Flogging decides to get very random. In hindsight, the only “continuing theme” that I actually adhered to was my inability to stick to a single concept and finish it before my thoughts wandered to something else.
It has been a long-standing joke amongst my friends that I am so injury prone I could trip over a blade of grass.
As you will recall, I am the only person in history who has set fire to water. You may draw your own conclusions from this. I prefer to think of myself as unlucky. Even so, my yearly battles with General Stupidity Disorder show no signs of abating.
Football (or “soccer” for you Yanks) is my kryptonite. I have broken so many bones playing this stupid bloody game that last year the Atlanta Institute of Orthopedics presented me with its coveted Patient of the Decade award for my (financial) contributions to medicine. The people at my insurance company refer to me as “Black Monday.”
The other day, a couple of football buddies and I were sitting around jawing about various injuries we have had. My mates love me to death, I am sure, because I still can put the ball in the back of the net… but I probably play one game in four thanks to injury. “Jenks,” one of them asked, “can you remember all the concussions you have had?
I could not. How weird is that?
And so, gentle reader, I present for your delight and edification…
My Ten Most Stupid Injuries (Part One)
Number Ten – “Paul’s Ford”
Years ago when I worked at Mirage Studios, I used to ride dirt bikes on occasion with Pete Laird and some of the Mirage crew. Pete is a notorious motorcycle buff and he’d often invite us all to his place in Western Massachusetts, where we would go on cross-country trips that lasted an entire day.
Now giving me a dirt bike is somewhat akin to giving a redneck a stick of dynamite and a box of matches: it makes for some interesting comedy possibilities but you had better make sure you keep your distance. It’s kind of like Darwin in action… but I outwitted Mister Darwin by always riding like a bat out of Hell and never stopping for either corners or trees.
Pete Laird once told me that I had performed the most frightening stunt he had ever witnessed, completely by accident. I came off my bike near the top edge of an abandoned quarry, plunged down about thirty feet onto gravel, and promptly jumped out of the way as the bike came crashing down where I lay, dazed: I remember it as a French Nobleman might remember the descent of a guillotine blade onto his neck.
While I was a pretty decent rider, there was one particular place I could never cross, which became affectionately known as “Paul’s Ford.” The rotten bastards I used to ride with would wade their bikes through this particularly deep and fast moving stream, and then wait on the far bank for me to come across. Most of the time I rode like Evel Knievel. But when it came to Paul’s Ford, I rode like Bugs Bunny. When I got to the very middle of the stream and began to lose my balance, I would invariably gun the throttle, sending the bike to the far side intact, as if ridden by Doctor Seuss’ invisible green trousers. I, on the other hand, would at this point be in mid air and invariably wrapping my arms around a nearby tree trunk. To the delight of my sniggering mates I would grab hold and desperately try to avoid slipping down into the water, which is virtually impossible when you are wearing body armor.
1 bout of walking pneumonia
Jenkins — 0
We will get to more acts of vehicular stupidity later in this occasional series.
Number Nine – “Paul’s Pole”
For a while back in my Massachusetts days, I dated this ski instructor chick named Roxanna. She was pretty much obsessed with skiing, and while I am a sports guy, I had never donned a pair of skis in my life. But what the hell, I thought, I am game for anything. So rather than accept premature defeat I decided I would learn to ski, just to impress her.
Now if you think Jenkins on a dirt bike is a Recipe for Disaster, then Jenkins on skis is, like, Disaster prepared by a Master Chef. It took me only one hour to get off the bunny slope… I graduated probably because I kept flattening small children.
The first thing I did was to purchase a goofy hat that had an arrow through it. Armed with this incredibly stylish garment, and dressed in jeans, I then proceeded to the top of the mountain and came down as fast as possible to the sound of my very annoyed girlfriend, who would yell instructions as I disappeared out of sight in a flurry of limbs and snow.
I discovered what a mogul was the first time I hit one. In fact, I discovered it is quite easy to navigate the first mogul, especially if you push off with your legs and get some height. I also discovered that every subsequent mogul is a lot more difficult… especially if you navigate them on your head. (If you ever hear the term “Bouncing Mogul Competition” on the X-Games, that was me). I survived my first mogul encounter virtually intact but the arrow in my hat was never straight after that.
Later, I learned the joys of cross-country skiing, Kennedy family-style when I went off the side of the track into some pine trees. Like Bode Miller, I have skied extremely drunk. Unlike Bode Miller, I fell over a lot. But at least I was neither rich nor dumb enough to try and catch footballs and make it out alive.
My crowning achievement in skiing was at a place called Mount Killington in Vermont, where I used to ski every Wednesday with my pal, Paul Tonelli. Paul was a great skier… always very encouraging and somewhat amused by my obvious desire to commit suicide. One of the coolest things I have ever done was to go to with Paul to Killington-which is a massive place-on quite possibly the coldest and windiest day on record. At the top of the mountain that day, we glided across the ice using our coats as sails. And we got up quite a lot of speed, too! So much so that it drove us onto a double black diamond run that just happened to only be half covered in either snow or ice. I knew it was going to be trouble when I snapped a big yellow piece of tape: I couldn’t quite read all of the words as I zoomed through it but I do remember that one of them was “Danger” and another of them was “Closed.”
By virtue of my incredible balance and sheer athletic talent, I covered that run like an Olympic Champion, but only assuming that person was an Olympic Champion at Falling Over. Near the bottom of the run, I began to feel exhilarated… I was going to make it out of this alive! I crouched down into a “speed racer” position and barreled towards what I thought was a new part of the same trail but was in fact a blue trail for Beginners (which is were I should have been all along).
Horrors! The trail was full of little kindergarten kids, who were arranged in a little kiddie crocodile and could hardly have expected for Nanook of the North to come flying over their heads with an arrow through his head.
I swerved to avoid killing one of them, thinking to myself that while it might cushion my fall I was probably going to be in trouble if I did. This sent me careening to one side… and smack-dab into a light pole, which I hit face-first at something like thirty miles per hour.
There was a very loud noise, which was either the sound of my nose or, coincidentally, a large passenger jet crashing in the hill at the exact same moment. A hundred horrified faces turned my way… these children had never seen a person decapitated before and I was their first. I checked myself for internal injuries. Everything seemed fine. I stood up. The children looked shocked. I waved to them, with blood dripping down my face, and then skied off.
Such was my confused state, I figured if I pretended it was no big deal then no one would really notice. If you were one of those children, I am fine and only hear the ringing in my head when I am sitting for long periods.
1 dislocated shoulder blade (kind of an unusual injury)
Jenkins — 0
This concludes Numbers Ten and Nine on the countdown of the Ten Most Stupid. I invite you to share your tales of woe on the message board.
In the meantime, I will leave you with one of my favorite surgery pictures: this is my left ankle, opened up with forceps. The plate inserted to reform the shattered leg bone is made of titanium, I believe.
Final Random Thought
Nigh Perfect and I went to Chinese restaurant tonight and I swear, I cannot even catch a break with my Fortune Cookie. “A former lover,” it happily informed me, “will come back into your life.”
If it’s the ski instructor I hope she still has my arrow hat.