On Being A Has Been: Bumpers and Bum Ankles

Escort BumperFor someone like me who was once a decent athlete, a nagging injury can be… uh, nagging. Galling. Frustrating to say the least.

So now, after years of consistent problems from torn ligaments suffered in both ankles, I’m quickly getting used to the idea that I am officially a sports ‘has been.’ I have arrived at that place where I am happy to walk away from participation in a sporting event without further injury.

Sure I can still shoot the three, pass the ball, and be in the right place at the right time better than any of the younger whippersnappers, but it’ll never again be the same. I can’t drive, create my own shot, steal the ball, get rebounds, nor play fly-on-honey defense like I once could. If the outfielder is caught sleeping, I can’t hurry up around first to sneak in that extra base. I’m lucky in soccer if I can hold off the defender and get rid of the ball, let alone make a good pass or dribble around anyone like I once could.

My Ford Escort is also a has been. It now has a nice hole in its bumper, half of which is now held on by a white metal hanger, kinda like my ankle braces I have to wear every time I lace up my shoes. My car doesn’t so much drive as much as it limps. Its frailty, though once annoying, has become a sort of scarlet letter whose offense has worn over the years. I’m used to it. Like a Hester Prynne who struggles to regain her dignity, my car and my ankles hobble through life’s distance seeking redemption from the frustration of slow healing.

Though nothing like the weight and suffering of a scarlet letter, I’ve become increasingly content with the inescapable reality of weakness, which is a good thing, I guess. Bum ankles, like car bumpers held up by wire hangers, are step-by-step reminders that we are fragile people often barely holding things together.


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