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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Some Splainin'

On the classic television comedy "I Love Lucy", Lucille Ball's character was forever finding herself entangled in some kind of mess. Her husband, Ricky, would more often than not, catch on to her situation and demand in his heavy Cuban accent, "You have some splainin' to do." Well, after a three week slow down, I think it's time for me to do some "splainin".

I love the ocean. As my mother tells it, I was a regular water baby and hard to keep out of the surf, pool, lake, you name it. My preference is for the ocean, though, because I love the waves. When I was in Junior High School, I would take the bus from Queens Boulevard, in Rego Park, to Rockaway Beach on the weekends. I never got into board surfing, but I loved bodysurfing, no doubt for the same reasons that seals enjoy it.

As some people get older, they tend to set aside the fun things of their youth. During my High School years I discovered recreational cycling. I was one of a small circle of friends who pedaled all the time, some of it long distance. My friend Roger and I twice rode from Forest Hills, in Queens, to Orient Point, on the north fork of Long Island. Of my cycling buddies from that period, I am the only one still riding. Roger, I was told, gave up bicycles for motorcycles.

I also never retired my love for bodysurfing. Without the use of a surf board or boogie board, zipping through the water using just my body to navigate is a joyful, almost euphoric experience - most of the time. Which brings me to 3 weeks ago.

On Sunday, August 24th, Hurricane Faye was in the Atlantic Ocean somewhere due south of New York's barrier beaches. The night before I decided I wanted to race my wife to the beach. She would take the subway to the bus and I would cycle down to the beach. We would meet by the Wise Clock.

I gave her a 10 minute head start to get to the subway before I took off. Despite a slight headwind, the weather was perfect for riding. The last stretch before the beach is the Gil Hodges Bridge. While I was crossing it, one of the beach buses passed me by. Damn. Just as I pulled onto the boardwalk my cellphone rang, the voice on the other end said, "I just got off the bus." We got to the clock at the same time.

The waves were huge and coming straight in towards the shore. By high-tide they were breaking about 20 yards from shore and in fairly deep water. Nice. I spent most of the afternoon riding the best body surfing waves of my adult life. Riding most of the same waves was a tattoo-cover man about my age next to me. He was also having the time of his life. At one point he said to me, "My kids are bored and want to go home, but these are the best waves I've ever seen at Riis Park, so they're gonna hafta wait." We must have looked like two overgrown kids. Finally I decided it was time to dry off and get ready to pedal back to Park Slope.

When birding, I tell people that there's always one last bird, so if I'm exiting Prospect Park, I'll stop and look around before crossing the street and going back into the neighborhood. On August 24th, I decided that there was one last wave to ride, turned around, dove through a breaker and waited for the next big one. It came, alright, and I messed up big time, waiting too long to pull out of the break, and got clobbered. I was tossed around like a pair of boxer shorts in the spin cycle of a washing machine, then slammed, shoulder first, into the sandy bottom. I immediately knew something was wrong when I stood up and touched my shoulder. It felt like my arm was hanging down a few inches lower than normal. Then I felt a large bump on my collar bone ... Yes, the adjacent image is my actual x-ray and you don't need to be a doctor to find the fracture. Ouch.

The good news is that I didn't break my neck, the bad news is that I did break my collar bone. Oh well, what can I say except crap happens. For this type of injury there isn't a whole lot, medically, that can been done. I'm supposed to relax, ice it, keep my arm in a sling and be patient. My doctor promised that I should be back to normal (or as close as I ever was) in 6 to 8 weeks. Thankfully, I can still use my binoculars with two hands, but it does get real painful after a while. I need to limit myself and know when to stop and go home. I'm sure that anyone who knows me will likely laugh when they read that "note to self". As for my future in the professional bodysurfing circuit, I think that dream is over, but come next summer, I'll still be out in the surf with one other crazy old man.

I've been birding a few times since my accident and have a bunch of photos and sightings that I'll try and post by the end of the week.

by Rob Jett for "The City Birder"


Samantha said...

Well this explains why I haven't seen you'se guysl! Most definitely - a drink at Ruby's before they close for the season is a fan-farking-tastic idea. Are you running the tour at Tilden this weekend? I tried to get on the list - never heard back..Otherwise let's get it together for coney!

Rob Jett said...

I still plan on leading the tour at Ft. Tilden for the Brooklyn Bird Club this weekend. The trip registrar is: James Cooke, Email james [at] Phone 516-739-0647

Let me know if you have any trouble contacting James.

Bluebird of Friendliness said...

I hope your recovery is quick. That is a killer bruise, by the way. Perhaps the biggest I've seen, in terms of area. Feel better!

Mona said...

sorry to hear that, rob! breaking bones are never fun. i'm glad it wasn't something more serious. i've been thrown a few times in the waves and even though i 've been a competitive swimmer my whole life, i always forget man v. water, water always wins.

M.Thew said...

Heal it up in a global style, Rob, as the kids said circa 1999.

Yojimbot said...

Do you need a rehabber Rob ;)

Rob Jett said...

Not yet. On Tuesday the doctor said I need another 3 weeks before I can start flapping my wings.

Brenda from Flatbush said...

Hey, I haven't checked in in awhile...belated 'get well soon'...try to resist premature wing-flapping!

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