Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Deep Thoughts on Toy-related Injuries, Ducatis, and Cool Wives

Those of you who have spent any time at all with me know that I love my toys. Especially those that have a lethal aspect to them. I have often said that if it goes fast and will kill you, I am all for playing with it. Unfortunately, lethal toys carry with them infinite possibilities for damaging your body. I know all about this. Consider the following:

I love windsurfing. The faster, the better. Several years ago, I was bored, so I decided I would go windsurfing. I loaded the board and headed to Mississinewa Reservoir. There was a nice breeze. Enough to plane the board. The wind picked up considerably and I was having the time of my life…until the mast snapped in two. Not good. The fact that it was December and sleeting did not make it better. However, I had my wetsuit on with my booties, so I was warm. Until I had to get in the water to take the mast apart and roll up the sail, so I could lay on the board and paddle it to shore. This was not hard to do, but I had no gloves. It took me about half an hour to make the shore. By the time I made it, my hands had frozen. I staggered to my car and turned on the heater. I screamed for an hour as they warmed. It was three days before they were any where close to useable. My lovely wife just shook her head and made a comment about not having a lick of sense.

I love sailing. I bought a 16 foot Prindle 10 years ago. A Prindle is like a Hobie Cat, except a Prindle is lots faster. It was equipped with a twin trapeze so two sailors could hike out, suspended by a harness. Very cool. Lee Moore and I were sailing it in about 20 knots of wind one Saturday. Lee was the only person silly enough to get on this boat with me. On a blazing downwind run with both of us hooked up on the trapeze, I let the hull in the water dive down into an oncoming wave. It is called "pearling." The boat cart wheeled, and the shackle that held the boom broke and cracked me right on the bridge of the nose. I was momentarily knocked unconscious and ended up in the water. It is not a good thing when you get hit so hard, it doesn't hurt. For about one minute, I was dazed and bleeding all over the place and was certain that my lovely schnoze was broken. Then the pain started. I still have the scar from the shackle. When the lovely Loon heard about this little mishap, she shook her head and made a comment that she did not know that sailing was a contact sport.

I love mountain biking. One Saturday morning at the Boy's Camp at Winona Lake, I was at the top of a hill where the trail runs down to the river. There was a free-swinging suspension bridge at the bottom of the trail crossing the river. I had already made the run twice. I was tired. I even thought to myself that I needed to walk the bike across the bridge to be safe. So I did that, right? No way! I let it go all the way. Half way down I knew I wasn't going to make it. I didn't. This little trick cost me a broken third vertebrae and a punctured left lung. My left arm was partially paralyzed for six months. The Lynne wanted to know when I was going to grow up and stop acting like a 10-year-old.

I love motorcycles. I had a 2006 Honda CBR 600 RR a while back. 118 horsepower in a bike weighing 350 pounds. That bike was terrifyingly fast. I was riding it at Deal's Gap one sunny Sunday morning, when I let the back wheel slide on the yellow boundary stripe on the road. Down I went. I slid for a while and then tumbled into a deep ravine. I was still OK, until I hit the rock. I did not know it at the time, but I had managed to break six ribs and puncture (yet again) my left lung. I rode the bike back to the motel, loaded it and drove nine hours home. I didn't tell The Roommate until I could no longer deal with the pain. Off to the ER. It was about four months before I could take a full breath. Lynn-o suggested I get a slower bike. Yeah, right.

I love airplanes. Particularly my beloved Mooney Mite. It is a single seat wooden airplane with a stick, a variable pitch prop, retractable landing gear, and a sliding canopy. It was fast and a trick to fly. One day I flew over to Glendale airstrip to show it off. I landed too fast and bent the landing gear. I couldn't lock it up or down. Not good. I ended up belly landing it at Kokomo. In the last few seconds of the flight, I released the canopy lock, slid the canopy back, tightened my harness, turned off the electrical system, closed the fuel valve, turned off the radio, and braced the land gear lever with my right knee. After the plane stopped sliding I jumped out of it and ran. I was uninjured. The point of this tale is that I told Lynners what had happened. She looked me over and determined I wasn't hurt and did not say much more until that night when we were in bed. She will deny that we had this conversation, but every single word set down here is true. Out of the darkness, she said, "I have only one question for you about what happened today and I don't want any of your lawyer b******t answers. I want the truth. OK?" I said I would tell the truth. There was a momentary silence and then she asked, "Did the airplane break or did you F--- up." I responded that I had F---up royally. She then said, "Well, don't do it again, OK?" I told her I would do my best not to.

(editor's note: Yes, she will deny this. She MAY have said 'lawyer b******t,' as that was an understood quantity; she would NEVER utter the "F" word. It just doesn't emerge from her lips. However, the hub has this befuddled memory imbedded and says that it is so memorable because of the level of language. He's confused. The editor is sure she used SOME sort of word, perhaps 'messed up,')

It was after the Mooney Mite conversation that I realized that I was married to an incredible woman. Most wives would be screaming at their husbands that the airplane was going, or they were. Not so with LCB. She knew better. After the bike wreck, you would think that she would have put her foot down about fast motorcycles. But nope. Not a word. What a woman!

Recently, I was in my Dr's office after a checkup. I asked how long I had to live. The Dr. said he didn't know, that everyone is different. I said I should have been dead in June, but here I was. I should have been gone by August, but here I was. He asked what I was doing with the balance of my short life. I told him that if I had a year I would buy another red Ducati motorcycle. He said, "Buy the bike." "So I have a year?" I asked. "I don't know that," he said. "Just buy the bike." I left the office thinking about another Ducati.

Which gets me to what I really wanted to say all along. On the way to Charlotte for Thanksgiving, we spent the night in Asheville, where there happens to be a Ducati dealer. We stopped and looked at the bikes. LCB asked which one I wanted. I pointed it out. She said, "Buy it, we can load it up in the truck and take it with us. Or you can ride it to Charlotte and I will drive the truck. Buy the bike." I told her that I wasn't going to buy it because it was financially irresponsible, given my short life expectancy.

Lynne-let said, "Mike, you only go around once and you don't have much time, I want you to have that bike." She paused and then said, "You know that cruise to Alaska we are going on in June? We will cancel it and use the money for the bike." I did not buy the bike.

Back when I was recovering from surgery, expecting to be dead with in 90 days, Lynnie made arrangements for a cruise to Alaska. I begged off saying I was not well and that I didn't need a trip. I just wanted to be with the people I loved at home. All of which was true. I had no idea how much Lynnie-loo wanted to go on that trip. Because I am a stupid man, I thought the trip was all for me. Wrong. She needed the trip. I did not see that. I have often told her that I have the easy part of all this. I just have to die. She has to be the caregiver, which is much harder. If it was Lynners that was sick, I do not think I could bear it. I could not deal with watching the woman I love die and be unable to do anything about it. I just couldn't handle it.

And here she is offering to give up the Alaska trip so I can buy a Ducati. Astounding! What a woman!

I am not going to buy the bike. I am going to do my best to make that Alaskan trip. According to the Drs., there is no chance that it will happen, but then I'm still here and I was supposed to be dead in June. You never know, maybe I will fool them.
Mike out.


  1. OK, Mike. Go to Alaska in June. Come back to Charlotte next November (we'll even have ham again) and buy that Ducati on your way here. Everyone's happy. My kind of story. :)

  2. june is a great month in alaska and you will thoroughly enjoy the trip....the trek to the glaciers is fabulous and you can do scary stuff while there!!! win win right??? Duffi