I’m thirty-nine years old and I still think of myself as twenty-something. I have a feeling this is what the old saying about being “young at heart” hints toward. As a result of my still feeling young, I sometimes drag my hulking frame out onto the basketball court and try to keep up with the young bucks.
Until the last year or so, that was no problem. But I think that approaching-forty thing isn’t just about it being a nice round number. I think there’s more to it.
Last night, while nursing two calf muscles that were about to cramp, I broke to the basket and left my defender behind (no easy feat nowadays). After playing regularly for the past few weeks, I had gotten to the point that last night, I told myself I was going to start giving it the old college try (neither here nor there, but once when I was twenty and in college, I was in the best shape of my life and dunked the ball on a real college basketball goal. Of course, being me, I pulled a groin muscle and never tried again but that’s another story for another time).
So I broke to the basket and had a split second where a teammate drove down the middle. He saw me and rifled a pass to me under the basket. I should have easily caught the ball, but I didn’t.
It was thrown perfectly and when I tried to catch it, it popped out of my butterfinger hands. I felt something amiss so I stopped moving and looked at my hands (as all great athletes do when they flub a catch).
The pinkie on my right hand was staring back at me, wrenched out of its middle knuckle at a 45 degree angle (see simulated photoshopped picture). I’m pretty sure I screamed, and the thought, “I broke my finger,” passed through my mind as I grabbed the pinkie with my left hand and tried to straighten it.
Actually, I grabbed my whole hand and squeezed the fingers together to straighten them all. When I looked at my fingers two seconds later, they were all straight and I could move all of them just fine. I thought, “Did that just happen?”
I looked at a guy on the sidelines and he said one thing, “Dude, you’re shaking.”
Then I knew: I had indeed dislocated my pinkie. It looked just like when some thug does it in the movies, only with me, it was for real.
I grabbed my things (the guys on the court werel still playing) and announced, “I’m gone. I gotta get ice on this.”
I went home, popped a Vicodin for the pain I would inevitably feel, and iced my finger down for the rest of the night.
The pain is there today and so is the major swelling. I almost put mustard on my pinkie and took a bite.
Today’s lesson: I’m getting older, and fatter, and I don’t care. I stuffed two shots last night and went 2 for 3. I was called “Larry Bird” and “Magic Man” and to a guy, sports are more than just exercise. Sports are acceptance.
Yes, I will return to the court and yes, I will get hurt again.
And I’ll love every minute of it.
For the record:
- I haven’t dislocated my left shoulder in a while so I think this was God’s way of letting me off the hook.
- It’s about time to pass another kidney stone.
- I have a mysterious bump between my eyes that looks like a mole but wasn’t there ten years ago. I will be seeing a dermatologist after much urging from family members.
- I do have an appointment on the 21st with an Orthopedist because I believe my left leg is about a 1/2 inch to an inch longer than my right. As a result I walk in circles a lot. That last part is a joke, but not the first. I really do think it’s longer than the other and it causes me much pain. For instance, I have trouble going to my left on the basketball court, and taking pride in my moves, that makes me feel pain. Plus, if I do make that move, it really IS painful and I usually end up doing it slowly while the defender steals the ball right out of my hands.