Sunday, September 12, 2010

In the road again

As I lay on my back in the gas station parking lot last night, dazed and checking the back of my head for blood, I thought, “Is Henry Winkler a good pet name for a spouse? It just sounds so cute. Come here, my little Henry Winkler.”

Actually, I’m not exactly sure what was going through my mind, but that’s as good a guess as any. All I really remember is the sound of skull smacking on pavement, which has a much cocunuttier tone than I would have previously expected.

The reader(s) of this column may remember that I recently documented a nose-exploding faceplant that I took in the woods a few weeks back, while teaching my son Evan, who was riding in a backpack, a valuable lesson about putting too much trust in someone whose brain may or may not be purposefully causing catastrophes so that it will have some decent column fodder before deadline day.

Something I’ve learned in the past couple of weeks is that the ground only acts like your best friend, being all supportive. It’s more like a middle school best friend, one that might be your worst enemy tomorrow. You never know when it’s going to sneak up behind you in a gas station parking lot and smack you right on your bald spot.

Evan has a similar precarious relationship with the ground. He’s just starting to think about taking his first steps, and when he lets go of the coffee table, swaying like a Jenga tower just after someone puts the second-to-last piece on top, you can tell he’s worried about what shenanigans the ground might be thinking about pulling on him.

Last night, my problems with the ground began when I agreed to run down to the gas station to pick up some milk for the baby and some ice cream for the apple crisp. We had a few friends over, so when I saw that my car was parked in, rather than bother anyone to move their cars, I dragged my dusty, trusty bike out of the back of the garage and hopped on. It was only a mile down to the Mobil, almost entirely on residential streets, so what was the worst blunt force head trauma that could happen?

As I coasted into the busy parking lot, I felt like I was back at Penn State again, biking somewhere with purpose, the wind blowing through my remaining hair.

The cool way to dismount a bike is to lift your leg over the backseat while you’re still moving and standing on one pedal for a few beats before you stop. Here’s one apparently very critical question to ask yourself before attempting such a maneuver: Have I, or have I not, recently installed a giant infant seat on the back of my bike?

To a bystander, it probably appeared as though I purposefully reached back and kicked my own bike out from underneath me in one smooth motion.

After Fosbury flopping onto the pavement, I got up and pretended that I wasn’t hurt, casually feeling the pterodactyl egg growing on my head.

Later that night, on the phone, my sister Amy asked a trenchant question, “Dude, why weren’t you wearing your helmet?”

“It’s a good thing I wasn’t! I hit the ground so hard, I might have cracked the plastic. That thing cost fifty bones,” I said.

“I think that’s missing the point, Bro,” she replied.

“Wearing a helmet is like washing your hands in the men’s room: You only do it when someone’s looking,” I said.


“No, I wash my hands,” I said. “And I’ll wear my helmet next time.”

“Good. And I hope you’re sure you really didn’t hurt yourself,” she said.

Of course I didn’t. If I really got hurt, I’d probably still be losing my train of. Um. Was somebody just talking about Fonzi?

You can play in the concussion section with Mike Todd at


  1. He got da moves! Word of advice...when the time comes, let Mommy help him with the bike-riding too ;-)

  2. OUCH! That sounds like something I would do. Don't forget that brain bucket the next time you head out for a ride.

  3. Hey, at least the ice cream wasn't injured! (Glad you're OK too).

  4. JL -- He already dances exactly like me, except with rhythm. And thanks for the advice - probably best I stick to helping with low-velocity activities, like macaroni art.

    MB -- Glad that sounds like something another human would do! Makes me feel better.

    Sergey -- Yeah, had I been incapacitated, serving apple crisp non-a-la-mode would have been the real tragedy.

  5. He dances much better than you....even if you've got beers in you.

  6. Anonymous -- Whoever you are, clearly, I must stop attending wedding receptions with you.