Ever since I told the story of my brush with death which I'm just now renaming "Mikes first taste of REAL power", I've wanted to tell more in a similar style. I have led an interesting life and I occasionally come into contact other people who have led interesting lives too. So I am starting a series. The first of this series is going to be the aforementioned post, it's just too classic not to.
Let me tell you a tale is a series of stories told by Mike Minutillo about the various antics from his life. Some of the characters will have been changed in order to protect the innocent or to make me appear more colorful as a human being. Some of the events will have been changed to increase their comedic value.
This particular story has me returning from my weekly trip to the local library on my shiny black mountain bike one April afternoon in the spring of 1990. I loved those trips to the library. I would look at books, borrow books, and look at some more books. I was allowed to take six with me, and I always did, even if I had no chance of reading them all in the week before the sensual draw of the place would call to me with it's sirens song of silky, yet dusty pages once more.
I cannot remember exactly what I had taken out that day. This was possibly because of events yet to be disclosed. Or it might have been due to the fact that my face had been surgically enhanced with two and a half thousand dollars of surgical steel within the confines of the previous week. Yes, way back in 1990, I had buck teeth that bugs bunny would have laughed at and my parents along with my orthodontist had agreed, it was time to clean up Stonehenge.
Side note: Given the kind of person that I was and given that my braces limited my sporting activities even further than my personality did, I think I can hazard a guess at the books which I had borrowed. I think that half of the bag on my handlebars would have been made up of the audio book collection of The Lord of the Rings. Not the BBC version, this was by a company named Jabberwocky. If anyone knows where I can get my hands on these, please let me know. As for the other half, I can guess at those as well. I would say that one would have been the hardcover version of Advanced QuickBASIC 4.5 Techniques. Another would have to have been the only star wars comic that was at the time included in the canon. The final title eludes me but I think it was one of the Thomas Covenant books or something.
I had braces and they hurt. Whoever had decided to install the cheese-grater into one of the more sensitive areas of my body could have apparated right there and then and I would have begun toasting marshmallows on him and broken into my favorite verse of Kumbaya. I realise that thus far this doesn't seem to have any real bearing on the story. What could a bunch of nerdy books and some young greasy nerd with a face full of metal and a BMX bike have to do with each other anyway? I'm getting to it I promise.
As I pushed my bike to the very limits I was overtaken by some wise-guy who, I think you would have to agree, was obviously cheating. I first saw him sneaking up into my blind spot when I glanced behind me to check on the creepy sensation that death was stalking me. It turns out that he wasn't (or so I thought at the time) but this other guy was. There's no way you're going to get past me buddy, I thought to myself, and began to pump the pedals furiously to ensure my inevitable victory. But he kept coming, inching closer and closer until finally, he goes sliding gently passed me with a stupid triumphant yet maniacal grin on his stupid face.
I kick down even harder on my pedals, determined not to lose to this guy but I just don't have the strength to beat him. You see, my aggressor had changed into second gear and was already pulling away from me in his Mazda 323 Station Wagon.
At this point I had built up a fair whack of speed. The wind is whistling through my shiny new braces and it's making a low thrumming sound as it does so. I don't feel the need to apply my brakes as I've got a ways to go yet and I'm on a flat bit of road anyway. Or so I thought.
So imagine my surprise when my front wheel hits a pothole. Because of the speed my bike is travelling, the front wheel comes out of the pothole with so much upward momentum that my bike does a huge wheelie. For a second I think this is really cool and that once I get home and change my pants I'll have an awesome story to tell about the time I went most of the way along Jacoby Street on just my back wheel. I'll be the coolest kids in school. Even if I spend my lunch hour studiously typing arcane inscriptions from my QuickBASIC tome into one of the schools brand spanking new computers.
Then, out of the corner of my speed-streaked tear-streaming left eye, I see something which leads me to believe I may need to burn my pants and not just change them when I get home. The front wheel of my bike is rolling happily away into the gutter on my left and I'm now pulling a mono of doom, travelling down the road on the worlds most unbalanced and uncomfortable instant unicycle with no warning and very little training.
Eventually the inevitable happens and the forks of my bike strike the road, twisting mercilessly and I'm doing the ever-classic BMX-Asphalt-Pole-Vaulting maneuver, flying straight over the handlebars and out into space. If any of you has been in a similar situation the you will appreciate it when I say that, at that point in time when my eyes were level with the kitch little bell, I was instantly transported into some higher dimension where I could watch the proceedings over the period of three or four years.
My first thought is of course for The Lord of the Rings. I do NOT want those tapes to break or I'm gonna have some explaining to do when I wake up from the coma right? My second thought is for the phenomenally expensive piece of medieval torture equipment keeping my lips from interfering with anything but my ragged nerve endings. While I'd be happy for them to go, I'm pretty sure they'd take my lips, gums and tongue with them.
So as I sail majestically through the air, at a speed which Keanu Reeves wishes he could have matched when dodging those bullets in The Matrix, I twist myself sideways to avoid expensive and probably painful damage to my braces. Once I was in position those crazy people who control the universe, no doubt inspired by the Wachowski brothers films, flipped the universe back into normal speed.
I smack into the road shoulder and forehead first and then go to a quiet dark place for a little while. I later found out that I had 6 stitches and a cracked collarbone. The Lord of the Rings survives a few minor scratches but was, years later, chewed by my cheap Walkman. My braces were fine. I mean they still hurt but no more than before the accident. The bike was never the same again. Possibly because I only ever took it out of the shed except to kick it and throw it around the yard.
If anyone ever asks me this is the reason for my aversion to two things. Aversion #1 is getting on a bike of any description. I don't care if it's an exercise bike and it doesn't have a front wheel. I'm not taking any chances. Aversion #2 is hand-stands. My doctor told me to stay clear of handstands with a broken collarbone for a while but he wasn't specific to exactly how long a while that should be. Needless to say, I'm not taking any chances there either.
And that is my Tale. If anyone has any comments on content or style please leave them here. If anyone wants to comment on the stupidity of not checking the bolts on ones wheel before taking the weekly library trip, you can also leave them here. If you want to criticise my choice of literary exposure you can bite me. Hard.
P.S. I apologise for the previous post about my cat. As I had surmised, they are never as funny to other people as they are to the owner of the cat. I hope this tale of wonder and idiocy will more than make up for it.