Thursday, August 30, 2007

Laugh At The One You're With

One of my readers (ok only reader) Mr. Smythe has a story about his lovely wife going on a rough ride.
His story made me think about my own bike story and my wife's reaction.
You see, Tommy loves his wife, and so his reaction was one of shock and fear. However, my wife, though she loves me, instead chooses to laugh when I experience pain.
Maybe it's because she thinks I'm a clown (shut up, Joe Pesci...your career is over).
Back in 2001, my wife and I went to St. Lucia for our honeymoon. Beyond the fact that everyone thought we were nuts for flying (post 9/11 and all), most said, "St. Lucia? Where the hell is that?" One of the activities we could do at the resort we stayed at was called, "Jungle Biking."
The name is exactly what it sounds like: you bike through a rainforest. Very cool, but it has its issues. Namely, those of us who are used to city or street biking are not very good at biking off road. My lovely wife, who grew up in the countryside of Missouri, was used to biking through the forest, so she and the guide were shooting way ahead of me. I could not remember the last time I was on a bike that had two independent brake systems (front and back), so I was struggling.
At one point the trail curved down and around a large rock and culminated with a cross over a small bridge with no rails on either side.
The guide said, "This is easy. Just use your rear brakes to get around the curve and make sure you drop enough speed to stay on the bridge."
My wife had no issues. I was not as lucky.
I shot down the hill and hit the rear brake, but I did it late, so I ended up on the outside edge of the bridge. My rear wheel shot out from behind, and it was then that I realized: the bike was going off the bridge. I kicked down with the pedal and launched myself up in the air. I had no choice. The bike literally went over me...with me still in the seat.
It was a fantastic crash. As my wife would later describe it, they (she and the guide) looked back to see where I was, and they saw a blur of bike and man shoot end over end from one edge of the jungle to the other. I rolled three times and finally stopped when I hit a palm tree.
In the distance, I heard...laughter. My wife was laughing at me. She had no idea if I was hurt or even dead, but her defense mechanism is to laugh at a situation where someone she cares about my have been hurt. The guide turned and stared at her. I know because from my vantage point of the ground I could still see them. His face betrayed his feelings: this woman is nuts to laugh at this.
He jumped off his bike and ran back to check on me.
Miraculously, I was fine. My pride was hurt, I had a bruise forming on my arm (which had hit the tree), and my helmet was full of jungle, but I was ok. Even the bike was ok. It was just scratched up.
When we finished and returned to the shack where the bikes were held, there was a doctor who wanted to check me.
"Are you ok?" he asked.
"Yup." I replied.
"You're damn lucky," he said, "You should thank your angel for protecting you."
"Ok then," I said.
Years later, I can still hear my wife laughing. When my son gets hurt (he's learning to perfect his walking, which means he's been falling on hard things a little bit), she is concerned. No laughter. I fell down the steps the other night, and she was rolling on the floor.
I don't know if it's because she is sure I'm ok, or if because she doesn't know how to react, but it can be disconcerting to hear that laughter.
I'm glad that Tom's wife is ok, and I hope that she avoids all gravel at all costs.
Then again what do I know? I don't always laugh when someone gets hit in the groin. I could be wrong.

1 comment:

Arthur Willoughby said...

Fear not, Leab...Bob Saget did not steer us wrong. Objects to the groin are always funny, no exceptions.

Of course, different people react differently to different situations. I tend to laugh during very stressful situations; meetings, funerals, basically any situation where laughter is horribly inappropriate.

I can understand your concern that the laughter occurs before she's certain there's not a tree branch through your brain, but again...sometimes a person can't control it.

I guess an injury to one's kid is different. A person isn't liable to crack up when their infant is involved; that's too little person to deal with too much danger.

Now that we're through the initial fright, the missus and I have both enjoyed our share of jokes at her injury. She's still in considerable pain and can barely move, but she's alive and will get better.