I’m a nervous Nellie. For every fun adventure my kids and husband pursue, I provide words, sometimes monologues, of caution to dissuade them from engaging in any activity I consider risky.
I’ve warned that if they ride a roller coaster, they may fall out. If they bungee-jump, the rubber band may break, and if they camp, river-raft, or hike they’ll be taken hostage by gun-toting felons who lurk in the woods.
My husband says that I’m a thrill killer.
Aside from my outdoor-activity warnings, I also have a repertoire of everyday counsel I force on my family. Some of my favorites include reminders to down calcium for strong bones, never drink and drive, always wear glasses or contacts, and — for Pete’s sake — wear a helmet when biking!
So what happens when I don’t follow my own advice? Most nights, my husband and I take a walk or short bike ride through the streets of our neighborhood. Preston Hollow is built on a simple grid that makes it perfect for these outings.
About a month ago one evening at dusk, I suggested a quick bike ride. It was a simple pedal, so I skipped the helmet and contact lens. Like a pirate, I have one bad eye and usually find an excuse to avoid wearing the one lens. That night I had a glass of wine with dinner, but didn’t hesitate to mount up and get behind the handlebars.
It was a mild evening and I rode ahead of my husband. It’s a rare day when I pump my short legs fast enough to get ahead of him. As we headed down Thackery Street, I realized that part of the street had been paved. The partial paving created a lip that was a magnet to my front tire. Next thing I knew, I was down.
I’ve always been clumsy. I sometimes fall when walking and blame it on a bad heel or new shoes. But, like a gladiator at the Colosseum, I’m back on my feet quickly.
On this night, I was a 5-year-old child deprived of a favorite toy. I started crying, then screaming and refused to move as I lay prone in the road. My face had hit the ground and instantly I made a diagnosis. In a pathetic cry I chanted like an angry protester: “I broke my face, I broke my face.”
My husband, who is annoyingly calm in the middle of any storm, coaxed me into getting up and walking home. It was a walk of shame for four miserable blocks. As I sobbed and intoned, I realized that my wrist hurt, too. Like a Broadway lyricist, I revised the chant and without missing a beat. “I broke my wrist, I broke my face,” played over and over as I staggered home.
A few hours later, it was confirmed that I broke my wrist and four bones in my face. The only pain worse than the one in my head was the ache of regret for failing to follow the simple words of advice that I’d repeated so often to my family.
I’m now on the mend, and while I’ll never bungee-jump for fear of a faulty band, I hope to ride my bike someday soon, this time in daylight, with a helmet and contact lens, but perhaps sans the wine.
This story appears in the August edition of Preston Hollow People, on stands now.