Discovering the Relevance of Words
You don’t realize how much you use your ribs until you dislocate one.
I can attest to this from very recent experience. It seems like everything from walking to breathing to getting up off the toilet involves the ribs in some hitherto unknown but totally indispensible way. Just when you start to forget about your idiotic injury you reach down to pet your dog and a sharp pain shoots through your right side. The worst part is that the pain isn’t exactly excruciating. It’s irritating. Because when my ribs hurt it reminds me of how stupid it was that I hurt myself in the first place. This, then, makes me laugh, which in turn hurts my ribs.
You can see the situation I’m in.
Once, when I was a teenager, I sunk an antique military knife into the front of my calf, right next to the shinbone. It was an accident, and it didn’t hit anything but meat, but I felt like a complete idiot. I wasn’t about to tell anyone that I was standing in my bedroom and throwing the blade into a wooden stool three feet away when I bounced a toss off the side of the seat and looked down to see a knife in my leg. So I told everyone at school I got into a knife fight. When I find myself in a vicious knife fight I block with my legs, you see. The other knife-fighters never see that coming.
I want to have a cool story if I’m gonna have to carry around a scar. If my rib is never going to find its way back to its place in line with the others I at least want to claim it’s a souvenir from my (non-existent) boxing days. I’d rather not have to tell people that I got a little bit day-drunk and fell off my bike.
Wait, I know what you’re thinking. Bike crashes can be pretty brutal, that doesn’t have to be lame.
Very true. The problem with my bike crash is that I was stationary at the time. Let me set the scene:
Enter our dashing if slightly over-weight hero, dressed as usual in a short-sleeve button-up shirt and cargo shorts and riding a dilapidated beach cruiser. As he pulls into the suspiciously empty parking lot to return a terrible audio book and pay an unfair and unconstitutional late fee, he decides that the library might indeed be closed. He squints to read the sign on the door with eyes that aren’t great and regrets the fact that he’s just too damn handsome to wear glasses as his bicycle goes from slow to stopped, the front wheel against the curb. The man on the bike wobbles once and falls in a heap to one side, making no effort to break the fall. Pain ensues, but a funny-bone pain that makes him laugh like a crazy asshole on the ground.
That’s it. I tumbled off a bike in a library parking lot, coming down with my arm pinned between my side and the ground. If it had a kickstand, the bike probably wouldn’t even have fallen over with me. And I’ve been moving like a zombie for two days because my ribs hurt. Dislocated, I told myself, based on no medical training.
I figure if it was broken it’d hurt more. Self-diagnosis comes very easily to me, you see. After all, I’ve been self-medicating for years.
Yet the pain still makes me laugh. And laughing still hurts.
Maybe it’s ok to have scars if they tell stories. And even a bad story is good enough to justify a little pain if you tell it right.
Also, pain pills.
Check your bathroom for leftovers from that dental surgery you had a few years back. Those will do the trick. To hell with a story.