Tuesday, January 27, 2009
I Ran Over a Lollipop Kid
Only one word came to my lips as I sailed through the air. Time slowed down, stretched out and seemed to crystallize around me, and I was stuck in slow motion. I could make out tiny flecks of sparkly material in the asphalt. I felt suspended, caught in an impossible sprawl as I uttered the first and only word that came to mind:
Upon contact with the street, time suddenly sprung back into motion, over-compensating for its previous lapse. Things now moved very, very fast. Luckily for me, although I never could have known it at the time, I had been forced to take judo lessons as a kid. I was taught to not fight a fall, but to roll along with the force of inertia. I had actually placed third in a regional competition at the age of eleven. But all that was very far away. For now, it was simply: Tuck and roll, tuck and roll.
And so instinctively I tucked, and I rolled to a stop in the middle of the intersection. I came to rest on my back, draped across the pavement like a carelessly tossed sheet. I took a quick inventory of my body and all major systems seemed to be responding. That was good. Now I had to collect myself and get the hell out of the intersection before it was me who was the one getting run over.
I couldn't believe it. I had run over a midget.
I stood up and looked behind me. The midget was getting up as well.
"Are you okay, man?" I asked, not yet sure if this was real.
"Yeah... Are you alright?" He asked back as he hobbled along across the street. Some passersby hurried over to him, asking if he was hurt. I decided it was probably best for me to make a hasty get away. I hopped on my wobbly, warped bicycle and loped down the hill, continuing on my way. This was too coincidental to be real. I could almost taste the blood in my mouth from Karma's bitch-slap.
I am sure there is some dainty, politically correct term for the persons I am describing. Dwarves. Vertically Challenged Individuals. Little People, for crying out loud. But I refuse to use it. This is a story of exploitation and callous, selfish indulgence. I had once used midgets as my personal jesters. It was a reprehensible act, and I continue to expose myself as a jerk by using the term Midget. I may arouse some ire, But I feel it is deserved. Call it a penance of sorts.
It had all started innocently enough, as most of these kinds of things do. I had begun to notice that I had been seeing more and more midgets in the movies I had been renting, and they would always make me laugh. Without fail. Regardless of subject matter, a midget in the cast was a surefire way to have me rolling on the floor, clutching my sides with convulsive laughter. Imagine Marlon Brando as a midget in The Godfather. Goddamn funny, right? I suppose it got a little out of hand, as do most things that start innocently enough. I began renting movies based upon the sole merit of a midget in the credits.
A short list of classic midget films:
Gone With The Wind employed midgets as extras in background scenes in order to make the main characters seem larger than life. Destination Moon was called the most realistic film ever made to portray a journey to the moon when it was released in 1951. Midgets were used in backgrounds to convey a sense of distance which was just not available on a closed set. Other films put midgets at the forefront, as was the case in The Wizard of Oz, or much later in the Star Wars series. No film, however, featured as many midgets as Terror in Tinytown, the all-Western, all-singing, all-midget film which predated The Wizard. It may sound funny and exploitative, and indeed it is, but Tinytown was actually played straight; as a legitimate musical western, played by midget actors exclusively. (I am aware of the irony of this statement). There were no cheap short jokes or puns intended to poke fun or ridicule. Make no mistake, however: the film was terrible. A certifiable goose-egg. But then again, so very few musical westerns ever make it into Hollywood's Hall of Fame.
Recovering addicts sometimes talk about how they hit rock bottom, and how it forced them to see clearly their problem and to take action. I suppose my rocky bottom on the wild ride of midget fetishism was my rental of the film Bloodsucking Freaks. This is a modern classic of trashy filmmaking, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. The loose premise of the film revolved around young, helpless, half-naked women being gruesomely tortured by (that's right) a midget. I'm not proud to say I rented this movie, and even less proud to say I enjoyed it. That midget was a pint-sized dynamo, a horribly skewed Jerry Lewis. He was brilliantly hilarious, and he was obviously enjoying himself immensely. Disregarding all conventional acting tradition, he made no attempt to pretend the camera didn't exist. He would look directly into the lens and laugh a horrible, bone-chilling cackle through yellow, crooked teeth. I think he may have acted in the film for free, he seemed to be enjoying himself that much.
I suppose the only saving grace for me, if there can be one in this instance, is that I couldn't watch the entire movie. Somehow, seeing women exploited didn't sit so well in my stomach. But seeing a midget exploited? Comedy gold.
Addicts who hit rock bottom don't always kick their vice right away. Some keep to their habit, using it like a pathetic, disintegrating crutch, while they hobble about in a thinly disguised panic. I was no exception. I knew I had done something "dirty" by enjoying that film. I had crossed a line and could never go back again. But it took the event of me running over a midget on my bicycle in front of many witnesses to check myself into midget rehab.
I was riding my bike a lot in those days, and was pretty good at it. I could get anywhere in the city in small time. This particular day I was heading to a friend's house to attend a potluck dinner. She lived at the bottom of a hill. At the top of that hill was the fateful intersection. As I approached, the light turned yellow. I was already making good time, and I stood up on the pedals to get that extra burst of speed in order to beat the light. The mailbox and garbage can on the corner concealed the midget too well. I would have seen any normal sized person, even a really short one, in time to brake or at least swerve. But this wasn't a regular sized person. This was a midget.
Apparently, he too saw the light change, and bolted out into the street, convinced he could make it. He didn't look. He didn't make it either. He ran right out into the path of whizzing, two-wheeled fate. I hit him hard. REAL hard.
For anyone who wishes to know what this experience is like, imagine riding a bicycle at top speed, as fast as you can right into a tree stump. Don't apply the brakes, just careen right into it. That's roughly what this collision was like. Due to his lower center of gravity, he didn't have far to fall. I, however, took the brunt of the impact. I sailed over the handlebars, taking the bike with me, into that vast, slow-motion expanse I described earlier.
Afterward, I loped down the hill, not quite sure what to make of the incident. I arrived at my friend's house shortly thereafter. She opened the door.
"You will NEVER believe what just happened."
[* Although this account is absolutely true and entirely written by me, I feel compelled to inform you, gentle reader, that it is taken from a former blog housed in a site that rhymes with the words SighPlace.com. Since SighPlace is a dying scene and doesn't support blogging quite as easily or nicely as our friends at Google, I've decided to relocate it here. If you've read this before in another location, I apologize for wasting your time. If this is the first time you've heard of my traumatic event, feel free to leave feedback. In the future, I will indicate at the end of any reproduced blog updates (and there are many) the fact that they are relocationed entries with a far less verbose explanation. That is all. Thanks for your patronage.]
(originally published 12/27/2006)