What does the world cost? Oh well, then we'll just take a small coke.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Day I Smashed My Proboscis

I have promised, somewhere in the annals of CN past, to tell the faithful few more about my nose. The exact wording was that it would be a “great topic for another post.” As is my habit, I had completely forgotten about that pledge and was ready to write today about the beauty and grace of undersea turtles, when I was violently reminded of my commitment.

By violent, I mean Hoss sucker punches Little Joe not Brad Pitt and company in Fight Club. You guys have plenty of reasons to be worried about me, but violent rages are not one of them.

Anyway, I was playing basketball yesterday at the gym and taking on the local Arab community which apparently sees hoops as a cultural passtime. You know the scene: A bunch of sweaty twenty-somethings whose little social interaction is the high fives and crude taunts of community ball. If I were of Arabian descent, I would fit in perfectly.

The team that was dominating when I arrived consisted of two super tall college students one of whom could dunk from a standstill, a wizened old man who continues to play only because he has no other life but makes up for it by having a great perimeter shot and a girl. Yes, a female had broken the sanctity of male dominated hoops culture and deigned to play our game.

I hate to say it, but she was good. As I watched the game from the sidelines, taking an occasional warmup shot and stretching periodically to keep my joints lubed, I saw her juke an experienced player for an easy lay-in, pop a perimeter trey while an opponent had a hand squarely in her space and make some awesome ball handling decisions that set up her teammates for easy baskets.

Maybe it was that she jinxed her opponents or maybe her opponents were distracted (if you get my meaning), but it seemed that quality players turned to raspberry Jello as soon as they assumed the defensive posture against her. Predictably, those watching the game would issue snide and sexist remarks at the expense of the player who got “fooled by the girl,” but my attention was focused on the competitive side.

She favored her right hand, shot from the chest like a WNBA player and telegraphed her shots with a long face up. Her defense was tolerable, but she was slow. If her defender guarded against the right side drive and watched closely for the sign of an impending shot, her play might not be so hot. On offense, quick penetrations and perimeter ball teases might use her own court sense as a weapon to open up driving lanes and maybe allow for the occasional deployment of my favorite move, the pull up jumpshot.

She was good, but I felt she was beatable.

As I took the court and waited for the next game to begin, I stood next to the girl, a nonverbal message to my teammates that she was the person I wanted to guard. She introduced herself as Cindy and we did the athlete's version of a handshake: a firm but soundless handslap that occurs about roughly waist height. Eye contact is optional. There isn't any version for girls, so I used the guy-guy greeting.

My first touches of the game were terrible embarrassments. Somehow Cindy was able to reach in during one of my cross-over teases and poke the ball away for a steal and an easy breakaway lay-in. On the next possession she blocked my pull-up, stuffing the ball back in my face and earning a series of catcalls from the sidelines. I was embarrassed and my team was losing. But none of that was as bad as what followed.

With the game close, we were having success in the low post, banging the ball in low with our big man, an overweight kid from the East side of town named Troy (He was probably named Mohamed, but they called him Troy so as to not confuse him with the other Mohameds) . I dribbled into the front court, fed the ball to Troy and then waited on the perimeter as a kick-out option. Troy did a spectacular post move but his shot landed short on the rim and I ran toward the hoop for the offensive rebound.

What followed was a collision. I don't remember all the details of the smash, but I do know that it involved Cindy and Troy, was about two and a half feet off the ground and that my nose was at the very center. I felt a squish sound – not a crack, but a squeak, like a tire rapidly deflating – and heard gasps from those the sideline spectators. Time stood still for a second and then I landed hard on my rump, creating a bruise as colorful as it was painful.

My younger brother has twice broken his nose and I was present for both occasions, so I am familiar with the circumstances that surround protuberance fractures: One bone is pulled loose from another and the schnoz assumes a shape quite dissimilar from the one it used to claim. A little blood and swelling are inevitable side effects.

But my schnoz wasn't broken. When I inspected my nose in the mirror after the game (which we lost, in case you had to rub it in), I didn't feel any swelling or bone irregularity. The the cartilage was stretched and blowing my nose was painful, but the bones were just as sturdy and stable as before. You really thought I broke it, didn't you?

For shame.

I really think my feat of physical sacrifice earned me respect from the other guys. They all wanted to see my bruise and several were complimentary about my nasal swelling. One guy even said I had "hops," which is pretty rare "for a white guy."

In retrospect, however, I wasn't completely satisfied with the game; I think I would have sacrificed my nose, if only I'd beaten that girl.

1 comment:

sniperwatchyourhead said...

Poor, poor, poor you. And your poor nose.