GO FISHING 03 March 2020
Being asleep (or unconscious) can be so peaceful. It’s the state of cognizance that can be a rude awakening.
I was flying through the air like a bird . . . although a neophyte avian creature on a very short flight. Some witnesses likened the aerobatics to a tarantula doing cartwheels. The scene might have elicited gasps, shrieks, and maybe a few chuckles, but I was blissfully unaware of the drama being played out with me as the central character. When I came to, the ignorant bliss quickly wore off. One minute I’m king-of-the-road on a beautiful Yamaha V Star (which has two wheels) and the next I’m on my back staring skyward with red cherries flashing on vehicles all around me. I had the vague sensation that I was somewhere else. I wasn’t.
On the interstate highway skirting Olympia, Washington the drivers heading north at rush hour were fusing and fuming over not rushing anywhere. I’ve done that . . . wondered why some dummy hadn’t been more careful and caused a wreck which was holding me up from going to some very important place. Now the dummy was me . . . except I was feeling more pain than vacuity.
It was the FedEx truck’s fault. Rather, the driver of such. He mashed his brakes because some unthinking jester had mashed the brakes just ahead of him. When the 10,000-watt brake lights in front of me came on I knew instantaneously that no amount of my mashing would prevent the rearranging of my motorcycle’s excellent design. “Swerve to the right,” my brain commanded. It should have given the order several seconds sooner.
The very nice state trooper who came to the ER to give me a ticket for following too closely said that witnesses reported I hit the right rear of said FedEx vehicle, which flipped my beautiful bike across the ditch and into the bushes and left me unconscious in the middle of I-5. If there’s a memory of the impact, it’s lost somewhere in the inner reaches of my gray matter. I’d like to have a video to see exactly what happened. Maybe not.
My first recognition when conscious was of a young woman telling me the ambulance was there and not to try and move. I protested vehemently that I couldn’t go in any ambulance since they strap you down, and I suffer from a severe anxiety syndrome activated by any form of restraint. She said, “Wait here,” (like I was able to go anywhere) and went over to talk to the ambulance guy. She came back and said not to worry because he told her they only do that in the movies. Indeed, they did not strap me down.
At the ER, knowing my noggin had been knocked silly (if not for my world-class helmet I’d be writing this from some part of the nether world), they fired questions at me to determine my state of lucidity. (My wife does that all the time.) One of the first ones: “How old are you.” I remember thinking specifically: “I should know the answer to that.” A few minutes later I beamed: “Wait! I was born in 1945 so you can figure it out.” But I couldn’t come up with a number. Dummy me again.
After two days in the hospital and an operation to pin together the pieces of my right thumb metacarpal, I was home looking for as much pity as possible . . . accompanied by babying and fretting over me. Several days later it was getting old and I would have traded all the fretting and fussing in the world for a reply of the incident . . . one in which I miss the truck and come out smelling like a rose.
This was all three months ago. I can now think and write about it from a perspective of gratitude and sensibility. Gratitude that it wasn’t much, much worse, which a half-foot or so either direction could have made it. Sensibility in the sense that my motorcycle riding days are over. (I don’t believe I just typed that.) I’ve had fifty years of injury-free and fabulous bike riding. Tens of thousands of miles. Glorious. It is really difficult for me to think of never again sailing down highways with the wind in my face and with that glorious king-of-the-road sensation. But time and age take their toll, and trying to not be a dummy-guy, those of my vintage read the message in the stars.
Mine now line up and say: go fishing!