Friday, 29 February 2008

mud pirates

A strong sense of deja vu yesterday night, sitting in the ER at Peterborough General Hospital with my son Ed, tight lipped and glassy-eyed, holding his left arm in a sling fashioned by the ski patrol people. Same thing happened last year at almost exactly this time. I need a story, he told me. I want a cool story about how my injury came about.
I looked around the waiting room. Babies with runny noses, old people with resigned expressions, a guy in hydro company coveralls, a woman with a limp. Ed was the only one in ski pants.
Snowboarding accident isn't good enough? I said.
He shook his head. Come on, Dad.
He wants something cool, so he comes to his old man. Aww. I put on my thinking pants. (Nothing special about me, you know. Kid authors are regular people. We put our thinking pants on one leg at a time, just like you.)
How about this, I said. You were leaping over a sleeping ostrich on your way to school, when its mate misinterpreted your actions and chased you over a cliff. You damaged your shoulder in the rock slide that followed.
He was silent. Not bad, he admitted. But I want it cooler. And shorter.
An ambulance gurney swung in, two EMTs working hard as they pushed past us and into the bowels of the hospital. Our faces dropped.
Did you see the tube in that guy's throat? Ed asked.
I nodded. Did you see how they bypassed the triage station?
We'd been there for over an hour already. I don't know where broken collarbones rated, triage-wise, but they'd be a long way below crushed windpipes. I exchanged glances with one of the older guys. He nodded, his resigned expression getting deeper.
Cooler than ostriches? I said to Ed. Okay, I'll try. How about ... Red River Cereal? We could come up with a story about that. Or a broken heart? A mechanical device for measuring windspeed?
You mean an anemometer, he said.
I did, but I couldn't think of the name. Yes, I said. Any of those.
He shook his head. Come on, Dad. Cool.
By the time Ed's name was called we had roughed out a storyline. The nurse took us to a cubicle with a pull curtain. Now then, she said, clipboard in hand, what happened to you, young man?
Ed looked off into the distance. Mud pirates, he said. I hi-jacked one of their anti-aircraft lasers, jammed my collarbone on the recoil.
The nurse laughed heartily. Ed glared at me. I wanted cool, he said.


John MacMillan said...

Eegads, I feel Ed's pain! I broke my left leg at about the same age while trying to impress Linda Moran (the doctor's daughter) with my skiing prowess. Ironically I managed to navigate the big hill with aplomb, but hit some ice and crossed my tips on the "bunny-hill" [Is that like Benny Hill? Ed.] with "aplop'.

Alas, Linda's signature on my cast faded and my permanently shortened leg remained (puberty + cast = adult scoliosis). But I still recall Linda's raven hair streaming over my plastered limb as she dotted her 'i' with a heart.

May Ed's skiing pains be as bittersweet.


Richard Scrimger said...

Wow, lost love on the bunny hill. Doesn't get more poignant than that. Funny the things you remember. There was a shared banana seat moment in my own early love life ... but let's not go there. RS

Anonymous said...

Ah, yes. Bicycle moments. Once, when I was about nine years old, my best friend, Joey let me help him paint his bike in their shed. Thick, blue house-paint on the bars and wobbly fenders. He painted my shoes, too, but I didnt get to double-ride. Half-a-dozen kids screaming on their bikes heading for the bottom of the hill.
'Course, Joey was the only one screaming, "No brakes!". I wonder where he got the bike? Anyway, the house where my mother was born ground him to a stop. Some rough scrapes, a bit of blood, but no broken bones.


Richard Scrimger said...

I love the line, "the house where my mother was born." So strong and rural, so of the people, so Cormac McCarthy or Alistair MacLeod. The house where my mother was born is a hospital. RS

Anonymous said...

Glad you liked that line. I almost deleted it but I like it too.

You know a bit about the house, two doors up, but someday, maybe I'll tell more about that house. Now there's a strong, story. Rural? Odd. I think of myself as a city girl.