Monday, July 11, 2011
Pain goes with the territory: A life lived on the edge.
And although I'm not quite knocking on the door to the Half-Century Club, I'm definitely perched on the step where the yellow pages are dropped off, and the way things have been going, I hope the door is automatic.
You see, I've been getting injured.
But this isn't stuff like suffering a high ankle sprain trying to box out a man half my age for a rebound. It's not even like tweaking an Achilles while performing the sprinkler dance in celebration of a new hard lemonade flavor.
Nope. In the past two weeks, I've sustained bodily trauma playing ping pong—and bowling.
Though I'm not proud of these occurrences, I'm also a pragmatist; I'm getting old and I'm certainly not an ageless beef man like Hasselhoff or Seacrest. Shit happens.
The table tennis mishap hurt like a Satanic paper cut and proved to be quite entertaining for those present. I suppose I'd have laughed, too, if I'd watched someone sell out for some John McEnroe backspin and get nothing in return but a thumbnail full of table bottom and the sound of a pork chop spanking plywood.
Fortunately, the joy on my friends' tear-streaked faces made lancing the subsequent blood dome all the more worthwhile.
Then on Sunday, my eleven-year-old daughter, her friend and I strolled into Roxbury Lanes for a little afternoon bowl-o-rama. It's nice that a lot of today's bowling alleys have added casinos, since what other way can slightly desperate-looking, single, male blackjack players be united with children under under one roof?
Cheers to you, capitalist ingenuity.
With the addition of those newfangled, computerized scoring systems, we were off and bowling faster than you could say, "Cool, this one isn't sticky inside."
The injury occurred during the inaugural frame when I awkwardly bent my finger, the middle one, while serving up my best dose of Earl Anthony. I'm not sure how or why a finger can be damaged while tossing a ball straight ahead, and thanks to the bumpers, I salvaged the frame nicely with a spare.
Sadly, the damage had been done, and at that point, I actually considered informing the kids that Dad had hurt his business finger and would have to sit out the final nineteen frames. Mike Ditka's threatening soprano voice instantly invaded my senses:
"Play through the pain, you toddler. I went an entire game after having my scalp ripped off and re-attached at halftime. That's why my hairline is below my eyebrows. Now toughen up, Nancy!"
I heeded the great Ditka's advice and powered through the afternoon's activities, but after returning home, the finger had begun to swell. Rationalizing that the appendage would feel better by morning, I retired that night without the benefit of ice or ibuprofen.
A throbbing sensation jolted me awake at four a.m., but it wasn't the type that can also be caused by bumpy bus rides or watching Scarlett Johansson drink from a garden hose. It was my finger. And it ached like crazy.
I rose from bed and popped a couple of Advil, visualizing a world where board games and other, more forgiving forms of amusement, lined up to greet me. It's fine, I told myself, you don't need to re-affirm your manhood through macho pastimes like ping pong and bowling. You've nothing left to prove, sir, so move forth with peace of mind.
And maybe some kind of cool helmet.