It’s really a pretty standard mantra of my life, as I am sure it is for you: Before reading to a group of kids, make your best effort to conceal your fresh head wounds.
Just me? OK, then.
This latest turn of fun occurred when I was heading to read to a group of kids at Story Time at Hopelands. I have read several times over the past few years and always have a good time engaging the kids and, hopefully, instilling a love of books at an early age.
That said, I think some of my better moments in the program come from not having a big bleeding gash on my head while I read them stories.
Let me back up. I was on my way to read when I noticed a large branch hanging from a tree limb, blocking my lane of traffic. Cars were swerving to avoid the branch, and it was just a general hazard. Looking up at the branch, I saw it had probably been snagged from a truck hauling debris from the recent ice storm.
I pulled my car off the road and examined the situation. It was a rather full wisteria vine, hanging about 20 feet in the air and stretching down to the roadway. Traffic was clear to my right, and a single car was approaching from my left.
For whatever reason, I really enjoy helping out on roadway emergencies. I’ve helped pushed dozens of cars out of traffic, almost always donning my trusty chartreuse-colored vest I have stashed in my glovebox. Safety First! (Or, I guess, when you’re getting out in traffic to push a stalled vehicle, Safety Second! Or Maybe Third! But Somewhere on the List!) I merely saw this as another chance to be Mike Gibbons, Road Hero.
I eased onto the roadway and motioned for the car to please, if they don’t mind, not run me over. The driver kindly stopped.
I began tugging on the vine. It was wedged firmly on the branch over the road. I twisted a little here and there, and it started to work its way free. After a few more tugs and twists, the vine slid off the end of the branch, freeing itself from the tree, but completely giving itself up to gravity.
The branch began to plummet toward the road, spreading out like a big cast net as it fell. As it hit the pavement, several of the tendrils reacted to the impact and came snapping back. Right toward me.
I have always been fortunate to have very good vision. And when I saw the one branch speeding toward my face, my first thought was, “I’m about to have not very good vision since my eyes are about to get poked out.” I instinctively closed me eyes and ducked and turned my head, only to feel a WHAP! on the top of my head.
Knowing traffic wasn’t going to stay at bay forever, I grabbed the limb and pulled it off the side of the road, clearing passage for the waiting car.
I got back in my car, my head not feeling so great. I glanced in the mirror. Nothing. Just this ol’ fella looking back at me.
And then I raised my hair from my forehead and saw a lovely gash, maybe a couple of inches, the blood beginning to gather at the cut.
Story Time was 10 minutes away. Decision time. I could:
(A) Call my wife and get her recommendation on how to proceed.
(B) Stop the bleeding as best I could with a paper towel, and hope to keep it covered during Story Time, and also hopefully not pass out.
(C) Take a picture of the cut and send it to my wife with a witty comment.
(D) I think we all know the answer is (B) and (C).
I drove the rest of the way with a paper towel pressed on the wound, sopping up the blood and eventually stemming the tide. I made it to the event and was able to read without passing out and without giving any emotional scars to children because of the time that guy with the bloody head wound read “The Story of Ferdinand” to them.
I’m glad everything worked out in the end, and I look forward to reading again at Story Time. Granted, next time I’m heading there, I’ll probably wear a helmet.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.