Going Down

May 22, 2008

The other day I saw a guy riding a Segway, which seemed like a pretty good way to get around. With the price of gasoline going up, I’m always looking for alternatives. Gasoline comes in five basic prices: low, normal, high, ridiculous, and European. We’re rapidly approaching the point that everybody regrets buying those monster vehicles that you need a ladder just to reach the brake in and that get approximately 1.7 miles per gallon (on the highway). Bicycles seem like a pretty good idea, but I live in a place with hills, and what goes down must eventually go up. It doesn’t help that I can glide downhill for half a mile and then, after spending a week in the hospital, have to roll my wheelchair uphill. Then there are rollerskates, which would be fine if all the roads were paved with lacquered wood. That wouldn’t be such a bad idea, though, especially if they could put up some disco balls around intersections so people wouldn’t just stop, they’d get out and do The Hustle. But I digress. My only problem with rollerskates is I have no sense of balance. I was always the guy out on the roller rink floor inching along while kids half my height zipped by. That also rules out skateboards. And don’t even get me started on unicycles. Actually I’m not sure how to get started on a unicycle. Does somebody have to hold it for you until you get on and get going? And, let’s face, it, unicycles are a gateway ride. You get started on a unicycle and the next thing you know you’re juggling, and from there it’s just a matter of time before you’re dressed in polka-dotted bellbottoms and a fluffy blouse and fighting mimes for a good spot on the sidewalk.

But I digress. I’ve thought about skiing as a good way to get around, but that would only work in places where there’s snow. Water skiing is out of the question, at least until we can figure out a good way to tilt the surface of a body of water. And snow skiing is out of the question for me anyway because of that whole balance issue. I tried snow skiing once and spent most of the day with both my legs trying to go in completely different directions, except on those rare occasions when I got to the bottom of the hill and could lie down for a few minutes and put my pelvis back in place. And I couldn’t even go on the slope with the cool ski lift, which I thought maybe I could just ride and get a nice view of the area. I had to grab on to a rope attached to a wheel that was designed so it would pull me back to the top of the hill with my butt in the air and my head scraping the ground. Finally the ski instructor told me, "You’re just going to have to learn to stand on your own two feet." Actually what he meant was I was going to have to stand on a couple of strips of rented fiberglass that my feet were locked to. Who came up with the expression "learn to stand on your own two feet" anyway? Who else’s feet am I going to stand on? What I should have done was gotten a surgical saw and said to the ski instructor, "How about I try yours?" Maybe I could just borrow one of his, and then I’d have three feet, which would make a yard. Or I could get twenty-seven feet together and have the whole nine yards. Surely one of them would have a good sense of balance.

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