Ultimate painThirty-five years ago I attended a boarding school back East. One steeped in tradition and history.
Put it this way, one of my math professors taught my dad. And the football team played single-wing football. For those who are not familiar with that formation, basically, there’s no quarterback. We had just gotten rid of the leather helmets.
But THE sport was lacrosse. The Holy Grail. And if you didn’t play lacrosse, then you played Ultimate Frisbee. Think rugby in the air.
The rules were simple. You dropped a catch or got the frisbee knocked down, other team got the disc. Pain was expected. Blood, your victory patch. There were more injuries treated from Ultimate games than all the varsity sports put together, including chess. It was hardcore.
I thought I’d impress him with one of those overhand throws that take a while to master, but look so awesome when you pull it off. I toss and it goes about 10 yards straight into the ground. What the heck? Okay, maybe an underhand spin - clunk. Okay, just a little rusty.
Anyway, I’m slowly getting my grove back and Eldest and I are on the sidelines with that “can I play coach, can I, can I” look and someone has mercy and subs us in. Yeah, time to show these men a thing or two.
And I run up and down the field a couple of times and I’m already breathing a little hard. Just need that second wind I remind myself. And then someone just launches the disc in my general direction ...
Now one thing I was really good at in Ultimate was knowing exactly where the frisbee was going to land. Most people just think general direction and wind. Please step aside Grasshopper and let the Master explain. There are more subtle points: the humidity factor, dew moisture, phase of the moon, gravitation pull and the impact of magnetic infraction from true north.
So, I’m running right toward where the frisbee is going to land and jump. As does an opposing team member. And we sort of collide. The next thing I remember is being flat on my back. And then my head snaps back and just slams into the ground. Apparently, the thump was pretty loud, because three or four guys run up and ask me if I’m okay.
This being Ultimate, we have to keep the lingo going. So asking how I am comes out “Duuuudddddeeeee, u ok?”
Apparently not. Because I start to stand and just sort of roll over. But it’s about no pain, and Eldest and all the guys are watching, so time to man up.
Yes, I overdosed on every kind of pain reliever I could borrow. I knew the next day, Saturday, would be hurt day. So I wake up that Saturday and just pause for a second, waiting for every muscle in my body to explode. And strangely enough, I’m still alive. I have a rather nasty headache, but I am breathing. My solace is that Eldest is a little sore as well.
Later we head home and I inform The Dress of my prowess she’s all “get the ice on it,” “take some more pain pills,” etc. She is a wonderful nurse, provided you do exactly what she says. Otherwise, you are on your own.
I wake up Sunday morning. And I literally can’t move my neck. And The Dress feels my neck and it’s all swollen and she asks if I’m sick, because even my lymph nodes are swollen.
And I reply that I feel fine, other than that whole not being able to move my neck and it feels like someone tried to choke me to death feeling. And she starts laughing, “you’ve got whiplash.”
And she takes pity on me one more time and grabs the mega pain reliever stuff and a couple of ice packs.
Interesting how as kids, we constantly try to grow up - to attempt things we are not quite physically ready to accomplish. As we get older, we constantly try to recapture our youth - attempting things we physically have no business trying.
But life really isn’t about age. It’s about what we do with the time we have. As Abraham Lincoln said:
“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
John A. Winters is as staff writer for The Newnan Times-Herald. His personal blog (Just Flip The Dog) is at justflipthedog.com