Screw You Elvis


How Your Hero Shattered His Clavicle One Bright Fall Day

                I don’t expect this article to be any sort of masterpiece. The oxycodone makes me spacey. The world shifts and twists and blinks out of focus with the rude jabbing of a broken collarbone. It’s two days after the accident and the wound has churned into a purplish yellow mashed banana color and feels as if I’ve stuffed a big fat bratwurst from neck to joint under my stretched skin. The most mundane tasks – walking, breathing, zipping my fly after a tense tinkle – hurt. The more exciting experiences – sleeping, laying down, eating – hurt. I am a pathetic man bound to the couch, surrounded by smelly cats and farting dogs.

The doctors, I’m sure you are wondering, say I have an 85% chance of managing a full recovery without surgery. ‘Trade a bump for a scar,’ was the preferred phrase by my potential surgeon as I sat there in a state of shivering undress, hour four into my ER visit. His nonchalance was some kin to a fantasy football trade. I felt virtual. But the pain was real.

I suppose gone are the days I’ll enjoy the ultimate sexual pleasure: a slow, sensual dual clavicle rub.

*              *              *              *              *

Here is what happened. Graphic, gore, the whole kit caboodle enchilada puppy poodle.

There I was, biking.

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Yes, biking. How many stories ending in a broken bone begin with that simple sentence? At least one, it seems.

So there I was. Biking. Rolling with two wheels, sixty liter backpack strapped to shoulders and bound to waist, helmet nestled snug atop my colossal head, hair flowing free in the autumnal wind. Short shorts, short socks, old running shoes.

My day was a good one – gym, cell phone repair, bike, run, bike, Fleet Feet, cell phone repair, grocery, home. Wham bam.

I was biking to my run out at Reynolda Gardens. The Gardens connects directly to Wake Forest University, and I enjoy running from the Reynold’s (the Tobacco Lord On Earth) extensive park system over to the streets of Lexi and Mercedi and other luxuri vehicles of the young collegiate wealth. Sometimes I’ll run over there just to play guessing games – how many dollars are represented in this parking lot? – or, more often, to see the pretty blonde women cruising around listening to today’s top pop.

I like to think that my appearance, long hair flopping, mustache rippling, sweaty breath steaming offers these poor gals the experience of a lifetime. Gets their heart racing and such. But that just could be my egomania kicking in. Or the pain meds. Who knows? Who cares? I’m not exciting anyone these days anyways, lumpy shoulder and all. Like Igor from Young Frankenstein. ‘What hump?’

*              *              *              *              *

I was singing a theatrical cover to Elvis Presley’s Blue Christmas. Theatrical covers involve a bunch of throaty gargling, and I was getting rather into it. Singing loud, gargling proud. I crossed into the Gardens and hit the chorus.

‘But I’ll!’ I screamed. “I’ll have a blue blue Christ-’

Whump. Crash. Gasp.

A brief explanation: The bike I was riding was a 1990 Panasonic cruiser. When I was a baby Pops used to strap a green foam helmet on me and together we’d ride around the country roads of Lewisville. I was a lot cuter then. After Dad discovered the thrills of running the Panasonic fell into a state of disrepair. Everything on it was wrong. In college I took it upon myself to rehab the poor machine, and believe that I just made it worse. Recently a shifter popped off the tube, rendering it a seven-speed bike rather than a 14-speed. The chain and crank and cables have rusted, the pedal cages broke, and the system shifts gears without my assist on a random, ask-not basis.

Thus it is an unsafe vehicle for any person. But because of its faults no one would want to steal it, which is why I’ve been using the Panasonic as my commuter.

That said, perhaps now you can understand what happened.

I threw my hands up to accent Christmas! At the same time the Panasonic ghost shifted, my feet slipped off the cageless pedals, my front wheel went perpendicular, and I flipped over the handlebars. I fell right on my shoulder, heard a pop, and thought ‘Well. Now that can’t be good.’

I rolled into the grass. I sat there, bleeding, and collected my thoughts. I touched my sore shoulder. I ran my finger along my clavicle. Laypeople call the clavicle a collarbone. How about that. My collarbone angled up from the neck before staggering off a cliff as the bone separated halfway to my upper arm. I found the source of the pop, it seemed.

Now there I was, bleeding and broken, without phone and without a clear thought. I was content to just sit there in the grass and let the world come to me.

Enter Bobby, hero.

Bobby saw the crash and asked if I was okay. I said, um, no.

*              *              *              *              *

Thus began a string of phone calls made while walking down to Reynolda Village, where I hoped to find ice and / or a spare clavicle lying around.

Ma and Pops were coming back from the beach and were hours out of town. Being a product of the technological age I have about three phone numbers memorized – my parents and Insomnia Cookies, who will deliver hot gooey cookies until three in the morning.

Well what a pickle this was.

But calls were made on my behalf. Soon I had a family friend on his way to pick me up. I sat in the sun, cradled my arm, and let my greasy unwashed hair fall about.

Somewhere in the waiting process entered Jill, hero. Jill is my Winston biking buddy. We were planning on taking a trip out to an Amish Bakery that next morning.

Best laid plans, ah ho ho ho.

Jill ran about the Village looking for water and Advil. She came back with two blue pills that could either be Tylenol or Viagra. The thought of wearing a triumphant erection into the hospital wasn’t an appealing one. I took the pills and waited. No erection. Small victories. Story of my life, oh ho, ah ho ho ho.

Enter Dan, hero. He’s my ride. As he helped me into his nice plush sedan I apologized for bleeding onto the upholstery, and then found myself in the Emergency Room. The ride to the hospital was something of a blur. Shock is an interesting thing.

*              *              *              *              *

                This was my first time spending any significant period in the trauma center of the hospital. For that, I suppose, I’m quite lucky. If you’re unfamiliar with the process of dealing with broken bones, let me be your guide. Your experience Sherpa of sorts.

You’re going to spend a lot of time waiting. Various employees from various departments – nurses, physicians, radiologists, surgeons – are all going to trickle in at their convenience. They will ask you the same questions. You will answer them with decreasing patience. They’ll assure you that the next party will be in shortly to move the process along. They’re lying. It will be at least thirty minutes. You’ll hear the word ‘discharge’ bandied about … this is a graphic way to say ‘release you from the hospital’s services.’

You’ll end up excited for the discharge. Horribly excited to discharge. It will become an obscene fascination. A fantasy, perhaps. The XXX, NC-17 pornographic dream to rocket out of the hospital will all the will of your autoerotic programming.

But you’ll just have to wait.

Yes, wait for the X-Rays, the consultation, the meeting with the surgeon and the surgeon’s assistants. One thought I was cute. I think. I don’t know why. There I was – naked except for my 3” split shorts, nipples hard in the cold waiting room, scraped up and still oozing thick gloopy blood, with a pain killer grin, mustache curling everywhere, hair smelling like a grease fire, clavicle bone rounded out as an Appalachian Bald.


I was told to come back in a few days and get another series of X-Rays. This will help figure out if I need surgery. So I don’t know what’s going to happen with me. I imagine it will be a long two month recovery.

All I do know – today, Sunday, two days after the accident – are the following:

  1. Treat your bike well and it will do the same for you.
  2. Avoid the hospital unless necessary. It will suck you in. Suck suck suck discharge.
  3. Blame someone else for the accident. So screw you, Elvis Presley.

That’s right, Elvis. You’re a dick, guy.