January 13, 2012
It’s like riding a bike. That’s what they say.
And “they” are the indubitable sages—devisors and promulgators of life lessons couched in simile, the Platitude Poets of Ubiquitous Renown. At best, “they” are the Franklins, the Buddhas, the Christs, and the Reverend Luther Kings; at worst, “they” are the weatherman, the Chandler Bings, the Westboro Baptist Church Signage Committees, and the Congressional sloganeers; and in between, along the They Continuum, in no particular order, “they” are the sane clergy, the banal teachers, the Mohammed Alis, and the fortune cookie Confuciuses.
It’s like riding a bike. They say it of things you’ve done before but haven’t in a while and would like to try again, toot sweet. Riding a bike, for instance. Or, say, a unicycle. Or a moped—though to be honest, once you quit riding a moped, you should probably go ahead and scratch it off your list. Of course, they mean other things (because They are skilled simile-crafters, too, the Half-Wrought Poets of Copious Cud, you’ll be thanked to the recall), like swinging a golf club, for instance. Or, say, a baseball bat.
Or a scimitar—though to be honest, once you start swinging a scimitar, you’d be a fool to ever stop in the first place. Seriously, who quits being freaking awesome?
But you wanna know what is not like riding a bike? Walking. In theory, yes, I can walk for endless miles. In my dreams*, I’m a veritable gingerbread man. But getting up on my two real legs and moving forward in an orderly fashion . . . well, here’s the image: a clumsy foal, still oozing its membranous, uterine sac, struggles to gain its feet; it searches for the right combination of clumsiness and strength which will allow it a brief nuzzle with the exhausted mare before collapsing again—wash and repeat. (Really, momma, wash that thing it’s nauseating us.)
To be fair, my right leg is fine. My right leg could ride a bike any given moment. It would rather eat a cheeseburger but if needs must be then needs must be. My left leg on the other hand, oh it’s a real dolt. Keeps slipping off the pedal, sending the vehicle in goofy circles, kicking back and applying the brakes. (I have switched to handlebar brakes now, see “visuals” page on the right—I’m the old timer with the walker.)
I didn’t think it would take so long to walk with some semblance of walking. After my normal seizures, I’m down for a couple days. I use walls and furniture to get around. A cane if I want to look dapper. (Is dapper achievable in camouflage pajamas and pit-stained t-shirts? Not sure, but a cane is pretty darn smooth. Mine is black and can fold in segments. It’s pretty awesome. Not scimitar awesome, but yeah . . . ) This time, however, after the nine-hour event two weeks ago [!] and subsequent weekend of kicking a man while he’s down (adding insult to injury, as “they” say) good golly, if I ain’t right hobbled. Like a horse. Like a grody foal.
Wash me, momma, then look’a’ me momma . . . All hands!
*A poem I wrote last Autumn apropos of this post.
Reprieve in REM
In my literal dreams, I can run. Can swan-
Dive then swim then hold
My breath and drown. Can resurface
On my own. Can be
On a team, picked first for my capabilities—
Base-stealing, going long.
Can fight for myself, for my family,
Can launch, circle Saturn, survive
Re-entry, parachute, plummet,
Then swim, then hold
My breath and drown. Can afford
To lose hope. Can jog for fitness.