(I take no credit for the movie reference, because Tyler thought of it on his own. It will make sense later).
Okay, have you seen the movie Hitch? Well, there is a part in the movie when Will Smith takes Eva Longoria to Ellis Island on a jet ski for this really moving scene where she sees her ancestors signature from immigrating or something. Irrelevant. BUT...it is there first date. And a really good idea for one at that. On their way back, Will Smith is getting on the jet ski or something, and he swings his leg over the top of it, clocking Eva Mendes in the head with his foot. Later scenes show her with an ice pack on her face. Now...keep this scene in mind as I tell you the story of one of the funniest and most memorable moments of my life thus far.
Five years ago, at Kiawah, the cousins and I made friends with some boys from Statesville, NC...about an hour north of Charlotte. We stayed in touch with the off and on, but mostly via facebook. Tyler C. is a year younger than me and one of the guys in the group. He is a cadet at West Point, but this summer he spent some time in Hawaii for some military stuff and leaves in a couple days to go to Georgia...same idea. He has been home for a few days in between and he sent me a facebook message wanting to know if I wanted to hang out since he knew that I had moved to Charlotte. If you can't tell yet, I have very few friends in Charlotte, and until I had this waitressing job I had just about nothing to do...so, I welcome any and all plans being made. After some careful planning around all of the time that Tyler's mom deserves with him, he proposed that we go to the US National Whitewater Center. Now I have been DYING to actually go to this palce and experience it firsthand. I had been out there once before to clear trails, but its the one place people keep saying you gotta go for outdoors stuff.
So, Tyler picks me up around 9:40 Wednesday morning, with snacks packed...haha. We met his friend William who works at the whitewater center and he took us flatwater kayaking. Then we went adventure rafting together. While adventure rafting I, being the smart alec that I am, ask the guy if anyone really gets hurt at this place. They make you sit through a 30 minute safety spiel every time you raft. Even if you go 5 times in one day. They tell you one thing that is an absolute MUST on the river: NEVER LET GO OF YOUR T-GRIP. A t-grip is the end of the oar that your hand holds. He tells me some examples of injuries, but I am still not sold. It all feels pretty contained and sealed up real neat there, as opposed to being on a real river. A step up from adventure rafting is Rodeo Rafting, which our guide assures us will make us swim, meaning that we will get knocked out at some point. Tyler and I look at each other and I think I tried to send facial expressions that said, "Come on, come onnnnn...I wanna do it." Silly me, my eyes are always bigger than what my body can usually handle. I am starting to feel like I might be a bit of an adrenaline junkie.
So we eat lunch with William and Tyler looks at me, smiles, and says we should go Rodeo. Yessir, it worked. We get on a trip at 330 that is expected to last 1.5 hours. So we suit up and take our swim test, which consists of us having to float down a rapid and then swim to an eddy where we can safely stand and get out of the "river" (manmade). I pass the test, but ignore the omen that warns me of what is yet to come. As I float the rapid I am holding my paddle parallel to the ground with both hands in front of me, the force of water to my face causes my paddle to make contact with my nose in such a way that I feel like I probably have a nosebleed, but luckily, I exit the water unscathed. We make our first trip down the regular rafting course and it goes smoothly. Our guide informs us that the next trip won't go so smoothly. He assures us that we will swim. Lucky for us...none of us swam. And that was kind of Tyler's fault.
See, there is a whitewater rafting technique called "surfing." This entails going down a rapid then paddling out to an eddy so that you can paddle back upstream into the rapid and "surf." While surfing you are usually getting tons of water in your boat and a bunch of waves in your face. I didn't get waves to my face, but I did get something else to my head. While surfing, my paddle gets pulled under by a wave and the leverage makes it force upward like a teeter totter with all the weight on one end. I quickly grab hold of my t-grip, but not before what I perceive to be it hitting me in the head. At the same time that this is happening, I am starting to fall out of the boat, and PRESUMABLY, Tyler LETS GO OF HIS T-GRIP (see paragraph 3), in order to pull me back in. This plan to be a (careless) chivalrous gentlemen of course backfires because he has broken the cardinal rule of rafting.
I feel something hit my helmet and then settle on my right eyebrow with what feels like a little bit of force. Like maybe only 6 G's. We finally get out of the rapid and I sit up regular smiling and ready to roll, only to turn my head ot look at the faces of my boatmates and see their mouths wide open. I quickly start to feel liquid dripping in my eye, go to wipe it off and at the same time as the girl behind me tells me I am bleeding, I look at my hand covered with blood. I am laughing because I still think I did this to myself and because really, this always happens to me. Our guide rushes us to the bank and makes us walk out of the river and over to the main building ot see the EMT. On our way we pass a big group of kids who all look at me like I stepped out of a coffin, or some Michael Myers movie. Someone asks me if its paint or real blood. Yea buddy, its paint, brought it special for the rafting trip.
I finally walk by a window where I can see my reflection and I look like I belong in a haunted house, like someone threw 15 of those fake blood capsules at my forehead. From my eyebrow down, the whole right side of my face and neck is covered with blood. I kinda laugh, nervously, having no idea how this happened. I mention that I did it to myself and the girl who was in our raft corrects me, saying she thought it was Tyler. Up to this point he has been quiet except to mumble that he is so sorry while I shush him and tell him no big deal. He then proclaims that he too thinks it was his paddle that hit me in the face...i.e. Will Smith kicking Eva Mendes in the head.
Well, after cleaning me up very minimally, the EMT vocalizes what I am dreading...STITCHES. boo, really? You know I always wanted stitches when I was younger...and a cast. This year I got both. When I was growing up going to summer camp at Bluestone we had to play the scar game, where everyone told a story about their favorite scar. I always made stuff up and told people that you couldn't see the scar because it was under my clothes. Even scandalous as a child. Too little too late Stitches. So, the EMT wraps my head like I am some war victim that lost an ear or took some shrapnel to the brain. I feel like McDreamy just did neurosurgery. I walk around the whitewater center aimlessly while Tyler frantically runs back and forth tying up loose ends. One guy walk past me and mumbles, "Purple heart." Thanks for mocking me a-hole.
Tyler and I put on dry clothes and begin the 35 minute drive back to Charlotte to get my insurance card which I have so conveniently left back at my apartment. He then takes me to Urgetn Care to get checked out. In case you didn't know, I just graduated. Which means shortly if not now I am off my parents health insurance. Lucky for me, my mom pulls strings and bends rules. We pass the initial screening and make it back to the patient room, Tyler in tow despite his proclaimed and proven weak stomach for blood. He is a trooper. We get in the room and my nurse is a large black woman who Tyler claims looked at him like a woman-beater. Rightly so my friend, rightly so. All three women who enter our room gush over Tyler and his tomato red thighs, arms and face. Thanks for wrecking my face and stealing my thunder man. Hello ladies, bleedinggggg.
The PA comes in to sew me up but first gives me 15 shots of something numbing. After she contonues to prick me and I am still not numb I tell her to just put me out of my misery and get to work. If she is going to be sticking me anyway we might as well be making progress, numb or not. Initially I was told 1-2 stitches. The first nurse says three. The PA finally tell me four and then pulls a magic trick, making my gash bigger, and says my lucky number is five. How do those people do that...and better yet, why? This isn't clown school Patch Adams. Throughout the whole thing Tyler is a total gentlemen. I ask him to tell a story to distract me and he is gracious in obliging. I get outta there with 5 stitches and a swift punch to the stomach with the promise of a return visit to get the stitches removed in 5 days. Thanks folks. These things don't dissolve? Plus I cannot get them wet. Perfect since its 100 degrees here every day.
Well, other than a little headache, some mild throbbing, and some ego bruising I'd say the day was a success. Tyler and I made it to Bible study right on time and even got to go out to dinner to celebrate, while he quizzed me for my menu test for waitressing. Even though I got the memory knocked out of me I passed the test and even survived my mock dining. Hooray, I am a full fledged waitress. Can you hear the excitement in my voice? For the record, the correct answer is no. At least I had a good ice breaker at all my tables today because of the piece of gauze taped to my head. And Tyler can tell everyone he knows how ot give a paddle to the face. I don't think he'll be giving any rafting safety demonstrations anytime soon.