Corie Skolnick’s latest Communiqués From Geezerville column is about (mis)adventures during COVID and defining the word “active” in an “active 55+ community.”
It’s another perfect day in Geezerville. Pablo’s out mountain biking with another geezer who lives a few doors down while I stay in and worry about the debt ceiling crisis.
In general, I don’t approve of mountain biking for someone who can see his ninth (and certainly his final) decade of life looming just ahead of him. He, however, believes in his own immortality, so, off he goes. His one concession to his overprotective spouse is he can’t go without a buddy. I’m all about the buddy system. That way, the next time a rattlesnake slithers across the trail in front of the guy who’s in front of Pablo, and he slams on his brakes and Pablo has to stop on a dime catapulting his skinny old ass into the air and over his handlebars to land his face on a rock, there will be someone there to stem the prodigious bleeding and call the mountain rescue team. True story. Happened up in Topanga Canyon when he was a much younger and much more agile mountain biker. Now? I can’t even imagine the damage that could ensue to that old carcass in a similar accident. I swear, if he kills himself this way, I’m going to kill him again.
Okay, to be fair, he NEEDS this ride. NEEDS it the way a meth addict needs the pipe. To say Pablo is an activity junkie doesn’t quite do the word “junkie” true justice. Ask anyone with even a passing acquaintance. The guy can’t sit for more than a minute. He’s unruly. He’s always on the move. The psychological toll the pandemic has taken on him has not been pretty to watch. He has suffered. Oh, I know, it’s a WORLDWIDE pandemic and no one, not one human soul, has escaped the effects of the shutdown, but let’s be real—it has not affected everyone in exactly the same horrible way. For example, I know people who’ve enjoyed the isolation and downtime. Some are even resentful about things opening up again as they begin to slowly move in that direction. (Weirdos.)
But people like Pablo? Nah ah. In normal, pre-pandemic times, I’ve seen him get up in the middle of a lecture at a professional conference in a grand hotel ballroom and go to the back of the room and do stretches and some light calisthenics (as if he thinks I’m not watching him). He makes caged, hungry, pacing tigers look chill on his worst days. So, honestly, if you’re the one locked inside the cage with him (and yeah, yeah, I know, I’m super privileged to have a cage at all; don’t think I don’t feel guilty about that), there are moments, in a lockdown, when you’re going to relax ALL YOUR CONCERNS for the tiger’s safety. If you get my drift. So, off you go, Mountain Bike Boy! Have at it and have loads of outdoor fun!
I can’t even imagine the damage that could ensue to that old carcass in a similar accident. I swear, if he kills himself this way, I’m going to kill him again.
It was a combo of the dropping COVID numbers there for a nanosecond a while back and how antsy he was getting that I did agree to, and let him make arrangements to, fly on a commercial jet, no doubt just full to the brim with COVID-19, into Ken-fucking-tucky to go on a five-day bike trip with one of the fancier bike organizers, you know the ones. They follow you around and fill your water bottles when they dip down to the ¾ mark, and they cram M&M’s into your pie hole every 30 minutes. (“Eat before you get hungry. Drink before you get thirsty.” So the wisdom of long-distance biking goes. Whatever. I’m ALWAYS down to eat and drink.) But then, just as the cancellation window closed forever on our reservations, the governor of Kentucky declared a state of emergency due to rapidly ascending COVID fatality numbers and a dire shortage of available emergency medical treatment facilities. Pablo was like, “Eh, we’re vaccinated, let’s go.” Whereas I was like, “Are you completely out of your ever-loving mind?” Mark this one tiny moment in time when I staunchly put my size 6.5 down. So, somebody in Geezerville is not happy right now. I told him to go without me, but he’s afraid that if he died a miserable, isolated death in a COVID ward in Kentucky (if he could even get into one), he’d never live it down. (Black humor is so in right now.)
For his fans, let me review Pablo’s international visits to the ER. Once, up in Canada, he was cruising along at a moderate pace on a wooden slatted boardwalk where you can take the ferry from Vancouver Island. You know what’s coming, don’t you? It’s funny how fast a bike stops when the front tire slips in between two of those wooden slats. Not funny haha. Funny strange. Stranger still how much an old leg will bleed when a bike pedal cuts it to the shin bone. Even the EMTs were impressed. Off he went in the ambulance leaving me standing on the street trying to figure out how I could return the two rental bikes to the shop and then eventually find my way to the hospital where he was yukking it up with a few buxom nurses when I finally arrived. Canadians are so friendly, don’t you know?
Another time, he was flying downhill at an ill-advised velocity in Spain. He turned for just a second to yell, “Yahoooooo!” or some other wholly American response to the sudden vision of the Spanish coastline after fifty miles of dry, ninety-degree-plus heat and relentless sun. It was his undoing. Or rather, the poorly placed speed bump just before the bottom was his undoing. No ambulance that time, however, the locals came flying out of their house with all sorts of first aid equipment before I even reached his inert corpus. Apparently, he was not the first to encounter that speed bump.
In that particular accident, he acquired what the biking community euphemistically refers to as “severe road rash” and more accurately can be described as a complete skinning of his right arm. Also, down to the bone. By the time we left Europe three days later on an emergency re-schedule (abandoning the French leg of that bike trip entirely), we’d visited three different clinics in three different Spanish towns. I can’t say enough good about the Spanish universal healthcare system. They were lovely. And virtually free. Even for los Americanos. I have to say, though, that they may have been a teensy bit cavalier about how much he would need that arm in the future. It infected so badly that we hopped on that emergency flight back to civilization where he was hospitalized for five days on IV antibiotics. Not to worry. The arm was saved. The poor woman, though (not his wife), the one who had to sit next to him as he deliriously thrashed and moaned all the way across the Atlantic? She’s probably still having nightmares about the red-faced geezer next to her who kept putting his feverish head on her horrified shoulder as he clutched the oozing crimson basketball that had once been his right arm.
Also on The Big Smoke
- Communiqués From Geezerville: The Ping-Pong Wars
- Communiqués From Geezerville: Where/What Is Geezerville?
- Communiqués From Geezerville: The Sheriff of Doggie Doo-Doo
Okay, that’s enough. I won’t bore you with the ER visit in Saigon. You’ve probably heard enough to know that, in our cases, it’s not only possible that we’ll need emergency medical intervention of one sort or another—it’s likely. Long story cut short, he finally listened to some reason and canceled Kentucky.
So, here we are, wasting away again in Geezerville, just down the winding road from Margaritaville, where the nights are long and the humble bragging goes on and on. Humble bragging like that up there is what we geezers are left with now. Recounting our memories, good and bad, but even the bad ones somehow end up sounding like great adventures in the re-telling.
Little tiny side story of some modest amusement: the very first week we moved here to Geezerville, Pablo chanced to meet another “avid biker” of similar age, i.e., damn near eighty years old. When plans for their inaugural ride of the Geezerville Mountain Bike Club were scrapped because the guy had had a very bad bike accident, Pablo reluctantly admitted that “said accident” occurred as the guy was trying to walk his bike out of the gate. He broke his collarbone. He was W-A-L-K-I-N-G. (Sorry not sorry for laughing.)
His wife won’t let him ride anymore.