"One dollar? Are you serious? That's a great deal! I'll take it...howabout 75 cents?" (I like to haggle.)
That's how the incident began, innocently enough. At a yard sale in my suddenly overpopulated home by the sea. The score? A sealed box set of Led Zeppelin tunes. 4 cassettes in total. (I know, CD's would have been cooler but as luck would have it, my old vehicle only has a cassette player. And believe it or not, I actually like the scratchy, thick sound of cassettes sometimes.)
Okay, back to the horror story. Old lady selling box set has nothing to put my score in except this over-sized, white plastic bag. She says she'll find me something smaller, it's too big. I don't care, I tell her. She gives me a look of warning, foreboding. I ignore it. She ain't the boss of me.
I climb on my old, trusty bike, put on my iPod and start flying back home, excited to read every boring detail in the linear notes. I'm flying along, flying along, dodging the myriad of tourists and their 200 screaming children, ready to have a "fun" day at the beach. I'm dodging cars and riding aggressively the way I always do.
Suddenly, oversized plastic bag gets stuck in the front spokes of the wheel and suddenly, I am airborne…swoosh! It's always such an interesting feeling when you’re in an accident. Time really stands still. I must have been up there for 5 minutes, I swear. Hmm…how should I fall, I ask myself. I know! I think I’ll fall the way I always fall...well.
I can't seem to come up with "positive affirmations" to tell myself, like "You are worthy and special." "You have hot legs." "God loves you more than the next person." But I can say this about myself: I fall well. I relax, let go. I don't brace or get tense. I let my reflexes do the work and I take a backseat and watch. Of course, I get hurt like anyone else. I just don't get as hurt.
So after an eternity of mid-airness, I land. No, it was a skid, actually. The human body can skid, I note to self. When I finally stopped, I just laid there. (This is part of falling well. Don't get up. Your spine could be in 8 pieces. Just lay there. Relax a spell. Who cares what you look like?)
I turn my head around gingerly and see two soccer moms unhurriedly approaching me. I think to self: Huh. If I saw somebody spill out like I just did, I'd pick up a run, not a goddamn saunter. And these women are supposed to be teeming with maternal instinct? My ass.
When they finally approach me, they ask the inevitable, "Are you alright?" Don’t be sarcastic, Miss Mann. Don't shout enthusiastically, "You know what? I'm MORE than all right. I'm GREAT!" I simply say, "I don't know."
They lift me up and I'm bleeding. Everywhere. A lot. My arms. My legs. The palms of my hands. They look at me nervously. I'm fine. I tell them how I fall well. It’s just something I do. I tell them I can’t manage daily living, relationships, family, finances or my overactive, constantly worried mind, but I seem to fall well. Nobody can take that from me. (Well, I didn’t tell them that. I’m telling you.)
I look at my bag and it's ripped, the contents strewn everywhere. My iPod is fine, thank goodness. The women pick up the tapes and the linear notes and stick them in the bloodied bag. "It's all for rock and roll" I say to no one in particular.
I get back on my bike. It’s making a funny noise. The frame is all messed up but I need to get home. I am now a living, breathing bloodied horror story amidst the plump, lily-white suburbanite families rushing to the beach. I pull up to the first traffic light and plead for it to turn green. No such luck. A woman in a massive SUV next to me looks over and I see her mouth "Oh my god!" behind her closed tinted window. A child crossing the intersection looks at me in terror, grasping his soccer mom's hand. I feel like a vampire out in daylight.
By the next intersection, I'm feeling a little more comfortable with my new, nightmarish look. I decide to up the ante and drag a bloodied palm down both of my cheeks, in downward streaks, like war paint. Which feels kind of appropriate here. These people are nothing like me and I'm nothing like them. But the worst part is that they take over my home and act like I'm the foreigner! Sometimes when I walk on the beach with my surfboard, I get these crazy looks. Like people are really shocked that a female is surfing. I think, "Wow, this is really outside the box for you and your little world, isn't it?"
I get home and the visiting tenants across the street are drinking coffee out on their porch. I decide to act like nothing is wrong, just for kicks. "Hey, great weather we're having. I hear it might storm tomorrow though." They look at me in bored shock, if that's humanly possible. I jump in my outdoor shower and watch the red slowly turn pink.