Thursday, July 7, 2011

ma'am I am tonight

or, what friends are for


We make for a segment named "Dread and Terror", which—rather beautifully, granted—combines my least favorite trail elements of exposure, water, and pointy rocks2. My ride ends predictably some distance down the cliffside, in a lush bed of ferns from which I watch the green underworld spin while waiting for a more competent member of my party to dislodge me. Sabrina's voice, when I hear it, is more musical than usual3.

Left: What I saw, in about as much focus.
Right: What Sabrina saw, about as hilarious.


A trio of high school boys ambles through the automatic door at Alta Bates4. One has a blood-specked towel draped over the back of his head.

They beeline for a row of chairs against the wall, the last of which is double-wide—one friend sits and pats the empty space beside him, drapes an arm around the guy with the towel as he accepts the spot and pulls him closer. Then he catches my eye and yanks the arm away, quickly rolls up the sleeve of his t-shirt, and flexes, actually flexes. I'm instantly awash in guilt and love. So, I suppose, is he.

"It was as if we went to the batting cages," the third guy is saying, "and instead of a ball coming at him it's the bat."

"Perfect rotation!" interjects the flexer. Heh-heh, heh-heh.

I'm picturing a Louisville Slugger but it's clearly something funnier than that because the flexer is now wheezing, grinning, running a hand through his spiky hair. Heh-heh. "What'd you tell him? What'd you tell him?"

"I said I was playing Ping Pong and my friend accidently hit me in the head. He said, I didn't know Ping Pong was so dangerous."

The third friend has his (normal) chair tipped back against the wall, has his eyes shut as he pictures the scene. "And everybody's face, right? The-Worrrrr-ried-Face. Like, oooohhh shit. Classic, so classic."

Flexer is suddenly serious and forgets me, puts his hand where the frayed hem of his friend's cargo shorts meet bare knee. "You know, we just want to make sure you're OK. Get you some care. Just get you some care and stuff."


"Did you drive here?"

"He drove me," I answer. I want to add "in a robot car", because it's true, but the triage nurse is in a foot-tapping hurry and I sense it wouldn't help the case for my own lucidity.

She peers over her glasses to give Jack and his splinted hand a once-over. "Cool. He looks responsible." Jack makes a face that salvages my entire evening.


The patient across the hall is meeting with the doctor. "Yes, I have very sensitive skin in general because I'm European royalty," he says. "You don't get skin like this with normal Americans. I mean, feel it. It's like a baby. Just feel it."

All's well that ends with these people, people.
1. More from Bend itself later. Basically, MTB <3 <3 <3.
2. That's the trail. Not a river by the trail, the trail.
3. This is saying something, seriously.
4. My presence here (yet again) pure precaution, mom.

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