people who scoot

Updated: Jan 23

Hi there. Nice to see you again.


So, I’m reading Miranda Hart’s book, Is it Just Me?, in which she shares gads of severely ego-bruising moments in her life that are painful in the moment but entertaining stories later on, and I can’t help but think, “Wow, James. You need more of those."


Well, my friends, to that I say:

  1. We all have stories.

  2. Be careful what you wish for.


Every time I reach a point where I think, “Huh. My life feels pretty boring lately…” life has a way of reaching in its back pocket and pulling out a rubber chicken. Or, in this case, something closer to a banana peel.


Guys, I wiped out in Hoboken.


Let me rephrase that: I was in a boxing match with a scooter, and the scooter won. (Wo)man down...5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Now, I wish I could say that, because I’m the epitome of grace, this wipe out occurred only because of a perfect storm of circumstances:


  1. This was my first time in the ring with a scooter (and I only recently learned how to ride a bike).

  2. It was dark.

  3. Scooters should come with directions.


However, this was not my first time in the ring.


I’m quite familiar with wiping out. I’ve basically face planted coming out of the subway, my purse flying across the platform. I’ve slipped, full banana-peel style, on ice in Montreal, landing on my side in a heap of snow. I’ve gotten my big toe caught in wide-leg pants and ended up fully on hands and knees on my living room floor. Multiple times. I’ve tripped walking up many a stairs, and I’ve had two bad falls down stairs – once in my teens, when my body could bounce right back, and once several years ago, resulting in friendly banter with the local fire department (the first responders) and an exhilarating ambulance ride to the emergency room. (Aunt Lisa, I know you’ll never let me live that down, so there you go. I handed it to you on a silver platter.)


My most recent wipe out occurred a few weekends ago. My parents were in town, and we were heading back after a lovely dinner out with my sister and her boyfriend in Hoboken. Now, Hoboken recently got scooters, which are the talk of the town. I told Dennis that Leah scoots at every opportunity, so, of course, he wanted to try them out. The rest of us huddled in the blustery cold while he disappeared into the darkness with Leah’s phone to hunt one down on the app. A few minutes later, he scooted back to us.


"Wow!" Leah exclaimed. "They must have upgraded the design! These are so much fancier than the first version!"


When Dennis asked if I wanted to try scootin', I hesitated. After all, I had just learned how to ride a bike. However, I only hesitated for a split second. After all, I had just learned how to ride a bike!!! HECK yes, I was ready to scoot! Piece of cake.


The problem was that I couldn’t quite master the brake handle. The kicking off, the pulling of the accelerator, the whole attempting to balance part of the equation...It was all just too much. While I’m really good at balancing on non-moving objects, something about the whole movement factor completely threw me off. My (rather surprising, I have to say) difficulty paddleboarding should have been a red flag, but my eyes were on the prize, my friends. So, I kept at it. And, rather than using the brake handle, I stopped myself in the way that made the most intuitive sense: elegantly dismounting. Okay, sloppily tripping over myself.


“Umm...that’s an interesting technique!” Leah said, trying to stay positive.


“Should I tell her we’re done?” Dennis said to everyone, after watching me fumble off about six times.


Nope. We weren’t done. I was ox-stubborn and determined, so I kept trying until a dismount went awry, and I stumbled and tumbled hard to my knees, rolling onto my back to avoid getting pinned by the scooter.


Now we were done.


I lay on the ground, looking up at the black sky. All I could do was laugh, but my adrenaline-filled hysteria was quickly broken by the sound of footsteps, the image of concerned faces circled over me, and Dennis’s extended arms pulling me to my feet.


“Okay, that’s it,” he said.


I had to agree.


Ever the brave nurse, he guided me toward a streetlamp to get a look at the damage. I had a pretty impressive gash on my right knee, and what would be some significant bruising on my left one, but other than that, good as new. As Mama searched her purse for a Band-Aid, Dennis wiped my dripping blood with his hand.


“Good grief, it’s not a crime scene!” Leah said, laughing at his blood-smeared hand.


It absolutely was not. I was lucky. In fact, I’ve been lucky a lot. Somehow, none of my wipe outs has resulted in long-term injury. Except for the stairs. I probably slightly whacked my spine out of place for life. Other than that, good as new.


Awhile back, I wrote a piece called people who spin about my short fling with spin classes and, more importantly, the idea that exercise is one size fits none. Some people are spin people, and some people are not. Some people scoot, and some people...maybe shouldn’t. I don’t think I’m giving up scootin’ for good. I see myself getting back on at some point, because unlike spin classes, I still want to be a person who scoots.


We all have strengths. Put me in a gym, and I have a grand ol’ time using the equipment in a variety of perhaps impressively-interesting ways. However, put me in real life, and my body reveals its rather unfortunate lack of ability to, well, move. I could blame it on long and gangly limbs, but Leah scoots, and her limbs are equally as long and gangly, so I'll go with Mama's comment: "She's practiced a lot.”


Thanks, Mama.

I recently read a powerful line from Cora Poage, one of our visiting teachers at IIN:


“When were you most on your knees in your life? What helped you heal?”

Pretty sure she didn’t mean that in a literal sense, but it still pertains.


What helps you heal when you’re (figuratively or literally) down? Where do you go from there?...


There’s no right or wrong answer here, but maintaining a sense of humor helps me a lot. Quite often, that helps me more than anything else. In my opinion, a good cry and a good laugh afterward to dry the tears is pretty much the best way to deal with anything. Of course, it depends how big the fall feels, and how scraped up my knees get as a result. Sometimes the cry lingers for a bit. But, you know, no matter how big the fall, we all have to somehow find our way back up. We have to keep going.


Perhaps the craziest thing about this recent scooter kerfuffle is that, after about two minutes, nothing hurt. Okay, maybe my pride. That hurt a little bit. But nothing else hurt. It’s rather shocking. Then again, is it? Is it because I decided to laugh, assess the damage, and brush it off? My mind let it go, so my body let it go?...Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but I like to think that something like that happened. Life is all about creating meanings, and that meaning suits me just fine.


Coming full circle here: is it just me? Am I the only one who’s ever fallen in embarrassing ways, multiple, multiple times? Am I the only one who feels incapable of not injuring myself on a regular basis? Odds are, no. We’ve all been there and, whether or not we’re people who scoot, we’re all people who fall, and we’re all people who pick ourselves back up again in the best ways we know how.


With that, thanks for stopping by. And please keep sharing your stories – especially the funny and embarrassing ones – because someone (especially me) wants to hear them.

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