Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The day I learned how to ride a dirt bike.

Let me preface this by saying that I have a giddy, longing interest in small, self-propelled machines, whether they be motor scooters, four-wheelers, snowmobiles, broomsticks or experimental flying machines. 
The only real experience I’ve had on any of these, however, is a snowmobile. And you may remember that I threw out my back after rolling it into a ditch and trying to flip it back over last Christmas. 
Also, every time I go to my girlfriend Christie’s house, I embarrass myself in some way. (Perhaps this little post about me and a faulty pocket door will refresh your memory.) These instances are always avoidable with the help of something that I like to call “thinking ahead” which is not necessarily something that I’m good at. 
[Also foreshadowing.]
It was a beautiful late-August day.  Everything was going smoothly at Christie’s Bon Voyage party, and Christie and I were mingling with her friends and extended family amongst folding tables in their open garage. I was drinking a Pepsi and happily munching on some pasta salad. Her brother was taking the kids on dirt bike rides around their yard. The first time he took off with a kid, the bike jerked forward and a few people around me gasped, but he righted it and drove off. My heart continued to beat heavily. 
[Foreshadowing. Seriously, I should 
have figured this sh** out.]
CHRISTIE: You should try that when he’s done! 
ME: What? No. Not while everyone’s watching.
CHRISTIE: No, it’ll be fine! My brother can teach you! Come on, Brian; it’s a small, self-propelled machine...your favorite...
ME: Don’t try to tempt me. I’m not going to learn to ride it. Besides, your dad’s watching; he already thinks I’m a wimp.
CHRISTIE: No he doesn’t! Well, not anymore at least, ever since you finally gave him a firm handshake...
ME: MY NORMAL HANDSHAKE IS PLENTY FIRM. He just wanted to have a Hand Squeeze-Off, which I wasn’t prepared for! 
CHRISTIE: And, see? Now everything’s okay! 
ME: Still. 
CHRISTIE: Just get on the bike. It’ll be fine, okay? Nothing can go wrong. 
ME: My eye’s twitching involuntarily.  
CHRISTIE: Oh, come on. Let’s go. 

So Christie and I walked over to her brother, who gave me hasty instructions. I have to admit, I began to get pretty excited. 

HER BROTHER: So just squeeze this blah blah blah when you blah blah blah and let out the blah blah blah but not too much blah blah blah clutch gas brake engine radiator. Sound good? 
ME: Sounds great! No helmet or pads, of course.
HER BROTHER: You’re not a wuss.
ME: Damn straight! And I certainly don’t need to know what to do if something goes wrong, especially since I’ve never driven any sort of manual transmission.
HER BROTHER: Of course not. 
ME: Sweet! Here I go, Christie’s onlooking family and friends! I’m about to drive a dirt bike for the first time without a helmet on an inclined blacktop driveway! 
[Every middle school English teacher on the planet just got a strange tingling sensation in their nose. This story has more foreshadowing than To Kill A Mockingbird.]

So I started up the dirt bike death machine, and gave it a go. I squeezed the blah blah blah and let out some blah blah blah and...oh crap...I didn’t listen to anything Christies brother was saying...and the bike immediately jerked forward a few times, and took off like an unknotted balloon. This is what I believe was my trajectory: 

And all I could think about while I flew through the air to my imminent death was:

After my short liftoff, I landed on my side, and slid down the driveway. It seemed as though everything was fine until I realized that the driveway wasn’t, in fact, made out of piles of marshmallows and sweaters but asphalt, to which I had generously donated a few layers of skin on my elbow, thumb, palm, knee, shoulder, and hip. 
And then this conversation happened:

ME: Oh sweet Jesus.
CHRISTIE’S MOM: Oh no! Are you alright?

ME: Yeah, I’m fine.
CHRISTIE: Oh gosh, let’s get you inside.
ME: Ow. I really should have seen that coming. I feel like there were a lot of red flags.
CHRISTIE’S FRIEND: Wow, how embarrassed you must be!
HER DAD: Let out the clutch too fast. 
CHRISTIE: Ooh, those cuts look bad.
ME: No you can’t. I’m going to get some bandages.
HER BROTHER: That’s bone I see! That’s what your elbow bone looks like! 
ME: Nope. It’s not my bone.
HER FRIEND: It’s going to suck to show up at your second interview at church covered in all those bandages...
ME: What? Oh that’s right. Thanks for reminding me.
HER BROTHER: Can I touch your elbow bone?
ME: If you can excuse me, everyone, I’m going to go disappear for a bit. 

And so I went inside and used all the bandages I could find to cover my mutilated body.  When I was bandaged up, my body started to actually understand the fact that I had just been thrown onto a driveway like a bony ragdoll and I began to shake. I grabbed some water and sat down inside for a bit. Then Christie, her siblings, and her dad came in. 

HER BROTHER: Looks like you should have let the clutch out slower.
ME: Yup.
CHRISTIE: No, it’s not the clutch. He should have blah blah blah, then blah blah blah blah. 
ME: Guess so. 
HER DAD: Actually, what I think happened was, he took the blah blah blah and didn’t blah blah blah first, and...
ME: It’s really nice to know that there are so many things I did wrong. Let’s keep talking about it.
HER DAD: Well, you know what they say: Time to get back on!
ME: I don’t think so. 
HER BROTHER: Yeah! Like riding a bike!
CHRISTIE: Ooh, bad analogy. Brian fell off his bike too. TWICE.
ME: I’m so glad you brought that up. 
HER DAD: Let’s go! Back outside to try again.
ME: Thanks, but I’d rather die. Maybe I’ll get back on the bike after some therapy.
CHRISTIE: You can do it, Brian! You just have to take out the blah blah blah and blah blah blah clutch gas brake engine radiator. 
ME: Okay. I’ll get back on if I can ride the bike inside a bouncy castle. 
ME: What part of ‘bouncy castle’ don’t you understand?
CHRISTIE: How about trying it on the grass? 
ME: Bouncy castle.
CHRISTIE: We don’t have a bouncy castle. 
ME: No bouncy castle, no ride. 

And that’s the day I learned how to ride a dirt bike. And by “ride” I mean “immediately and violently crash.” 
I still have a scar on my elbow from last August. If only Mederma could reduce the appearance of emotional scarring as well. 

1 comment:

  1. As your mom, I REALLY shouldn't find this humorous, but I was laughing through the whole thing! (Sorry about that, Brian)