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Personal Injuries

By Scott Funk

Hate to sound like bragging, but I’ve become a master of personal injury. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t discover some new ailment. A few hours of raking can net me a backache for the rest of the week. Reaching for a jar on the top shelf can strain a shoulder. Almost slipping can make something hurt so much I can hardly hobble up to the bathroom for an Epsom salt soak.

It wasn’t always so easy; I used to have to apply myself. I’ve fallen off mountains, out of trees, over moguls. I’ve slipped, slid, or bounced about in innumerable ways without inconvenience. Of course, that was south of 60. Something happened with the big 6–0 that changed things. As I added wrinkles, I shed elasticity. The former crept up and the latter I didn’t notice until my cane collection grew. It’s been downhill ever since, but it doesn’t take a quick descent to cause a problem now.

That’s the value of experience. It appears the more injuries one suffers, the easier it is to have more. What used to take considerable effort and drama, can now be accomplished by turning slightly while descending the stairs. Twinge goes the knee and I’m explaining a limp, “Oh, nothing. ’Happened on the stairs . . . no, not a fall, just came down the stairs and took a left at the bottom.”

It’s like a new version of that old hit, “Born to Be Wild.” Except in this song, living dangerously is gardening without warming up first or betting it all on an extra dessert after nine at night. Take for example Italian food — who knew it was haunted? I do now, after a visit from the ghost of dinner past woke me at 2:00 in the morning for a lesson on the consequences of too much linguine. Talk about a fatal attraction.

Forget about alcohol; how did soda become dangerous? We are just talking bubbles, but it’s bubbles on the way down and now, bubbles on the way up, which wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the unpredictable nature of their arrival.

No, I’m not giving up without a fight. There’s a shelf in the bathroom with so many liniments it looks like we’re keeping a racehorse. We buy Tums® by the crate and my new after-dinner cocktail is that pink-peppermint-y stuff over ice. As The Great One, Jackie Gleason, said of the good life, “How sweet it is.”

Scott Funk lives, works, and writes (and gardens) in Barre, Vermont.