Not Clumsy, Just Tired - 09.06.99

It was yet another crazy game of racquetball between my friend and I. Over the course of the past several months, we'd gotten into the habit of playing four or more times a week, and over the last couple of weeks we'd been playing very evenly. After a couple of games (usually the best of three), I'd be so worn out that walking back to the dorm was a pretty big chore before showering up for dinner.

On this particular day, we had another brutal match going on, and it was wearing on in the third game. I'd won the first duel 15 to 12 (just as a bit of fill-in, games in racquetball last to 15, and you have to win by two), but he'd come back and beat me decently the second game 15 to 10. Combined, they had taken over 40 minutes to play because of our nearly equal skills, and our third game was heading into 20 minutes itself.

Like normal, my body was starting to feel the wear from the nearly previous hour of sixty minutes, but I didn't dare let up my guard lest my friend take the advantage and win the best out of three series. We were tied 10 to 10 when I got out a wicked serve that seemed like it would be impossible to return. In only a matter of seconds, though, my friend had returned it equally as brutally and we had been thrown into a rapid succession of back and forth volleys. Instead of ending with a sudden kill, it went on for nearly a minute at a feverish pace until finally my friend smashed it into a back corner and I slightly missed a return with a fully horizontal dive.

I was winded, but I felt a little better when I looked at my friend breathing hard and it helped my confidence a touch. He was up to serve and I fell back into my stance, trying to ready myself for anything he could send my way. I needed to break his serve and get back again so I could score 5 more points and end the game.

On his first swing, he caught me off guard and I didn't get a very good hit on the ball. It wobbled lamely toward the front wall and nearly as soon as it had hit, my friend was on it and smashed it back into the far opposite corner, making me strafe the full width of the court in a split second. Again I returned it, but again it was lame again and this time he took advantage of my mishit and buried it into the floor at the front of the court. I knew it was coming and barely moved out of the corner when I saw him hovering down on it.

He was now ahead 11 to 10 and I felt much more tired than he looked. Somehow, I think he sensed it and sent another blistering serve my way as soon as I had given him the nod, but this time I countered fairly well and we went into another back and forth duel where we were struggling to reach each shot. It was one of those exchanges that makes the game so fun, but I could also feel it wearing me down even more with each step.

By the time he had won the point, I was breathing just about as heavy as possible and I signaled to him that I needed 5 seconds of breather before his next serve. He didn't seem to argue with me, and after a few moments we finally agreed that it was time to go another round. He sent a pretty good serve my way, I returned it nicely and we went into one last throwdown.

Again, we countered each other well and by this time I was completely worn out. My movement was slowing down a ton and it all came to a hilt when my friend smashed one final hit that came off the wall and right back towards me. I saw it coming, but by the time it was bearing down on me, all I could do was send a weak swing up towards it and hope to fend it off.

I jumped backwards a bit and swung through with my racquet, but ended up missing the ball completely. It flew up and hit me in the stomach while my racquet continued slowly on its arch and hit me softly in the left eyebrow. Feeling completely wasted, I let myself fall backwards softly and caught myself with my arms before lowering myself onto the floor. I was laughing at having just been hit with the ball, as well as smacking myself in the head with my own racquet.

Just as I was starting to get up, though, my friend started yelling at me to stay on the floor and rushed out of the court in a hurry. Ignoring his orders, I started to get onto my feet anyway, but was startled by a little smudge of blood on the floor beside where my head had been. As I sat up, the stream diverted and I could feel a warm substance running down the side of my face just by my eye and onto my shirt. Putting my hand to my head, I pulled it away quickly and found it already covered in crimson.

By this time, several people outside were staring at me and a member of the court staff was on their way with my friend and a towel. I took it and placed it on my head, then went into the bathroom to see just what had happened to cause such a mess.

When I got there, I found that I had indeed cut my eyebrow open slightly, but the amount of blood that was coming out seemed almost unbelievable. By this point, the towel had soaked up some blood, as well as my shirt that had caught the stream for the first few moments after I stood up. I washed away all the blood several times with cold water, but each time the wound started pumping out fresh blood and would soon be trickling down my face again. It wasn't a very large gash, but it was a head wound and my heart was pumping it out like a madman.

After awhile, I gave up and just stood there looking in the mirror, viewing myself as if I were some sort of creature in a movie. Blood was trickling down my face and onto my shirt and a couple drops had curved around to my chin and dripped down into the porcelain sink. Finally, a person came into the bathroom, scaring me into cleaning up the mess and washing off the wound one more time. By this point, it had subsided greatly, but I still needed to hold a piece of tissue to it on the way home, just to make sure it didn't pop open a gusher again.

By the time I had showered, it was almost completely stopped, but would spit out little bits every once in awhile, so I decided to put a bandaid on, lest I spew blood from my head in the cafeteria and gross people out even more than they would be by the evening meal. It was cause to use my glow-in-the-dark bandaid, and I wore it proudly.