Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Agony of Defeat

One advantage to being a decidedly non-athletic individual is that I do not have too many sports related injuries to complain about. When I played football in middle school, I once lost sight of the football and stood straight up to find it, only to take a helmet to the groin from the midget who was carrying it. I fully recovered, though I played the rest of the game sounding a lot like Lucille Ball.

Then there was the time that while playing darts, I followed my throw through with a little too much enthusiasm and, with my sense of balance skewered by the two dozen beers I had consumed during the match, stumbled several feet off course before flipping over a table and getting a bloody nose. I am not sure if that counts though because I have done the exact same thing on several occasions just getting up from the bar to make my way to the bathroom. I also once got beaned in the melon while playing horseshoes. I was hit hard enough to make my ears ring but in the end, the only thing permanently injured in that incident was my pride since I somehow managed to do that one to myself.

This past weekend though, I think I really did it. I was bowling and though I am not sure what happened, I know that whatever it was it is extremely painful. In fact, it still hurts and I can barely type. The weird thing about it was that it happened while I was completely sober. A buddy of mine and I had taken our kids to the bowling alley and, as he is from Germany and painfully ignorant of the bowling concept, it was up to me to show the tykes how to send a fifteen-pound sphere of resin hurtling down a wooden lane at thirty-miles an hour, directly into the gutter.

I was on the third frame, when I had ordered the kids to pay attention to me so that they could see how I ran and how I handled the ball. Holding it up in front of my chin, I targeted the middle arrow, took my four steps while letting the ball swing down to my side and swung it back behind me. As I approached the foul line, I then went into my slide and brought the ball forward rapidly to let it go in a futile attempt to knock down at least one of the pins arranged in a triangle before me. I was in the process of letting the ball go when I felt my middle finger pop and, even above the din of a busy bowling alley, heard it crack like a popsicle stick.

The pain was instant and incredible. It brought me down to my knees immediately and I was buckled over in agony so intense that I did not even see how many pins I hit. To make matters worse, it was not really a fresh injury, but a much more severe aggravation of a football injury I had sustained the week before (I jammed it somehow while trying to open a jar of habanero salsa during halftime of the Detroit Lions / Tampa Bay game on October 21st).

Of course, as I was on my knees at the approach to lane 21, my buddy had to accuse me of faking the injury as an excuse to explain away how my two-year-old on the lane next to me was out-bowling me by three pins on the third frame. Frankly, I didn’t need an explanation for that as his lane was equipped with bumpers to keep the ball from going into the gutter whereas the lane the adults were bowling on had no such advantage, which we demonstrated time and time again. Actually, Carson came in second on that game, bowling a 61. His seven-year-old sister scored 63, barely beating him in the tenth frame.

I have no idea what I did to my finger. I know that it is not broken as I have done that before and know exactly what it feels like. I also know that I did not dislocate it, as I still have full movement in it as long as I move it slowly. Sprained? Could be, but I am not certain. All I know for sure is that it is excruciating and every time I type an “i”, I feel the pain all the way up to my elbow if I forget to use my ring finger.

Up until now, I had no idea how debilitating losing your middle finger is. As I said before, opening jars has become exponentially more difficult as has writing with a pen. I tried carving the Halloween pumpkins when we got home but eventually gave up. Typing has become sheer torture and I do not know how I will be able to continue driving my car in this condition as that particular digit is absolutely crucial in navigating urban rush hour traffic. Especially when you drive a car with a wimpy horn.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Dissertations on a Fundamentalist Fairy tale

There is not much to do when you are stuck in a long line at the grocery store. After you’ve scanned the covers of the gossip magazines to check in on the impending break-up of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie or to see how Britney Spears’ hair is coming in, the only thing you can really do to entertain yourself if you have not had the foresight to put some adult beverages on your shopping list is eavesdrop on other people’s conversations. OK, I guess you could egg a faux-invalid as well but that opportunity does not present itself all that often.

A couple of days ago, I was stuck in one of those really long lines and was again reduced to tuning into the conversations of others to occupy myself until I could escape from Wal Mart. Unfortunately, the only conversation I that I could make out were two very large, fierce looking women expressing their outrage to each other over the fact that the local school system will not entertain their requests to have their children taught creationism instead of evolution.

Now, I am not an overly religious person but I try to keep an open mind to other people’s ideas and generally try to respect the beliefs of others as long as they do not attempt to cram them down my throat. In my opinion, religion is a personal matter that is between an individual and their creator. I would never think of judging a person based upon what their opinions on The Almighty are, and I expect the same courtesy in return. If you interrupt my hangover at eleven a.m. on a Saturday morning by knocking on my door and trying to shove a copy of “The Watchtower” down my throat however, do not be so surprised when I try to return the favor by handing you some literature that I feel can help you on our way to a better life, which will probably consist of “The Bartender’s Bible” and a well-used issue of Hustler magazine a liberated from my father in the late 1970’s(speaking of religious experiences….).

My vehement opposition to the mandatory teaching of Creationism, or “Intelligent Design” as it is called these days, is that I believe it to be little more than a fundamentalist fairy tale, with about as much basis in fact as “Snow White and The Seven Dwarves”. I am firm in this conviction, mainly because of the overwhelming abundance of obvious evidence contrary to the theory of Creation. For us to have been the end result of “Intelligent Design”, well, we are just designed far too unintelligently.

An intelligent designer would have at least designed the modern man with opposable big toes. This would have enabled us to hold a human baby, a bottle of formula and the television remote control simultaneously so that our wives would not catch us watching the last fifteen minutes of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” at two in the morning with the little tyke. This would also have given us the ability to more comfortably work on the basement plumbing, being able to hang effortlessly from the ceiling with both feet while working with both a blow torch and a flashlight. Not to mention that with the element of suspension involved, the ancient inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent could have added an extra five chapters to the Kuma Sutra. Ten if the designer could have sprung for a prehensile tail as well.

And what about having an extra eye in the back of one’s head? Besides coming in handy spotting saber-toothed tigers sneaking up on us from behind among the tall grasses of the prehistoric savannah, this could be incredibly useful in modern times for those of us cursed with dim-witted parents who think that a wrist rocket slingshot is the perfect birthday gift for their four-year-old grandson. I will go on record right now and say that if this ever becomes an elective surgery option during my lifetime, I will mortgage my house and sell my car to get one of those babies installed, if for no other reason than to freak out the folks in line behind me at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

It is not like there is no precedence for this in nature either. There are several thin-headed lizards in Africa with bulging eyes on the sides of its melon that can move independently of each other and basically provides the reptile with a 360 degree field of vision, sort of like a cold-blooded Marty Feldman. This amazing ability was granted to a creature with a brain the size of a chickpea, which in my opinion was a complete waste. It is not like the Jackson Chameleon was going to ever evolve into a species that would invent a longer lasting light bulb or anything so who cares if he is gobbled up by a passing desert rat?

And speaking of chameleons, what about the ability to change colors to match one’s surroundings? Though it would be great to blend into walls or forests and make oneself invisible, I would actually favor a much more subtle color change that would allow me to survive getting a flat tire in one of the rougher areas on Detroit’s west side.

I could go on, but I am sure all of you are smart enough to point out the advantages that could be found in having an elephant’s trunk, a porcupine’s quills or the ability of the birds to fly. You get my point. And of course, I am sure that there are those of you out there that will try to point out the disadvantages to a person possessing opposable toes, a prehensile tail, a thin head with bulging independently moving eyes where his ears should be and a skin that changes colors when he gets excited, but honestly, I can only think of one. That would be in the area of reproduction and the question would be, “Who would want to mate with such a hideous looking beast?” For sure that is a valid question, especially among the people of the Middle East and the Bible Belt of the United States whose religions prohibit them from drinking alcohol so that they have precious little experience waking up next to such creatures. Since these are the same people who so passionately advocate the Creationist agenda, I can not help but wonder if there is a connection there somewhere?
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