(by Randy E. Halprin)
As a kid, I was always prone to accidents. My parents would call me a "klutz" which was a horrible understatement. I was a walking disaster. It was a wonder why I've never had any broken bones. When I was in sixth grade I won a raffle contest at a fall festival. The grand prize was a push scooter and it was all mine. I did everything I could possibly do with it. It easily replaced my bicycle. I jumped creeks, rode down stairs in strip malls, flew down steep hills on dead ends streets and crashed numerous times. Eventually the frame and tires became warped so my father deemed it dangerous and declared it off limits. The scooter sat in our garage collecting dust and eventually became forgotten when I got my first mountain bike on my 13th birthday.
1991 was full of events. I repeated the seventh grade, my aunt Carol died of cancer, and I was flunking classes again. Across the street where I lived had been a vacant lot with the last bit of remaining woods in our neighborhood.Trees covered the lot and lead to a creek and hang out for the kids in the neighborhood. One day I came back from school and noticed a sold sign on the land. I didn't think anything of it until a few weeks later there were men on the lot clearing and cutting down trees. Soon bull dozers would show up to graze the land. Wesley and I were devastated. This had been our place for years. Every day of construction was a stab in our hearts.
Still laying claim to this domain, we would ride our bikes down the freshly paved driveway, jumping, make shift ramps we built out of loose material from the construction site. One Saturday morning our dad was going out grocery shopping. Mom was cleaning up the kitchen and soon would start mopping, while my little brothers were watching cartoons in the family room. Bored, Wesley and I decided we would go out and jump some ramps across the street. In the garage I went to my bike, but noticed the front tire was flat. We had an air compressor mounted to a wall so I tried airing up the tire, but the tire wouldn't hold any air in. I was too big to ride my brothers bicycle and it was off limits to ride our parents bikes, so it looked as if I would have to sit this one out. I was very upset at first, staring at my mountain bike as if the tire would some how magically repair itself when I noticed the forgotten scooter out of the corner of my eye. There was some clutter piled onto it so I began to dig it out. It was always a big scooter, so the frame would be strong enough to support me even if it was a little bent. The tires were flat so I aired them up and the air held, even though the tires were a little warped it still rolled fine. I wiped it down bringing back the shiny blue tint and pushed it out the drive way for a practice ride. A little wobbly, but the sucker rode. "Let's go jump some ramps, Wes!" I cried and kicked my way to the other side of the street.
On the lot we proceeded to build the ramp. We grabbed some loose ply wood and heavy cinder blocks. Placing the wood on top of the blocks. Wesley said he wanted to try the ramp first and it was a pretty good jump. The goal was to out-showmanship each other and even though it was a cool autumn day we worked up a pretty good sweat. Wesley did a spectacular jump and I didn't know how to out do him on that one so I decided to make the ramp higher. Wesley looked at it uneasy about it, but my pride was at stake. No way was I going to be outdone by my little brother. The drive way of the lot was a little steep so I wanted to ride a few laps to gain enough momentum to jump the ramp then I decided to go for it. Whoosh! I was flying. I had to have been in the air for a second or two and with a solid thump, I landed the scooter on both wheels. Seeing the ramp was safe enough, Wes went for his jump. We exchanged jumps for a while and then I declared a grand finale. I gave it all I had, going at a speed faster than I'd gone before. I hit the ramp, but hadn't balanced myself properly. For a second I thought I would crash right on the ramp, but before I could register anything I was in the air – without the scooter! The scooter thudded on the cement while Wesley later joked I looked like superman. I came down hard on the concrete with both hands down to break my fall. My chin smashed down hard and my hands collapsed as my chest hit the floor. "Holy shit!" Wesley yelled. "Are you okay?" For a few seconds I thought I would be alright. I was only banged up, been there done that. As I spoke though, my voice began to shake and I felt like I would pass out. Ironically, the only thing I could think about was how pissed dad would be if he found out I crashed on the scooter. "Yeah… Put my scooter in the garage and throw my bike at the end of the street. I've gotta go inside. I think I'm hurt." I somehow managed to stand up and walked across the street to our house. My whole body was shaking and I had no clue I was beginning to go into shock. Inside, I walked across the kitchen and mom began to yell....
"Get off the floor! I just mopped!"
"Mom, I don't feel too good." I said and collapsed in the living room.
I started to convulse and vomit. My whole body was getting cold. I felt helpless and scared and for a second I thought I might die. Mom ran to a phone and called 911, while my little brothers ran around me yelling, "Call 911! Call 911!" About the time all of this was happening dad showed up. He ran to my side. The para-
medics arrived and they checked my vitals and said I was in shock. They put me on a stretcher and dad climbed into the ambulance with them. Once they gave me a shot and put me on oxygen I started to stabilize and come out of shock. I was taken to the hospital.
Fortunately it was nothing serious. I had a busted up chin and some bruised ribs, but no internal damage or broken bones. I was lucky once again. I don't think mom and dad ever knew that it was my scooter I crashed on and not my mountain bike, as they've probably believed all of these years, but it was one of those moments in my life I felt most connected to my father. The two weeks I was off from school while my ribs healed, it was just him and I during the day time. He'd bring me food or help me change out movies in our VCR. We talked about girls and he'd tease me whenever a girl from school would call to see how I was doing. Every time after that when I'd get into a wreck or banged up he'd remind me how expensive the ambulance ride to the hospital cost and would joke I would have to pay next time. When my father had his first heart attack my priorities were screwed up and while I felt responsible in some way because our relationship was beginning to go sour, I never did show him the love or concern he did for me the day I had the accident.