Eating dirt and saving face

Last week, I “endoed” on my mountain bike. If you have never heard the term “endo” before, do not fret, for I just recently got a good lesson, as it smacked me right in the face. In so many words, “endoing” is what happens when one’s momentum is serendipitous to that of another attached moving vehicle (i.e., skateboard, scooter, roller skates, bicycle, etc.) and said moving vehicle’s momentum suddenly ceases and does not relay that message to the person (previously) attached.

In other words: inertia.

Basically, my bike stopped, and my body wanted to continue right over the handlebars and onto the ground. 

It was one of those gracefully embarrassing falls where I wasn’t doing anything particularly cool. I wasn’t impressing anyone. I wasn’t trying a new technical move over that sweet jump. I don’t even think I caught any air. It was a slow, stupid, dumb, sloppy, tumble.

After my face hit ground and I dinned on fine dirt for a second, I came up for air just as gracefully as I went down.

“I’m good, I’m fine!” I yelled to no one, because my friend was still en route to finding me.

When she rode up, I kept assuring whomever was nearby that I was totally fine and warned that there was blood so as not to overly surprise anyone when I started squirting in their direction.


You see, I’m not new to crashing, and I know that any blood that comes from the head area is going to be a lot of blood. Sometimes, the blood-to-injury ratio is on par, other times, the massive amount of blood can be a bit misleading.

After affirming all my teeth were intact, I graciously, and thankfully, knew it was the latter. 

So, I turned to face my friend, Sara, who was at this time doubling over distraught, and shaking her hands murmering things like “ummm, uhhhh.”

“No really, I’m fine!” I said with blood all over my face. In retrospect, I can totally see why she thought I was, in fact, not fine.

I dabbed at my face with my T-shirt trying to clear off the excess blood so we could together better find the exact spot it was coming from. Meanwhile Sara was simultaneously trying not to vomit once she saw the gaping hole in my lower lip.

“How does it look?” I kept asking her, oblivious to her white-washed, clearly disgusted face.

“Well, It looks like I could fit my pinky into it,” she cringed. 

You know you have a good friend when the very thing you’re asking her to look at is the very thing that stimulates her gag reflex. Another sign you have a good friend is when she pulls out duct tape from her first aid kit to secure an oversized piece of gauze to 50 percent of your face for the ride back down the trail. Yep, I’ve got a good one here.

Once we were back at the Horse Gulch trailhead, we debated for a few minutes whether I’d need stitches and/or if she could, in fact, fit her pinky into my bottom lip (which, it turns out, she could not.) After I convinced her that all my bicycle-riding limbs were intact and in working order, and I didn’t need a ride home or to the emergency room, we rode back to our respective homes and said goodnight (well, mine was more of a slurred mumble).

Entering my home, thankful to be alive (or something less dramatic), I gave my lips some class-A liberal ice application, and then I went to bed naively thinking that the past is the past, and let’s all move on with our lives.

The next morning, I woke up with what I could only, with all due respect, call “face herpes.” Both of my lips were split and swollen, and I had a constellation of rode rash right down the center of my face that only grew and became more red and much more noticeable as the week went on.

My swollen and scab-infested face made conducting professionalism in my work environment difficult, flirting with cute boys awkward, and drinking hot liquids painfully impossible.

Unfortunately, it only got worse before it got better. Now, a week later, I’m starting to think less and less of the monstrosity that is my face, sometimes even forgetting about it completely – that is, until the inevitable average three people a day look at me and point to their own faces with raised eyebrows. This, I have learned, is the nonverbal equivalent of saying, “Oh, sh#$%, what happened to your face?!” Then I have the painful reminder, all is still not well.

Of course, I would rather people mention the obvious than pretend it’s not there, because heaven knows what crazy story they’re concocting in their heads.

No, I wasn’t drunk and/or beat, sir.

It’s an odd thing, these “battle wounds.” In some weird sadistic way, we kind of want to be proud of them, like “yeah, I’m a tough cookie for tipping over face first onto the ground because I was doing something cool and badass!” And then everyone will applaud as you walk by to order your cup of strong, black coffee, because that’s what badasses drink.

And somewhere in my mind, I’m really hoping that people are thinking “damn, she must have been doing something really rad/gnar/sick/sweetbro to make her face look like that!!” Even though I know, truly in my heart, that when that cute boy is looking at me, he’s actually just thinking “Ewwww. Gross.”

So, as I take a sip of my strong, black coffee and spill it all over the front of my shirt, right in front of that professional person/cute boy, not because it’s hot, but because my lips are still an awkwardly larger-than-normal state, I do thank my lucky stars that things weren’t worse; that I could laugh with my friend on our ride back down Horse Gulch about how I looked like a beaver, or walrus, or something. That I can wake up the next morning with only a swollen face because we’ve all heard those other horror stories. That’s a wavier we all sign when we choose to do the things we do.

And we will keep doing them and continue to forget about the law of gravity and physics, and we will keep tipping over, running into trees, and making ourselves bruise and bleed. Then we will get up, wipe ourselves off, and march into that coffee shop, past all the professionals and good-looking humans, and right up to that bar and order the strongest, blackest cup of coffee we can, with our warrior wounds showing proudly. And then we will run, because everyone will be mad that we cut in line.

  – Jennaye Derge