I was a horrible college student– I was too busy looking up international flights to bother with studying or paying my tuition. When I was 21 I went to Kenya over the summer and promptly decided to change my major from Philosophy to African Studies— because clearly that’s a much more financially lucrative field of study.
This meant two things had to change: I needed to actually start taking school seriously AND I needed a Rhodesian Ridgeback because those dogs are so damn majestic and cuddly and were bred to hunt lions in the African bush. That Autumn I found a breeder and Sars and I took a little road trip to pick up my darling Zola:
For the first four months of her evil little life, Zola would start whimpering every four hours and demand to be taken outside to pee– rain or shine or snowpocalypse. She didn’t care that we lived up a flight of stairs that necessitated carrying her plump little puppy self up and down, and she didn’t care that my renewed fervor for education had led me to enroll in 21 HOURS OF COLLEGE COURSES– one for every year I’d been on the planet.
Between the world’s most active and evil puppy, an ungodly school schedule, and working full time at AT&T I was pretty exhausted at the end of each day– which is why it was easier to just tuck Zola beneath my arm like a football and plod down the stairs when she needed to go out in the middle of the night. For the first time in my life I was sleeping fully clothed because it was an absolutely bitter winter and she’d start howling every time I achieved REM sleep.
One seemingly unremarkable night she did her usual whimpering, I did my usual pretending I couldn’t hear her for as long as possible before finally giving in. Every night I would curse myself for spending $1,000 on a dog that was ruining my life and looking so damn cute while she did it. After popping her tidily beneath my arm, I stepped out onto the apartment landing, and was taken aback by how beautiful everything looked.
An ice storm had hit overnight and though the sky was now clear, everything was coated in a thick and glistening layer of ice. It was absolutely magical to see everything twinkling and shining as far as the eye could see. My Zola-loathing faded as I took in the beauty of the night. The ice, it was glistening! Beautiful! Like a fairyland!
My mind was so full of these fluffy thoughts that I failed to remember that ice is also slippery.
All it took was ONE STEP:
My world ended.
I was in the air.
I was flying– but I was no fairy.
My feet were above my head.
So much glistening, all around me.
I saw my arms extend in front of me as Zola was released into the night, soaring through the air with her ears flapping and paws splayed outward. She let out a series of piercing puppy yelps as she zoomed through the air and I felt a sense of panic at her expensive little airborne body– but then… I made impact.
I heard the sound of my landing echo out across the apartment complex like a sonic boom. There was no air left in the universe and I gasped breathlessly, frozen in a crumpled heap upon the ice. I gasped and gasped for breath and when it finally returned it brought a wave of pain unlike anything I had ever experienced. It felt like a physical presence shooting through my existence and vibrating out of my broken body. Not even when I jumped out of a window and almost bled to death did I feel this level of excruciation.
Zola was still face first in a pile of snow, howling at the insult of being cast down the stairs, not aware that I could have used her as a landing cushion but had selflessly flung her to safety. When I finally regained the will to live I drug myself through the snow and tucked her beneath my arm so we could crawl back up the icy stairs. Somehow, I made it back into my bed– where I stayed for 24 hours…. Because I couldn’t move. There was something very very wrong with my ass.
After a week of limping, sitting sideways on chairs and wincing in the drivers seat, I finally went to the doctor and he confirmed my fears.
I had broken my tailbone.
There was nothing to do but wait for it to heal and take narcotics.
As this was one of those brief moments in my life where I was hardworking and dedicated, I continued attending class and going to work but when the day was over I’d crawl into bed with my laptop and a pile of DVDs. Shortly after this epic fall, I was cowering in the fetal position and watching Transformers through my haze of pain when I realized what was missing from my life:
I loved that junky old Bumblebee before he was magically transformed by cinematic voodoo. Life was full of stress and pain and heartbreak but I could see a way to soften its blows:
The movie had barely ended before I’d taken my medically compromised brain onto ebay, typed in “1976 Camaro” and hit “BUY NOW.” It felt like the best decision I had ever made. Sure, I already owned a Land Rover, had 21 hours of the world’s most expensive tuition to pay for, plus a dog that was so disobedient and rebellious that I would end up sending her to a $1200 dog whisperer, but this seemed like a reasonable purchase.
Plus, cars are way cheaper if they don’t have a functioning engine.
My new orange-ish gold camaro was towed to my apartment that weekend. One of my brothers makes a hobby of restoring classic cars, so he was on board with this random little project– For the next few months we made lofty plans and purchased replacement parts from all over the country but as my fractured tailbone began to heal so too did my ability to function rationally. Zola and I were returning from a walk when I had a moment of realization and came to terms with the fact that maybe I hadn’t made the most responsible decision to buy a car while under the influence of drugs. Much less a car that I had seen on a blockbuster action movie staring Megan Fox.
I had to find a way to undo this decision. My oldest nephew was 7 at the time, and son of the brother who restores cars.
“Hey Cameron, have you seen the movie Transformers?”
“Yeah, it’s so awesome!”
He was obviously a fan of Bumblebee though it took some convincing to make him see the merits of the old clunky version.
“It’s a classic,” I said “You’d be lucky to find one!”
He was young and impressionable and possessed a misguided trust in my opinions.
“Yeah…” he agreed, “a classic!”
I had a reputation to uphold as the favorite Aunt–what was I to do when his birthday came around that year? You’ll never guess what I gave him.
Have you ever made a less-than-responsible purchase whilst under the influence of pain or medication? What’s the worst way you’ve injured yourself or broken a bone? Can we all agree that raising a puppy is the absolute worst?
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