Do As I Say

If you live in the piedmont of North Carolina long enough, one thing you will learn is that you can't be too paranoid about ice. You can't worry about looking silly taking baby steps, or testing different surfaces before you plant your foot. If you don't do these things, you will look much sillier on your wet behind.

If the world is a classroom, then the nice thing about getting older truly is that you forget the course material, and experience the joy of learning it all over again, every day.

Yes, I just wiped out on the ice.

I took off down the steps, trash in hand, heedless. I didn't think it had really been freezing rain all day. The Weather Channel said it had, but I hadn't heard or seen it. I did fine until I got to the bottom step, which was absolutely without traction, glazed solid. These things happen so fast: one minute you're a thinking, preoccupied human in a hurry. The next you're a baby again, unable to control your flailing limbs to move from point A to point B.

I heard the dull thud of the step impacting my back, but nestled inside longjohns, a sweatshirt, fleece, and jacket, it was kind of muffled. I'm just now beginning to feel the nice onset of ache that will keep me company for a few days.

The location of it reminds me of my old football injury. (Really, Chewie? you say. Yes, I say.) I was playing intramural flag football at Guilford College -- one of the safest, most benign campus activities there is, right? -- and had caught a pass in the red zone. There were just a few defenders between me and the goal line. I juked one or two to protect my flag, and gauged that I could go up and over the last one: a diving touchdown. What a hero. I wouldn't have to buy my own beer all night.

I launched and broke the plane with the ball, but in mid-air, the defender beneath me raised up, hands groping for my flag. I felt the force of a skull in my side torso. I tumbled into the end zone, 6 points richer, but with the wind knocked out of me.

I felt like Marcus Allen. Hoo hooo! It was only later -- much later, like two weeks or so -- that I started to feel more like Nancy Kerrigan. When I started getting sharp pains every time I took a breath, my friend took me to the emergency room, and Doc said I had a hairline crack in a rib that would just have to heal itself. It did.

I took one for the team, and scored. Ah, glory days. Later I'll tell you about the time I cracked my head open on the soccer field.

But for now, the trash is out, and I'm staying in. Be careful where you step.

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