I have had a dodgy knee for years, which as you can see in a recent post, I occasionally re-injure. The story of my knee injury is in two parts, the first one is not so good, and the second one I stand behind proudly.
Part 1: Everclear is never a good idea
I joined Delta Upsilon Fraternity in 2002, and in the summer I went to my first “Big Ass” meeting. We had weekly meetings during the school year, but only one meeting during the summer. The summer meeting was usually held outside of the city, and included a full afternoon and evening of discussion about the previous year, the upcoming year, and a chance for brothers to air and resolve any grievances. Also, drinking. A lot of drinking. Due to the size of the meeting, we called it “Big Ass”.
After the meeting we were sitting around a fire drinking beer. During that time, someone pulled out a bottle of Everclear, which I had never tried before. For those unaware, Everclear is a grain alcohol drink that is usually somewhere between 75% and 95% alcohol by volume. At the time it seemed like a good idea to start doing shots (it wasn’t).
Everyone was already in a pretty good mood, and the combination of the beach setting, fire, and fraternity brothers led to some good-natured rowdiness. At some point I snuck up behind one of my pledge brothers and tripped him for some reason, which I can’t recall, but again probably seemed like a good idea at the time. I ran away giggling as he chased me. I am not the fastest of land mammals, and he was a hockey player with much better cardio than I had. He quickly caught up to me and gave me a shove / bodycheck from behind while I was at my unimpressive top speed. My right leg planted on the ground and my entire body twisted around it. I felt something pop and hit the ground in a heap. I was surprised to find that I could barely stand after that, and had to be helped back to the cabin. We laughed it off, but within a few hours my knee had swollen to about triple the usual size. After a very uncomfortable sleep on the floor I was returned to Winnipeg where I spent the rest of the day with my leg iced and elevated.
Getting hurt during alcohol fueled shenanigans – not the best story. Keep reading!
Part 2: Runaway balloon
Several weeks later my knee was feeling normal again, and I was out with my girlfriend at the time (The Ex) and her family. We went out for dinner with her parents and family. We had a total of 6 adults and 2 kids. One of the kids was just a toddler, and had been given a nice red balloon on a string. She was proudly carrying her balloon, waving it, bouncing it, and generally enjoying a balloon the way that only a toddler can.
Winnipeg is a windy city. The terrain is very, very flat, and the newer areas of the city don’t yet have tree cover to provide windbreaks. We happened to be in a big box store area off Kenaston, and it was a very windy day. As we were getting into the car, a gust came up and ripped the red balloon out of the happy little girl’s hands, blowing it towards the undeveloped empty field nearby. Without a thought, I took off running after the balloon. I reached the end of the parking lot, and continued sprinting in the nearby as yet undeveloped field trying to catch up with the balloon. Just as I started to get close enough to consider grabbing the string, I felt the familiar “pop” in my knee and my leg gave out.
When I was a child I spent 4 years in kids gymnastics. I credit this with training my body to roll and protect my neck when I fall. Thanks to this instinct, what would have been a fall on my face turned into a somewhat graceful roll to a stop. I watched from the ground as the balloon blew away, never to return.
I limped back to the car, looking and feeling ridiculous. However, my selfless sacrifice did manage to earn me some respect and sympathy from The Ex and her family.
When people ask me how I hurt my knee, I like to gloss over the first part of the story and focus on the balloon chase. Anyone can be a drunk idiot and hurt themselves, but there are few things more noble than trying to rescue a little girl’s balloon.