I did something idiotic on Saturday night…
Having finished my column for the paper the night before and being psyched for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, I invited a few people over to ride the Scout Ramp in my office before the game.
A couple of hours into the session, I broke my board in half doing a trick called a “disaster”, which involves popping up, doing a 180 degree turn in the air and slamming the flat, middle part of the deck down on the steel coping before re-entering (see below for a video clip from the day). It is by no measure a trick that I’d classify as “dangerous”. It’s actually pretty basic; something I’ve done over a thousand times. Still, I’d never before broken a board while doing one.
My first mistake was not recognising that as a bad omen…
Since we were all in the middle of having fun and there were still plenty of time before the puck dropped, we drove up Main St. to a skateshop for a brand new deck.
New boards require some getting used to, so I prudently chose the exact same one that I’d just broken to ensure an easy transition back to form. With it duly assembled, we sped back to my office, purchasing a six pack of 5.5% refreshment at Electric Owl along the way.
A couple of others joined us at this point, including my brother, Alex. The skating was fast and intense. It’s great having a ramp in one’s office, and we were taking full advantage. The tunes were loud, the beer was cold, and the new board felt exactly like the old one. I didn’t feel like I had to take it slow in the least, and I didn’t.
Soon, it was time to head over to our local bar in the Patricia Hotel, where dozens of friends and folks from the DTES regularly gather to raucously cheer on the Canucks. So we skated over – not a little stoked on the both the session and the game to come.
“We should skate again after the game,” my brother suggested as we plonked down in front of the TV.
“Absolutely,” I said.
“Let’s go easy then,” he replied. “One beer per period.”
It didn’t exactly work out that way. As you might recall, Game 2 was a nail-biting bitch. We got into pitchers instead of individual sleeves and quickly lost track of our consumption. By the time overtime started, I was not in any shape to be skateboarding a ramp, even a tiny one like mine, and when Burrows scored 11 seconds in, my rational decision-making self had morphed into an irresponsible fool. “Let’s go skate!”
Six of us – me, Alex, Russ, Hairjay, Mark and Kyle – went back to my place, but not after picking up some Kokanee king cans somewhere along the way. Michelle and our boys had gone to watch the game at her parents’ house, so what the hell? To borrow a line from Rick James, “it’s a celebration!”
About an hour into the session, I remembered the “disaster”; the trick that had broken my board earlier. That would be cool to try, right?
As I went for it, the farthest thing from my mind was the mint condition of the underside of my board. On account of it being brand new, it was as slippery as a banana peel.
I slid along the coping like a rocket. Fine. It’s a trick in its own right (it’s called a “lipslide”), so despite the immediate shock of movement I tried to maintain control and land it.
I shouldn’t have done many things that night, but I really shouldn’t have done that. An instant later, I was lying on the flat-bottom, writhing in pain, clutching at my ankle.
“I don’t think so,” I moaned. I tried to get up but couldn’t put any pressure on my right foot. “Shit!”
“Dude, just sit out for a bit. Take it easy.”
I crawled to the couch next to the ramp and lay down. Someone brought me a beer. The skating continued. Alex was pulling out blunt to fakies, Hairjay was stalling backside smiths and Russ was slashing frontside grinds. I just watched and tried not to move.
“It’s probably just a twist or a sprain,” said my brother, looking down at me from the platform before dropping in on the ramp again. “It’s nothing, man. You’d know if it was broken.”
That rang true. I definitely knew the last time I’d broken something while skateboarding (my shoulder, 22 years ago). I cried like a baby in drama class, my legs flopping like dying fish. This thought relaxed me a little. I may have been in a lot of pain, but I wasn’t in tears or histrionics. “Yeah, ” I told myself hopefully. “It’s just a sprain.”
The session continued for another hour or so, after which I was helped up the stairs and installed on a different couch. Someone elevated my foot and sandwiched it between ice packs. My brother brought over my iPad so I could watch my favourite show. Someone handed me another beer. With my wife and kids gone for the night, I’d sleep here for the night.
When the alcohol wore off at 3am, the pain manifested so unbearably that it woke me up. I considered a bourbon cure, but my liquor cabinet was out of reach across the room. So I just lay there, helpless, drifting in and out of consciousness, replaying where I’d gone wrong in my woozy head whenever I could string enough coherency together to muster one thought: If I’d only just stepped off…
My super-patient wife picked me up in the morning and took me to the emergency room, where I was wheeled next to another skateboarder with what appeared to be the exact same injury. An hour later, there was a doctor in my face, shaking his head. “I’m afraid it’s broken, Andrew.”
He showed me the x-rays, which showed what appeared to be the bottom of my tibia snapped at the medial malleoullus (the ball part where it meets the ankle). “I’m referring you to a surgeon about possibly getting a plate put in”, he continued, “but in the meantime, let’s get a splint cast on you, some crutches and a prescription for the pain.”
I looked over at the other skater. “Mine’s just a sprain,” he smiled. “Tough luck.”
I find out about the plate next Monday, but either way I’m out for much of the summer. I can still write though, and I’ve since been learning to do it while lying down under a cloud made entirely of Tylenol 3’s.
Anyway, that’s the story. If there’s any moral to it at all, it’s that you should always do what you love. If, however, you love doing more than one thing – like skateboarding and drinking beer – it’s probably best not to do them together.