I grew up in a gentler time when my parents could smack the snot out of me with impunity. Mom even went so far as to say that she liked using a wooden spoon because it “stung really good without leaving a mark”. Most muggings are not thought out so well. She needn’t have worried, since to this day it takes an anvil, a cliff, and an act of God before I show any sign of bruising.
I put that formula to the test when I got the opportunity to go cavorting in the woods a few weeks ago; and by cavorting I mean, slipping on wet rocks, tumbling down muddy hills, and getting clocked in the face by an overexcited dog. Without any sympathy-generating contusions from my weekend of self-destructive abandon, I was forced to indulge in some self-pity. It was about that time that I happened to tune in to the Olympic games.
There was cute little Lindsey Vonn skiing down a sheet of solid ice in spite of a painful injury to her shin. In her place I would have:
a. Fallen as I was getting out of the gate
b. Tried to turn back before the first turn
c. Needed an airlift off the mountain after the first turn
Just watching the pounding that she took on her wild flight down the mountain made my teeth hurt. If my osteoporosis and I ever attempted to win any athletic competition, I’m pretty sure that it would qualify as an act of God, and I would have the bruises to prove it. I couldn’t even manage to walk a dog without breaking my shoulder in three places.
I’m petitioning the Olympic Committee to add competitive dog walking to the summer games. Athletes would have to walk their English Mastiffs through a gamut of small yappy dogs, baby strollers, garbage trucks, and mailmen. I don’t have Lindsey’s stoic nature, so no medal could tempt me to enter the 5 Kilometer Mastiff Marathon. Nevertheless, on my reckless weekend trip I decided to go for the gold.
As research for a mystery that I’m writing, I went to a small town built over top of an abandoned gold mine. My goal was simple: I wanted to visualize the setting for my new book. If I just happened to strike it rich in the process, I would have to find a way to cope. I tried panning for gold in Hard Labor Creek, where I managed to do a passable fanny flop on the wet boulders littering the shore. What I got out of it was a soaking wet spot on the seat of my pants, a banged up shoulder, and a 5.2 from the Russian judge.
The next day the search was on for a mine entrance. I had my new rock hammer and a gold map; and I was itching to use them. The mines, which were marked by a gold colored blob on the map, had no corresponding colored blobs in the woods.
In spite of my bad habit of developing crippling muscle spasms when I vacuum the rug or dust the top shelf of the bookcase, I put out an Olympian performance of tenacity in reading the map and driving around the countryside. I was losing daylight and running out of hope of finding a mine. I had hit the wall. Drawing on some unknown inner reserve, I looked instead for a feasible location for my book’s murder scene. I needed public access land in a National Forest, a hill, and a trail.
I found the ideal location and sauntered three minutes up the trail before running across four gold mine shafts. I even picked up a rock that had flecks of gold in it. If you’re thinking “fools gold”, keep it to yourself. I don’t want anyone bringing me down from the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat.
I may not have any bruises to show for my misadventures, but I think Lindsey would be proud of me just the same. I trained and sacrificed all day for the gold. You may play the National Anthem now.