Well, I Guess I’m Old Now (or: How I Broke Myself Trying to Impress a Pretty Girl’s Family)

I texted my boss today:

I managed to sprain my ankle pretty badly this weekend. I should be okay to work, but I would like tomorrow off, just in case.

He responds:

Please do. A sprain is no joke, especially when we aren’t 12 years old anymore. Get wel.

And then:

Well

You know, like you do.

This probably isn’t the first time that I’ve sprained my ankle, but it’s definitely the first time I’ve sprained it so severely that I felt the need to run to urgent care. A few hours had passed since the injury, and I was trying to muscle through the pain with the help of a cheesy Netflix martial arts movie and some Little Caesar’s pizza (which I stood in line for fifteen minutes to get) (yes, that means I stood in line on a sprained ankle) (no, it was not worth it) (I mean, how could it be?). After a while, I decided I probably ought to at least wrap the thing up, and I think it was my frustration with trying to wrap my own ankle that finally led me to get in my car and drive to the urgent care, about twenty minutes away.

The doctor was nice. He wore a green scrubs top and khakis, and he had a very strong vibe that said, “As me about my trip to Amsterdam.” We bonded over a mutual interest in the “Yoga with Adriene” YouTube channel, and he joked about charging me hundreds of dollars more than he was supposed to. You know, normal doctor stuff. He did some X-rays to confirm that it was a sprain and not a break, gave me an ankle brace, and wished me luck. Pretty sure the luck was for dealing with the ankle brace. It’s a complicated tangle of cords and velcro that took both me and the nurse poring over the instructions to figure it out.

So I’ve been dating someone fairly seriously, which is incredibly important to the story, because of COURSE me hurting myself involves trying to impress a girl, right? Well, only sort of. See, at this point, we’ve been dating for about ten months, which I think is probably enough time for her to see right through any attempts at flattery. Her family, on the other hand, doesn’t know me that well yet. So this is really about me trying to impress them. Specifically, the two people whose negative opinion of me would put our continued couplehood in jeopardy.

No, not them. I’m referring to her six-year-old nephew and her four-year-old niece.

Saturday night finds me with my lady friend at her cousin’s wedding reception. Her niece and nephew, hopped up on youth and wedding brownies, decided that they were done sitting around and wanted to run outside to play. The girlfriend and I joined them, and we tracked around the grounds surrounding the church where the reception took place, our feet unsteady in the wet grass.

“Boy, this ground sure is soft,” I said, demonstrating a little principle known as dramatic tension.

The game we wound up playing is a popular one among all kids of a certain age. It’s called, “Watch the grown-ups do silly things.” The grown-up in this case was me, and the silly thing was attempting to chop down a tree using a bunch of those long, brown seed pods. You know, these ones:

Darn things are everywhere.

After slapping the side of the tree a few times, the pods would break, leaving me with a comically short stub pinched between my fingers. The kiddos, of course, thought this was hilarious, and I, pleased with the impression I was making, started playing up the comedy by employing increasingly ludicrous wind ups. Truly, a great time was had by all…until I bashed my hand into the tree.

The shock and pain from the impact sent me staggering back a couple of steps, where my ankle decided to do a Gordon Hayward (don’t look that up). My memory of the immediate aftermath is a little fuzzy, but I’m reasonably sure that’s right when my ladyfriend’s parents came out to get us for the cutting of the cake. Which means that they, and the girlfriend, and her niece and nephew, all beheld the exact moment I realized that I’m not a kid anymore.

When I was younger, of course, I’d walk of a rolled ankle like it was no big deal, because it wasn’t. I tried to play it off the same way last night, turning down my girlfriend’s offer to pick up some drugs and an ankle brace from Wal-Mart. I even lied to myself about it (hence the standing in line at Little Caesar’s). Eventually, though, I realized that I no longer have the resiliency of a six-year-old, and so I drove myself to urgent care.

When the girlfriend found out, she was… frustrated, to say the least:

Dude!!!! Why didn’t you call me?? Sheesh, you shouldn’t be driving.

And:

Oh brother. If you weren’t hurt I’d be so mad at you right now. But you are hurt and it’s kind of my fault so I can’t get mad.

And:

Ugh. Men are the WORST.

So there you go. I guess part of the process of getting older is learning to accept help again after striving so hard to be independent for so long. I eventually accepted some help from my parents, who brought me ace bandages and an old prescription for Ibuprofen 800 mg, which is GREAT STUFF.

Seriously, I’m not much for taking medicine, even when I need it, but nowadays, I’m all singing, “Ibuprofen! He be profen! She be profen! We’re all profen! Wouldn’t you like to be a profen too?”*

I even let the girlfriend finally help me – she brought me a pair of crutches, which was absolutely lovely of her to do. I could have saved myself a big headache by simply accepting her help in the first place. Which means.. which means… all that time spent watching Home Improvement as a kid taught me not a blasted thing.

Thanks for nothing, Tim Allen!

===

Apologies to Dr. Pepper.

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