Something bad was about to happen, like a vicious barf or a sudden case of vertigo. And whatever it is was rising up and around me, poking me, teasing me, devaluing me, its presence was felt long before it made landfall.
The very second I reached for my golf bag from out of the trunk of my car, I knew I had severely pulled a muscle in my lower back. And I knew it was going to be a haul before I felt like myself again.
Moses, I wasn’t even pulling the sticks out to play the damn game. I was in my driveway, not at a golf course where beauty awaits – beauty and humiliation. I was just trying to kill some time on a Sunday, that’s all. Figured, be productive and tackle the obliteration in the trunk of my ’07 Camry. Give Monday a good clean look. Rid myself of anything that left me long ago.
First thing I did was reach for the bag. It was the biggest thing in the trunk, covering up a bunch of CD cases by local artists, jumpers, a pair of stretch jeans, a tie iron, a biography on Bono and three warm cans of Bud Light.
Without quite making it to the nylon handle on the golf bag, my back began to seize. I froze, knowing exactly what was about to take place. With the slightest of movements, the stabbing pain would begin. I’ve been here before and it’s never pretty. My face will contort, my shorts will fall from the waist, my belly will protrude, my ass will flatten, my hunch will resemble that of a victim of scoliosis.
Oh, and the sulking. Lots and lots of sulking.
And then, like a vice clamped around the base of my spinal cord, the torture began.
At first I pretended not to acknowledge the pulled muscle that was about to own my days for a good two weeks. But then, her power overtook me and soon I was buckled over, inching my way to the backdoor and into the house. Breathless, I summoned what was left in my lungs and let out a wail in the kitchen that echoed that of a man being buckshot in the crotch.
When you blow your back out, everything changes. How you sit, eat, watch TV, slide off the couch, pee, shower (I do both at once), dry off, pull on your socks, get out of your car, and, good Lord, if your libido starts to itch (as it often does), make love.
Good luck in that department.
Right into Monday, I was a disaster. Bludgeoned with pain, I could barely work my route. Hop-scotching from one town to the next, driving and winching, I managed to fight back tears as I pleaded with a dozen gatekeepers to let me in.
I pleaded to an older woman behind a glass partition. “Look at me, Ma’am! Look at me! I’m a broken man. Please, please just ask the doctor to initial and date this. Please.”
Then the pain became too much. The Advil wasn’t taking hold. The salt baths never happened. The hot oils and creams, nothing. I begged the Gods for comfort. I tried to drink the pain off. I put on a Kerouac documentary and fired back a few. No good. Then a Bukowski documentary. Better, but still, no good. Nothing was working. All I could do was not move.
I called in the professionals.
To a local chiropractor, I went. Oh, baby, this guy worked me good. Lying on my side, on a table, he told me to take a deep breath, and then he stock blocked me in my lower back. Pop! He unblocked something. Then he laid into the knotted muscle throughout my buttocks and I moaned in pain, ready for this approach to end.
I felt better for a short while, but then the hunching returned. The stabs, the sudden yelps, the grotesque posture fit only for a gimp. I’d had it with this moment in time. I wanted my body back. And I didn’t want to spend $125 each time I tried to obtain it.
So, I went to the place where every answer to all our problems can be resolved: The Mall.
For some reason, maybe out of delirium, I remembered the mall has those massage chairs, the ones near the food farm. I love those chairs, and for $1 you get a three-minute, muscle-ripping roll out of balls leaning right into the accused knots and tears.
Two bucks and six minutes later, I stood up and felt better than I had in days. This method took. Hunchless, I sashayed my way out of the mall, shining like a new diamond.
Two days later, I returned and did another round of six minutes and a day later I was back to normal. All for $4. No jive.
Why do I bother tell you all this? Because, whatever it is poking and teasing you, tempting you into believing that this moment in time will never pass, that your ills won’t ever be cured, that your days will remain dark and brooding – well, they won’t. Like all things, “this too,” as they say, “shall pass.”
Man, basically, it’s just good to be back.
Rob Azevedo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His new book, “Notes From The Last Breath Farm” is available at Amazon and The Bookery on Elm Street.