Monday, July 9, 2007

My first brush with death

Since the title of this blog is "I can't believe I'm still alive", I guess I should post some stare downs I had with the grim reaper from time to time.

The first one goes back to high school in Southern California. I was a 2nd string defensive end on a pretty good varsity high school team. I got into maybe 10-12 plays a game because while I was a tough guy, I was slow. I accepted my lot on the team and enjoyed the game and all the perks that went with it.

It was the late fall of 1963 and we were giving the other team a good ass whuppin so the coach put me in to finish the game. I was playing pretty well and was able to handle my man fairly easily so was feeling pretty cocky, especially being a Friday night game with my girl in the stands, I was really looking forward to the party at the beach after the game.

I never made that party, as a matter of fact I never made anything for 8 days. I woke up from a coma with my family and a few guys from the team looking at me like they had seen a ghost. And I guess they had-me!! I remember 3 things from that moment. I had a huge headache, was hungry as hell and was even hornier. I remembered nothing and when everyone started crying and laughing, I did too because I had no idea what was wrong but I knew it had to be good that I was alive. The doctors and nurses came rushing in before I could talk to anyone and I remember seeing this huge black guy I had never seen before leave my room with the others who were all asked to leave.

The medical staff started asking me questions like what's your name,DOB, what year is it, look at the penlight etc. I finally said "What the hell happened-how long have I been sleeping?" "You've had a serious football accident and have been in a coma for 8 days."

"What the FUCK? Are you kidding me?"

"No, your brain was so swollen that we had to operate to relieve the pressure but you were read the last rites 4 days ago."

"Holy shit-what happened? I remember running out on the field after we kicked off after a touchdown and... and... holy shit, I don't remember anything more."

Well we're not sure but I think it had something to do with that big black kid out there because he has been here ever since you came in and he has been praying with your parents every night and sobbing."

"But I don't even know him-I've never seen him before-he's not on my team."

"His name is Dexter and he's an all conference player for the other team. He said he would give up his scholarship to USC just to see you wake up"

"Holy SHIT!! I gotta find out what happened."

Nobody else but my family was allowed to see me for a few days but my team mates came by often with a few cheerleaders and managed to do all the gross things you would expect through the window. All in the name of cheering me up. Today, it's called flashing.

So what happened? The play developed and was going the other way. By the time I got past my block, it was long gone so I stopped, turned around and started running slowly over to the bench. Then someone screamed "REVERSE" which meant the play was coming back my way. Apparently I turned around just in time to be literally run over by their 230 pound all conference fullback-Dexter. Equipment wasn't great back then and my helmet flew off and my head bounced off the ground like an indian rubber ball. And here I was.

When Dexter finally visited me, he just looked at me and started smiling as he shook my hand and said "Man,I never thought I'd play football again if you died" His hands were like breadbaskets. He was a monster-maybe 5-9, with not an ounce of fat on his 230 pounds. even though we were about the same weight, I had 10 inches on him at 6'7" so his mass was twice mine. His fucking thighs were as big as my waist.

It would make a nice story if we had kept in touch and Dexter went on to be a college and NFL star but I heard he got hurt in his first year at USC and dropped out. I did go on to play college ball but as a walk-on, but it still got me laid a lot in University and that's not a bad thing.

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