A few years back, when I lived in St. Paul, I had instituted, with fair to moderate success, the good habit of biking to work on Tuesdays.
My bike was the bike you see above. They're not exactly lightweight bicycles, those 1970s-model Schwinns, and mine was in far from pristine shape. But it did the job for my eight mile round-trip commute.
On this particular Tuesday evening, as I approached the last major intersection, just two blocks from home, a quick decision was in order: hurry up and pedal, or play it safe and wait for a looooong line of cars to pass. Hurry up I did. I jutted across the intersection and flew at the tiny one-inch ramp that would transport me from the dangers of the asphalt onto the safety of the sidewalk. Except that tiny ramp and my front wheel had a bit of a disagreement.
My bike pinned me to the sidewalk like a linebacker, but didn't stop there. I was dragged a good three feet across the concrete leaving a trail of skin.
My uuuuunderweeeear!!! (I had worn a skirt to work that day) was all I could think about—a gracious distraction from the pain. Three people were running to help me. My legs and arms were wrapped around the frame somehow, immobilizing me. My underwear!!! My upper body was dangling three inches above the sidewalk—my faaaaavorite shirt hung up on my handlebars. An old man fumbled with the buttons on my shirt to release me. His hands were shaky and he apologized profusely. The woman pushed him out of the way, took over, and ripped my shirt open. My body fell to the sidewalk with a thud. My shiiiiiirrrt!
Once they got me sitting up, the three good Samaritans ran me through a few cognitive tests and I assessed the carnage; it was pretty dismal. I discovered that the old man with the fumble-y hands belonged to the driveway I'd just been scraped across. He insisted on having me inside to help me clean up.
Gingerly mopping at my arms and legs where once there had been skin, I sat at a large dining room table half-pretending to sip from the can of Busch lite that had been forced upon me. The entire apartment was bare with the exception of the table and a few chairs. The man's roommate came down the stairs. He was also in his 60s. He was a vision of deeply bronzed leather skin: shirtless with a long, grey Steven Seagal ponytail that ran down to the waistband of his Girbaud jeans. The man who had helped me on the sidewalk told his version of my crash and then came to this part:
"Man her shirt was caught up on her handle bars and she was just hangin' there and I was trying to help her get down and I looked down at my hands you know and I'm tryin' to help her with her shirt but I say to myself, man what are you doing!?" He turns away from me—a lone, injured, disoriented 23-year-old in a giant, eerily bare house with two complete weirdos, late at night—and towards his roommate, and asks, "I mean, can you imagine? With my record!?"