I’m 33-years-old. Let me just say that first. On Tuesday, I managed to add to a long list of stupid, self-inflicted injuries to my resume by trying to make a dancing montage similar to Kevin Bacon’s warehouse scene in Footloose.
In the movie, while feeling stressed out, Kevin grabs a beer and a smoke, drives his VW Beetle to an empty barn/warehouse and proceeds to give the most emotional, passionate, and greatest dance of his life.
Why did I feel the need to replicate this some 30 years later? Because when I get stressed, just like Kevin I dance. I just decided to make a tribute montage to one of the greatest actors/dancers of our time.
It was going well until I leaped what must’ve been 8 feet into the air, landed and felt my knee pop. Like a true Bacon brother, I kept performing. However, when it happened, I knew something was wrong. Did I sprain it? Tear something? I’m gonna give it a few days to see if it gets better, but right now I can walk on it, but can’t really cut, turn sharply or fold it. I think it’s messed up. See if you can spot the exact moment when it happened:
So I texted my wife and said:
She expects this. She is cautious of when I attempt any physical activity and for good reason: I’m extremely injury prone.
Last year, I ruptured my Achilles tendon playing flag football. I’ve cracked my ribs multiple times and my tailbone once while snowboarding. And those are just the injuries you’d expect. But looking back on my life, I always seem to injure myself in ways that no other person on earth could.
When I was in 2nd grade, I cracked my tailbone while trying to skateboard.
“That’s not unusual Cory. Lots of people do that while skateboarding,” you might say. I was wearing cowboy boots.
When I was in 3rd grade, I thought it was a great idea to climb up on our washer and dryer in an attempt to grab some candy. My foot got stuck in between the two and I tumbled off. Broke my wrist.
When I was a freshman in high school, I was trying to bulk up so the bullies would stop picking on me and the jocks would quit using me as a highlight reel tackling dummy during practice. While attempting to incline bench press 95 lbs., my wrist broke again. My frail little wrist collapsed under the bulky weight of 95 pounds.
Perhaps my greatest injury, however (to date), was when I broke both bones in my forearm in half during college. I’ve told this story a thousand times, but it never gets old to me. It happened in college, so you can be sure that alcohol was involved.
At some point during college, I was talked into being Eastern Washington’s mascot. At the time his name was Victor E. Eagle (Victory Eagle, get it?). Whatever I did, they liked it and asked me to keep doing it. The outfit at the time was about as cheesy and uncomfortable as you could get, so I told them if they got a new outfit and gave me a book scholarship, I was in. Surprisingly, both “demands” were met. They changed the name and I was now “Swoop.” The first Swoop at EWU. The pioneer.
Like any good pioneer, however, I found myself most productive when I had a few cocktails in me. This is how I was so great, or so bad at times, depending on how many cocktails I had. That’s where this story is heading.
So on the first home football game of the year, I was ready. At the time, Southern Comfort was my drink of choice. I haven’t been able to drink it since this incident.
My roommate and I decided to pre-funk before the game by drinking the comforting southern drink while simultaneously syncing all three of our apartment’s radios to “Sweet Home Alabama”. As loud as they could possibly go. Sorry downstairs neighbor.
After “turning it up” to some Skynryd, I for some reason decided it was a good idea to go rollerblading. Rollerblading is never a good idea, but drinking Southern Comfort while rollerblading is a recipe for disaster. Outside of town, there is a trail by Turnbull that heads out to Fish Lake. I strapped on my blades, grabbed my little bottle of So. Co. and hit the trail.
“You broke your forearm in half while drunk rollerblading?” you might be asking. No. Surprisingly, I survived that. The Gods of Fate had bigger plans for me and my arm that day and they involved thousands of people.
So as I’m out shirtless blading on the trail, I quickly realize that I’m going to be late for the game. My first major football mascoting gig as the new eagle. I went home and grabbed my stuff. I was 20 minutes late.
I missed the team running out on the field. I missed the Star Spangle Banner. I missed all of that.
But I came stumbling out of the locker room, full of southern courage, and began doing my schtick. I immediately walked over to the student section of the field and began messing with them. I found a few guys I knew, jumped on them, they threw in a few punches (as I had become accustomed to in the past. People feel that it’s ok to physically abuse mascots. It’s not. Stop it. There are people inside those suits!)
Just then, I spotted some ROTC guys making a lap on the track and decided to go mess with them. I strutted up to them, a la Vince McMahon when he’s peacocking, tapped them on the shoulder and thought, “We’re on a track, let’s race.” I conveyed all of this nonverbally of course. Mascots don’t talk. This is important to remember for later in this story.
The ROTC guys didn’t seem into it and I’m surprised they didn’t just slap my beak. But I got down in my runner’s stance, heard a gun go off in my head and took off down the track.
The track was made of that rubber substance. The bottom of my eagle feet were also rubber. The traction and stopping ability was excellent. Too excellent. Suddenly, my eagle claw caught the rubber on the track and with all of the force of my running behind me, my left leg came to a dead stop and popped out of socket. I immediately began falling to my left and put my leg arm out to catch me because my leg was useless at this point. When my arm hit the track, I heard and felt it. Both bones snapped.
So there I am. On the ground, in front of thousands of football fans who had just witnessed that. Or at least had the chance to. I’m sure only a handful actually saw it happen.
My leg wasn’t working. and I knew my arm was done. But I also knew that despite an ambulance being right next to where I fell, I couldn’t go seek help from them. So I popped my leg back into its socket and picked myself up.
My leg hurt, but was still functional. My arm on the other hand (ha!) was just dangling there. Unable to move. Ok. What now? My only hope was to go seek help from an outside source. Someone who wouldn’t think it was inappropriate to be drunk in an eagle costume.
So I began limping back to the locker room (probably a good 1/2 mile away.) I passed the same ROTC guys I thought I was racing, who simply gave me a smile and a thumbs up like, “That’s what you get, you idiot.” Deserved.
While they weren’t concerned with my well-being, some little kids most definitely were, and came to check on my status. By pulling on my broken arm and saying, “Are you Ok, eagle?” Sweet. Very sweet. But very painful. Remember the mascot code of silence, though? I never broke it. And while it’s hard to be proud of anything in this story, I am proud of that. I take that (imaginary) oath seriously.
So I gave the kids a thumbs up and kept limping along. I passed by the student section and was immediately yelled at and berated by a bunch of drunk 20-somethings. Understandable.
Surprisingly, the folks at the ambulance just kept leaning on their boxed car that contained all of the medical help I could need for the time being. No matter. I couldn’t let them see me in this condition anyway. So I trekked on.
I made it to the locker room. My own locker room. The mascot and players had separate locker rooms. I was thankful for that because I’m sure had I been in there, it would’ve been high school all over again and they would’ve just whipped me with rolled up, wet towels.
Once in the locker room, I quickly realized that I was not going to be able to get out of my suit on my own. The head was secured by two straps that tucked under my armpits. With the weight of my useless, dangling arm, coupled with not being able to move it, there was no way I was getting my giant eagle head off. So I had to improvise.
So I began my journey on foot to my sister’s house, which was close to campus. I definitely didn’t walk up to my car and drive to her house with the eagle head on. Drinking and driving is bad. Don’t do it.
But I eventually made it to my sister’s house and knocked on the door. She opened it to find a giant eagle with a broken wing, finally able to release the reservoir of tears that had built up behind my eyes, held back only by sheer survivalist instinct.
She cut the head off and drove me to the doctor. The doctor played with my arm for a while as if it weren’t broken, then said I would need to go to the ER. After putting a splint around it with the force of a cowboy roping a calf, he sent me off to the ER, where I was immediately put on the fast track to surgery.
I now have two giant scars on my left forearm to remind me never to drink and mascot again. Hopefully, my knee gets better and I don’t have yet another surgery scar to remind me that I am not Kevin Bacon, and I cannot in fact dance.