This is a story about a boy. This is a story about a boy and his bicycle. A story about a boy and his BLUE bicycle, and also his testicles.
Long ago, round about the time I was just beginning the blossoming, burgeoning tour through the pubescent landscape of inconceivable horror, I was very much into sports (baseball, football, street hockey, etc, etc) and along with that I had an indescribable attraction to riding my mountain bike at any chance I could get. There wasn't a day that went by that I wasn't out jumping off mountainous rocks, speeding through valleys and sandpits, or building dangerous obstacles to climb over on my bike. I loved that thing, I felt free out in the hills behind my house doing whatever I pleased on my mountain bike.
One day, much like any other, I was out riding and hopping through the muddied waters of Moss Creek, a disgusting and foul tributary that hoboes often defecated into as they made their way westward toward California or certain death. I had ramped down over the rocky pathways of "Mystery Mountain", a rather large hill behind my neighborhood that a few friends and I had once found a bloody hatchet, and was careening haphazardly toward the flatbottom and the adjacent sand pits that ran under the interstate. I spent the entire afternoon throwing myself down the hill, climbing back to the top and doing it all over again trying to get as far as I could across the creek without pedalling. It was kind of like my own version of the long jump but much cooler because of the threat of injury and illness from the creek water.
After the last jump of the day, just before dark was setting in, I splashed through the creek for the final time and fell over in the now-wet sand that I had been trudging through for the better part of the afternoon. I picked myself up and rolled my bike out of the pit, onto the hardpack trail and began riding home. I lived about a quarter mile from the pits, if you cut behind the bowling alley and the elementary school. I rode along the trail until I reached the fields of the school and ramped over a few boulders out to the street where I began picking up speed on the smooth road. My house was on a street about halfway down the side of the hill the school sat atop and I loved the speed I could garner pedalling franctically and without regard to my own safety. On a regular basis, I could easily reach a cruising speed down the hill of about 22 mph. I know this because my father had a road cycle with a speedometer which I had filched from his cycle and fixed to my own bike.
The wind brushing my face, and the sun setting to my left, I steered out wide coming down the hill to cut the corner onto my street, a move I had done at least 234,569 times before and perfected so as to conserve my speed and not have to pedal all the way back to my house. Fortunately there was never much traffic so I never had to worry about looking for cars. Unfortunately on this particular day, there was a Diet Coke can in the gutter where my tires usual ran smooth through. Rather than change my path and risk having to pedal, I figured my speed and weight would allow me to crush the can with little resistance. I could not have been more wrong.
I hit the damn can at a weird angle as both my bike and myself were at probably a 45 degree angle lean coming through the corner. Instead of running it over and continuing on, my tire knicked the tougher bottom rim of the can tossing it into the air where it got caught in the spokes of my front tire. At the same moment, my foot slipped off the foot pedal and my calf took up residence on the flywheel and the chain pushed down pinning my flesh to the sprocket tines and ripping my calf down into the deep tissue of my gastrocnemius. It looked like this in the aftermath:
But that was not the only injury I sustained, oh no. As my short life flashed before my eyes in the brief second before impacting the asphalt, I became aware that I had separated from my bicycle. My body crashed carelessly to the paved surface at a queer angle, my torso split in twain by the gutter with my head landing in a cactus that the old woman on the corner (who would some years later be my geography teacher in high school) had in her front yard and my leg still attached to the sprockets of my bike. And, as luck would have it, the can that set the whole thing in motion had come to rest in the gutter as well, right where I was coming down. I crashed horrible to the earth and the can was perfectly laid in such a way that it was there to catch my testicles in its tangled, mangled, aluminum death trap. That shit hurt. I felt a familiar twinge as something jagged impaled me, not unlike a syringe.
I lay crumpled in a heap for a moment, not wanting to move for the world was trying to kill me. A car or two drove past as I lay there in agony, writhing in pain that was much intensified from having smashed my newly acquired odds and bobkins full force into a soda can. I finally managed to pick myself up and take stock of what all was mangled, cut, scratched, bleeding, and/or god forbid missing. Everything seemed in tact, just in need of some minor first aid, some bandages, and a bit of ice cream. That was until I looked down my shorts. I had waited to do that until I got back home, so that I wasn't dropping trou in the middle of the street like a pervert. I hobbled into the bathroom down the hall, fully aware that there was a stream of drying blood emanating from within my loins and down to my knee. I stripped down and observed there was a gash roughly an inch long down the left side of my swollen ball sack.
I had no desire to let anyone know about it, who wants to tell their parents they ripped their junk? So like any industrious Boy Scout in training, I stole my mother's sewing kit and patched myself back together again like Humpty Dumpty, or a deranged scarecrow and iced everything to get the swelling to go away so I could walk halfway normally again. To this day, I have never had anything to do with Diet Coke. I won't drink it, I won't buy it either for myself, my mother (who loves the stuff), or anyone else. I harbor deep feelings of hate for the stuff, I often walk through the aisles of the grocery store with a safety pin and poke random cans and bottles of Diet Coke to take my silent revenge.