This is the perfect wheelie jump, dropping a couple of feet over a four-foot wide strip of round stones to the lower level of the Allstate parking lot. And I am in the middle of my greatest wheelie ever, astride my greatest bike ever: a green five-speed sting-ray with a banana seat, the apotheosis of noble steeds of biking steel circa nineteen-seventy-one.
No doubt my Herculean effort is because my father is watching, Zeuss-like on his blue Schwin—not quite paused to watch, but circling near the landing zone with a vague promise of attention. With my little brother watching as well, it’s only me and the sky and a faint possibility of the moon.
Then, on sudden, at the top of my graceful and impressive ascent, the ghost of Icarus slips my hands from the green hand-grips and I am sailing, along with my bike, barely holding on with my legs. As if in slow motion, the handlebars languidly rotate so that the horns of this bull are looking to the left, the front tire now perpendicular to my line of travel.
As the rubber hits the road, the bike stops short and the banana seat bucks up and tosses me forward, rocketing me like superman, arms out in front of me, wherein the entire trip culminates with a wrist-landing.
Snap! The green twigs of my kid-wrist break and I know it.
Besmirched by asphalt, bruised all around, my dad helps me up from the warm asphalt, still holding warmth from a day in the sun.
“My wrist is broken,” I declare.
“No it’s not,” my father counters.
A passing car, having witnessed the lyrical magnitude of my great crash pulls into the lot to ask if I am okay. “My wrist is broken,” I tell the driver. “No it’s not,” says my dad.
They offer a ride and I wish to accept, my father knows that I don’t need a ride home. “Alright, back on your bike,” says my dad. “I can’t,” I say in all honesty.
“Then you’ll walk your bike home,” he informs me. I do, holding it with my good wrist.
“He sprained his wrist,” my dad informs my mom as we enter the house through the garage into the kitchen. “It’s broken,” I tell her.
She puts my arm in a stinging bowl of ice cubes and water, cubes that had been earmarked for my dad’s after-work scotch and not my dubiously conditioned wrist.
An hour later I say that my wrist really hurts. With great reluctance and negativity (energies I only wish I could honestly say I never heavy-sighed to my kids, but I’d be a pants-on-fire liar of the worst magnitude) we pile into the car and drive to the spanking new suburban hospital ER as the summer sky grows inky dark.
We wait our turn. A horrible accident takes precedence. Another man comes in holding his severed hand in a bloody handkerchief—his dad, if he’s still around, certainly isn’t telling him that his hand is fine.
When it’s my turn we get an X-ray, and then we wait some more. The doctor finally comes out holding the X-Ray and shows my dad how both bones are broken cleanly and no longer sit attached to each other. I’m broken on the inside and the picture proves it.
I’m in great pain, but also great joy—to be right! They give me a shot, right in my bone to numb me for resetting. The resetting still hurts, but then I get a cool cast and a conversation piece to take to sixth grade.
The kids all sign it, even the cool kids. I don’t have to stand in right field and miss fly balls for PE, I draw my dinosaurs for my big project with my left hand, and the teacher tells me they’re not very good (can’t a kid get a break? Oh, I guess I did…). My wrist heals in six weeks and forever after lets me know if it’s going to storm before the rains come.
My dad feels all guilty and ashamed, and he’ll go on to tell me how bad he feels about that whole thing many times. And I forgive him many times over—and today I thank him for the fodder for a post on memory, a once-bad memory that is, in it’s own broken way, now sort of a good memory.