FUCK!
  • I look up to see the oncoming car SPINNING 180 degrees as the driver tried to avoid hitting me.
  • I realize that the car’s gonna hit me REAL HARD in my side, so I kick the bike away from me.
  • I spin back toward the car, raising my hands up just as the rear passenger bumper slams into me.
  • I flip.
  • In the air.
  • Like a trained professional acrobat from Ringling Bros. or an extra from “The Matrix”.
  • I land, face-down, on the hot asphalt, with my hands again taking the brunt of the force.
  • The wind is completely knocked out of me, and I can’t move.
  • The driver runs out of the car and thinks I’m dead ’cause I’m not moving.
  • I’m trying like hell to catch my breath, and wondering why my arms hurt so much.
  • I manage to breathe, and roll partly onto my side.

At ths point, the poor lady who hit me was freaking. The fuck. Out. I gasped out that my house was just down the street and that my mom was at home. While she went to get her, I laid back down on the hot asphalt, staring at a bottle cap imbedded there for years. When I looked up, I saw the most hilarious thing ever: my mom, all 200 pounds of her, in her flowery housecoat and worn slippers, running up that street like she was Jesse Owens and the entire Nazi Olympic team was SUPER-PISSED that she had won the gold medal. With a rottweiler chasing her. I swear I heard the “Chariots of Fire” theme song as she sprinted full-speed up the street. Swear to GOD, I laughed when I saw her, which turned out to be a good thing, ’cause then she knew I was okay. Then I told her what had happened, starting with the time-honored kid phrase “See, what had happened was…”. The joy she surely felt lasted approximately 4 seconds before Typical Black Mom reappeared, yelling at me for getting hit by a car and messing up this poor lady’s whole day. I said “Mom, I think I broke my arm.” She said “That’s what you get for being dumb.” I love her, really.

What had happened was, my friends thought it would be REALLY FUNNY if they removed the center bolt without my knowledge and replace it with masking tape, thinking I would discover it immediately upon getting on the bike. When I didn’t, they promptly forgot to mention it to me. They felt pretty awful about it, and I actually thought it was a pretty good prank, aside from the whole getting hit by a car part. The aftermath was that I had broken both wrists, though the doctor didn’t catch the 2nd fracture until 2 days later when I went to a bone specialist. 2 days I walked around, doing shit with my right hand. Idiots. I had casts on both arms up to my elbows, and I was the King of the School, getting more play than a Broadway stage – until that kid had a seizure in the playground.

Showoff.

And that, folks, is a spectacular injury.

Peace.

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