Moments after Abbi snapped a staggeringly adorable photo of Ethan and me, I was crumpled into the fetal position at the bottom of a slide.
Yesterday afternoon — a beautiful, clear, crisp fall day — Abbi and I met Chris, Jen, Ethan and Edward at Hippo Playground in Riverside Park. Initially, Ethan was suitably distracted by the monkey bars. Soon enough, though, his attention turned to the slide. And Abbi. He was beside himself with joy, so much so it was practically fanaticism. He was laughing and screaming, running up and down the ladder with Abbi like it was their last day on earth.
Abbi’s no dummy. She knew I wanted in on the fun.
“Do you want to slide with Uncle Benjamin?”
Ethan stopped in his tracks and began clapping.
“Uncle Benjamin! Uncle Benjamin! Uncle Benjamin!
I would toss myself from the top of the monkey bars for that sort of enthusiasm. Which is practically what happend.
We slid down the slide together a few times, whooping and hollering, then chased each other up the ladder and did it all over again. He played like he was pushing me, I played like I was falling. Which is, apparently, how I slammed my knee cap into the side of the slide.
One eye witness, who was snapping photos at the time, retells it thusly:
You were at the top of slide playing with Ethan and attempting to do slide tricks like turning over on your stomach as you slid down. The rubber of your sneaker got caught, and your leg — from your knee to your foot — got jammed, width-wise, between the sides. You banged you knee against the side, tore a couple of layers of skin off, and came to a stop. Then you flopped off the slide onto the ground.
Adding insult to injury (or, as it were, injury to injury), the metallic sides of the slide where rippled where it flattened out for a landing. That — and the soles of my sneakers, and the impossible geometry of a long leg in a short space — is what brought me to my painful stop.
It felt like someone had slammed a hammer into my knee cap. But Ethan was right there, and I didn’t want to freak him out, so I popped right up, and tried to walk it off. But I knew I was messed up. I knew my marathon was in jeapordy. I spent the balance of the day icing me knee in front of the TV.
This morning was the Staten Island Half Marathon. All week long I joked that it was no big deal. “We’re gonna go out and party,” I said, “Then run the half.”
I knew I was in trouble within just a few steps of the start. The pain was extreme, shooting up the center of my knee cap and trhough my quad. I stiffened my leg, pretecting my knee from impact. By mile three I was dragging my right leg behind me like a dead appendage. By mile seven, the sole of my sneaker was scrapping on the pavement. My left leg was doing all the work. My right was full of tension, exacerbating my already irritated IT band.
Abbi, to her credit, kept encouraging me to walk it in. But I refused. As long as I started, I was going to finish.
At mile eleven I told Abbi, “Yunno what? I don’t even feel it anymore.”
Nearly twelve hours and three ice packs later, I feel it. I think I’ll make it, but the marathon’s still in doubt. We’ll see. Meantime, I’ll take those playgrounds more seriously. They’re career enders.
Still, I love The Kid, and I’d do it again. Well… maybe.