334 – The Knock

Accidents happen. That’s pretty much all they do. I suppose sometimes there are close misses, almost-accidents we talk about in reverent tones as if nearly touched by a deity as opposed to a swerving car but other than that, accidents happen and little else.

Except they rarely happen to me.

This is lightning rod territory, I know. By saying I rarely suffer bangs and scrapes, seldom trip, seldom fall, stumble quite often but always in a minor, recoverable way I’m waving my naked arse in the face of fate. By the end of this post I’ll have managed to snap my fingers off iby shutting the laptop too fast–or worse, jam my winky in it, leaving nothing but a gouting stump. I’m not even typing this with my cock out but when accidents happen and I’ve survived thirty-three years virtually untouched, I’m well overdue suffering some serious dismembering incident.

I’ve never broken a bone in my life. That’s my yard stick for serious accidents–that and impalement, and anything that rents a hole big enough in your skin for any onlookers to have a good old nose at your organs. I view other people who’ve made it to ripe age without breaking bones as kin, and greet them with a warm smile once they reveal their skeleton is in tip-top condition. We’re part of a special club, whose members drink milk by the gallon and take extra care when climbing trees.

I’ve been called a liar before by claiming never to have broken a bone. Well, I haven’t, and that makes me special. If you’ve never broken a bone either then you’re special too. We’re like people who still have their tonsils and appendixes well into adulthood–in fact, I do still have my tonsils and appendix, and anything else that might have been routinely removed in the process of growing up. I’m practically immortal, when you think about it.

So imagine my alarm when two days ago, while jogging with the dog, I stacked on the sidewalk, catching the toe of my boot on an upraised flagstone and going A over T in a most impressive manner.

It’s been a while. The last time I remember falling over like that was some time in primary school, when I often came home with holes in my trousers where games of It had ended in grazed knees and sobbing on the playground. My mum, deft seamstress that she was, sewed hardy felt patches into the ruined trousers. From a distance nobody was any the wiser, but my plastered, scabbing knee felt the stiff material against it as a constant reminder to be more careful.

I thought I was being careful, jogging with the dog. I’ve been so inactive my whole life that being able to run a hundred metres without falling into an asthmatic fit is rather a nice feeling. I can’t say I enjoy running, but I enjoy not struggling for breath with a stitch in my side once I’m done. Having a dog s license to walk, jog and run in a way that would otherwise have everyone watching me from their windows, tutting at this wobbly shambling man. Dogs necessitate wonky running, with the leash and their preponderance for stopping abruptly to sniff another dog’s wee.

So I switched gears between a fast walk and a gentle jog, stopping for wee breaks, then starting again. It was going pretty well until I hit that stone. Rather than collapsing like a space hopper filled with jelly I pulled off a suave James Bond roll–a barrel roll, some might say–and kept rolling for a while until I came to a stop in a confused, aching lump.

My jeans were ripped. My knee was grazed. I was a mess.

America’s a dangerous place. I’ve encountered more scrapes, bumps and head gouges this past month than I have at any other point in my life. My wife keeps accidentally kneeing me in the crotch, leaving her in a fit of the giggles and me in a hell of dull, thudding pain. Each night I worry that by morning time the dog will have chewed off one of my ears.

The head injuries are the worst because they happen so frequently. My head, which has remained undinged for most of my life (if you discount my own painful attempts to brain myself, at least) now looks like a mini a rhino’s used for a skateboard. There are pits and lumps and gouges and weals, and something that looks very much like the grand canyon running right down the middle, as if a giant mistook me for his morning eggy and tapped it with a teaspoon the size of Guam.

I’m worried it might be hereditary. My dad is a serial bonce basher with a head like a battlefield. His run ins with door frames, shelves, greenhouses, showers, garages, things falling from high places, alarmingly heavy hail and a runaway grand piano have left the top of his head riddled with scars. Every time I saw him back home he had a new runnel of blood hardened on its way to his forehead. “Again?” I’d say, and he’d grin, crooked.

“It’s a funny story,” he’d say, and then he’d tell me the one about the tearoom ceiling that was too low. His favourite joke is “A man walks into a bar, ‘Owch!’ he says. It was an iron bar.” Sometimes I wonder if the joke was originally written about him.

And now that my hair has thinned, my eyes have developed bags, I’ve married and grown a moustache, the only thing I need to turn into an improved version of my father is a cadenza of hard knocks scrawled on my delicate pate. I’ve got the first few bars down; doubtless the rest will be showing up soon.

I fear my record for not having a breakage will soon be, well, broken. The closest I’ve come to one was when I twisted my ankle and spent a week crawling on hands and knees until I could brave a more appropriate limp. To look at my foot you’d have thought I’d stuffed an egg–perhaps the one misplaced by the giant–down my sock. I don’t often have accidents but when I do, they’re nothing to laugh at.

That was, until I moved here. I’ve barked my shins getting in and out of bed more times than I care to remember. I’ve burned myself cooking too many times to count. I’ve grated my knuckles along with the cheese, trapped fingers in drawers, tripped, twisted and fallen and hurt my back–and good God, I’ve only been here a month, and I’m taking special care not to do anything dangerous as without insurance a trip to the hospital could prove ridiculously costly. I feel like I’m in a Final Destination movie only instead of planning an elaborately gory death scene the grim reaper’s going to niggle me to my grave with the death of a thousand pasta scaldings.

So I’ve decided to encase myself in a Zorb. You know those big inflatable things that looks like a hamster ball made out of bubble wrap? I’m going to seal myself in one of those, where I’ll be perpetually protected and cushioned, and the only thing I need worry about are drawing pins. I won’t be able to kiss or hug my wife anymore, but those are small prices o pay for living the rest of my life with my bollocks intact.

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