“Did you ever pull up to a red light, and go a little bit too far into the intersection? Just a few extra feet? So you put the car in reverse and back up just a little bit. And then you forget the car is in reverse? And so you sit there, innocently, waiting for the light to change…At this point, you are truly an accident waiting to happen.” – George Carlin 

At 42 years old, I’m at a point in my life where one of my main goals is to minimize the likelihood of physical trauma. Now that doesn’t mean I avoid physical activity. Quite the contrary – I jog, play basketball, golf, and workout. But these days, my injuries tend to be, and should be, “old person” injuries, such as:

- Twisting my ankle while trying to jump four inches into the air to catch a football, or
- Aggravating my hip because my golf swing has “a little too much follow-through,” or
- Tweaking my back trying to make a moderately aggressive move in a basketball game

What my injuries are not supposed to be, however, are “idiot” injuries – the ones that cause everyone who learns of them to say “Well, if you were doing that, of course you were going to get hurt.”

Despite my consistent effort to avoid “idiot” injuries, sometimes life gets a little too stagnant, so I decide to tempt fate. This past Summer, I went tubing. After my kids all went, it was my turn. A few minutes into the ride, I realized what a singular, enormous talent I was in the art of reclining on a rubber doughnut. When the tube drifted into the perilous waters outside the wake of the boat, I had this method of angling my body in such a way that I could absolutely, positively not be thrown. Feeling unshakably confident about my ability, I proceeded to taunt the speed boat driver with hand signals indicating I was bored, disappointed, and altogether unimpressed with her inability to give me an exciting ride.

Ten seconds later I was flying head first into the face of a six foot wave at 40 miles per hour. I still don’t know how I’m alive.

Now let’s get into sub-categories of the “idiot” injury: the tubing incident, for example, can be classified as “Idiot Arrogant.” Two weeks ago, I discovered a heretofore unknown sub-category that shall be classified as “Idiot Ignorant.” Idiot Ignorant can be particularly dangerous because you don’t even realize you’re doing something treacherous, even as you’re doing it.

Look, it seemed completely natural and safe for me to try to hone my basketball skills by dribbling a basketball up and down an indoor court with my eyes closed. I mean, Luke Skywalker blocked lasers without looking, and how many Kung Fu masters in the movies have been able to catch punches and annihilate adversaries while blindfolded? Lots.

So I had Hollywood on my side.

And I had a system – 12 dribbles would take me from one end of the court to the other if I was running casually, and it would take 10 dribbles when I was hauling ass. Now, of course I would open my eyes with a few dribbles remaining. I needed to give myself time to slow down, make a 180-degree turn, and proceed in the other direction.

I mean, I’m not stupid.

As a man over 40, perhaps the most valuable lesson I have learned from my great basketball exercise experiment is that I can literally fall asleep anywhere. I mean, I always knew I could dose off on the couch, at work, at church – you know, boring places. But now I know that I can literally fall asleep while running and dribbling a basketball.

Cut to me wandering the court, all alone, dazed and confused, swiping at my face, wondering why my hands are covered in blood. The hit didn’t knock me out, which was fortunate because the amount of plasma that purges from the bridge of one’s nose when it bursts in half, particularly in the midst of vigorous cardiovascular exercise, is easily enough to suffocate a man.

I slowly realized what had happened, and the breadth of my stupidity crystallized in my head. You were running up and down a basketball court with your eyes closed. OF COURSE this happened.

The gym where I had been doing this is, appropriately, attached to a church. As I walked out of the gym into the bright lights of a carpeted hallway, I met the man who sits at the front desk.

“Do you have any ice?” I said, trying to contain the horror movie pulsing from my face.

The man looked at me, then at the gymnasium doors, then at me again. He knew that only I had entered that gym. He also knew that inside that the gym was nothing but a basketball court. There was no workout room, no chin up bar, no rope ladder, no small firearm shooting range – nothing but a court.

“I couldn’t even begin to explain what just happened,” I said.

As the man hastened off, I went to the bathroom, stood at the sink, ran water that swirled crimson down the drain like that scene from Psycho, and looked into the mirror, my glazed-over eyes still trying to focus.

idiot_nose_section
Idiot.

As the man returned with the ice, the rush of blood slowed, and my shock and pain turned quickly to shame and embarrassment. I wanted nothing more than to get out. I remember seeing drops of blood on the basketball court, and assumed I had also left a stain or two in the nice carpet of the church hallway, but I had to leave. I could not stay in that place one minute longer.

Clutching a bloody bag of ice to my face, I headed out the front door, crossing paths with a well-dressed elderly couple who were coming into the Church for a function of some sort.

“Oh, dear,” the woman said. “Do you have a bloody nose?”
“Not really,” I said, and as I got closer and the pair got a better look, I felt the need to say: “I was doing an exercise I’ve done before, and it went wrong…”

I think I hoped for the words “It’s an exercise I’ve done before” to absolve me of stupidity. But I wasn’t fooling anyone. A person could manage to survive scuba diving in shark infested waters dressed in a Lady Gaga meat suit, but that doesn’t make it ok to do.

I’m driving home. At a red light, I rummage through my workout bag for my cell phone.

“Honey?” I say.
“Yes,” my wife says.
“I went to the church, and nobody was there tonight,” I say. “Basketball must’ve been cancelled or something.”
“Ok,” she says. “Coming home?”
“Yeah,” I say. “Hey…uhm…I kind of hurt myself practicing.”
“Twist your ankle or something?” she says.
“No…uhm…I was doing this thing where I dribble up and down the court with my eyes closed, and I kind of ran into the wall with my face.”
Silence.
“You there?” I say.
Laughter.
“Yeah, very funny,” I say. “Look, can you just start getting all of our first aid stuff out? I’m gonna need to get bandaged up.”

She’s still laughing, and I can hear my oldest son in the background saying “What did he do?” And she tells him and there’s more laughing. Mind you, they don’t even know the extent of the damage. Sure, it’s just my nose, which is inherently funny, but what if I knocked out all my teeth, or…ruptured an eyeball or something?

“Is this an exercise you…heard about from someone?” she says. “Or did you come up with it yourself?”
“I came up with it myself,” I say. “Nobody else is doing it.”
“For good reason, apparently,” she says, still laughing.

I will say that on the few occasions I had performed this exercise without incident, I believed I had discovered something truly groundbreaking in the realm of basketball training. How many people were doing this? Not many.
I never did, however, think I would choose to introduce it to my son’s basketball team, which I coach. After all, they were just 11-year-olds and could never perform such a difficult task correctly, like me – savant of advanced sports training.

Idiot savant.

“Look, could you just be ready when I get home?” I say to my wife. “My nose is pretty bloody.”
“Ok, we’ll be ready,” she says, and then musters as much concern in her voice as she can to say: “Be careful driving home.”

The long and the short of it is: I was ok. I didn’t need stitches. My nose was not altered – mainly because it hit the wall straight on – and if it was broken, it was not in any more pain than my ego.

I guess I can take solace in the fact that there was no security camera in the basketball court to capture my moment of painful humiliation forever. But if I had to guess what it probably looked like, I would imagine it was this (except with my face turned forward):


I leave you with this: If I ever collide with anything or anyone for any reason, and I remark: “That was like running into a brick wall,” take heed, for I know of what I speak.
19 Comments:
Blogger Dan B. said...
Ted... I don't even feel like picking a single facepalm image, so I'm going to just leave this here...

Anonymous JJ said...
I'm assuming you're OK... so... hahhhahahahahaahahahahhaha!

You know what's funny? One time when I was bored, I tried doing that "exercise" too! But, it was at an open outdoor court and I stopped quickly once I realized I didn't have super power 6th sense to walk straight with my eyes closed. Now I know what would've happened had I continued.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
i genuinely hope it isnt anything sinister, but have u considered u cld have undiagnosed sleep apnea?

Blogger Evil Ted said...
Thanks for the concern Anon, but I think it was literally that I had trained my brain to relax while dribbling with my eyes closed. Not much more than that.

Anonymous Flud said...
That is the very definition of 'Basketbawful'.

Ha hahaha ha ha ha haa

Anonymous Anonymous said...
ET,

I really appreciate the new contributors to the site, but your posts are still my favorites. Stuff like this, and the vivid image of you handing a baby to your brother-in-law while shouting "Yarthies!" never fail to crack me up. Thanks for injecting a little levity into my workday.

DB

Blogger Evil Ted said...
Thanks, DB. That means a lot to me.

And when people are able to reference back to previous work? Beings a tear to my eye - a salty tear that stings the bridge my tender nose - but I'm still no less touched...

I continue to be active with stuff that tries to entertain, just doing it differently these days. The next two videos I have on tap may turn the world on its ear (of course I thought my brady/manning puppet vid would do that, so what the hell do I know).

ET

Anonymous Anonymous said...
ET,

I know what you mean about being asleep. I was on a 5 mile run last week and cut through a bank parking lot. A saw the chain across the driveway on the way into the lot and went around it. But by the time I crossed the lot my mind was lost somewhere else, and I didn't see the chain across the exit of the lot. The chain hit me hard across both thighs, then rode up the thighs and gave me good shot right in the balls just for being stupid.

Blogger baikudo kan said...
Moments of weakness. We all must test our abilities and sometimes regret it as well. My biggest mistake was trying to push start a 1300cc motorcycle in first gear by myself. All I remember was the wheelie and me holding on like an Indiana Jones' sidekick. Ted, take comfort, you are not alone.

Blogger Michael Hsu said...
I don't feel like your exercise does anything. We know that Steve Nash used to dribble in the Phoenix Arena with the lights out, but he wasn't running the full length of the court. He just did whatever so he always knew where the ball was without looking at it.

Running full sprints with your eyes closed does nothing. What are you trying to accomplish with this activity?

Blogger Evil Ted said...
Michael,

Not really full sprints. If I had been doing that, I'd probably be dead. I believe I decided to run while dribbling because in the game of basketball, one tends to be running - up and down the court.

I think it is universally clear based on the outcome that the only thing I managed to accomplish was gashing open my nose.

Thank you, however, for injecting scorn and logic into the dialogue.

ET

Blogger Wormboy said...
Oh Ted. I do indeed love your antics!

The dumbest thing I ever did was in 8th grade. I was sitting around one night watching TV, absent mindedly sucking an empty glass onto my mouth. I think I had been drinking grape juice. I went into the bathroom and I shouted in horror. I had a Fred Flintstone-like purplish circle around my mouth. I frantically tried to wash it off, praying that it was the purple grape juice. But of course it wasn't. It was a bruise caused by the vacuum of idly sucking the air out of the glass and having it hang on my face. You can get some interesting effects when you do that for, say, half an hour. I had given myself the world's biggest hickey. Hickeys are no fun if not put there by an attractive woman.

I begged my parents not to make me go to school the next day, but go I did. I'm still not sure what I think about that decision. I wonder how many of my later dating problems came back to that event. I seemed to date girls a year older or younger--never the same age. In other words, those who hadn't witnessed my shame. Think about it. Even if a guy grew up to be an accomplished 6'1" soccer player, could you really erase the spectacular dorkiness from your mind? Plus, I was a quiet kid. How could I over-write those earlier memories in the minds of girls in my grade?

One bright light in this bleak wasteland of personal shame: I did convince one classmate that I had been kicked in the mouth by a horse.

Oh, and word of the day: "orosuctuous"

Blogger Evil Ted said...
Wormboy,

Excellent story. Thanks for sharing in the ET "Humiliation Parade." I remember doing that exact same thing as a child on occasion, but was fortunate enough not to create a lasting bruise.

I couldn't find your WOTD in the dictionary, and then realized upon Googling that you went with, of course, a Sniglet - the greatest invention Rich Hall has given us. Well done.

ET

Anonymous Anonymous said...
nice red clown nose

Blogger Wormboy said...
Ted:

I remember the sniglet "orosuctuous" because one of my friends brought in a page from a sniglet calendar a few weeks after my adventure. That's right. With friends like these....

Blogger Raza said...
I'm gonna do a post soon, probably something to recap the media days from around the league.

Sucks that work has taken over my life so much, but glad to see the posts are still happening on the regular with this place.

And ET, that post was gold buddy!

Blogger miami said...
He just did whatever so he always realized where the basketball was without looking at it.
Miami Dodge

Blogger Joko said...
You do realize, of course, that most of us reading this who play pickup basketball are going to now try this "exercise", right?

My favorite personal injury story on the court was about 10 years ago and involved the very sharp chin of a Frenchman and my forehead. Our collision left a big, deep gash and had me driving to the hospital. I walked into the ER, blood covering my face and approached the nurse's desk.

I rubbed my tummy and deadpanned, "I have a really bad stomach ache..."

Blogger miami said...
Nice post and i appreciate the new contributors to the site!
Miami Dodge

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