Riding on top of a car is never a good idea. No, cars are meant to be ridden inside. But sometimes, you don’t have a choice. You’re just sitting on a trunk having a good time, and the next thing you know you’re performing backwards somersaults at alarming speeds.
The year was 1995 and I was nearly done grade 9. My friends and I hung out at the same place as an older group did, mostly due to connections through siblings. They were all around 18 years of age and had their driver’s license, which made them immensely cool in our books.
On many Friday nights, our unwritten tradition was to take a trip to Taco Bell before heading home. In the town that I grew up there were no Taco Bells, so a 15-minute drive was needed to get to the closest location in the neighbouring city. None of us were Taco Bell aficionados per se. It was really just an excuse for a bunch of teens to pile into our friend’s cars and make a mini road trip.
Careful Where You Park (Your Butt)
The fateful night was during the early spring. The weather was warming up and we were milling around outside before making a run for the border. One of the older guys, we’ll call him M, and I were talking as we approached another friend’s 1990 Toyota Camry. The driver, we’ll call him J, was sitting in the car in a parking spot, nose first, idling. M said something along the lines of ‘let’s not let J leave’ and jumped on the car’s trunk. Thinking this was both a clever and completely reasonable idea, I jumped up and sat beside him.
Well, J called our bluff. He backed out of the parking spot slowly and instead of jumping off the car, M said hang on. I had no idea what was about to happen, but I assumed it would be shenanigans and to not-quite-15-year-old Mike, that sounded fantastic.
After waiting a few seconds for us to jump off, J put it in drive and floored it. All 119 hp came to life and the Camry began chugging down the parking lot. Realizing what I was in for, I reached backed trying to find anything to hold on to. But damn those talent engineers in the late 1980s, there was virtually no gap between the trunk lid and the rear window. I tried to stuff my fingers in the crevasse, but to no avail.
I was beginning to slip off the trunk and made a split-second decision. Instead of falling off the car, I would jump and control my landing. It sounded like a brilliant idea at the time, so I hopped off the car.
Everything Slows Down
I stuck the landing, square on my feet, back facing the car. If it were a competition, I would have received a perfect 10 scored. For a millisecond thought I had pulled it off. But then momentum caught up with me and hurled me rearward.
I’ve told this story dozens of times over the years and swear the car was travelling well over 40 km/h when I jumped off. In reality, it was probably slower, but it felt like I tumbled a dozen times over a span of five minutes. Onlookers said I really only did about two backward somersaults. Out of sheer instinct, I had thrown my left hand over my head to protect it during my rolls.
I ended up face down on the road, taking stock of what just happened and doing a quick system check on all my various body parts. I had zero road rash and by all accounts felt mostly fine. My left wrist was hurting a bit, but It wasn’t excruciating. My friends by this time had run up to me to see if I was ok. M was also slowly making his way back towards me, having fallen off the car further down the parking lot but coming out of it unscathed.
Hiding my throbbing wrist, I said I was all good and ready to head to Taco Bell.
One Armed Taco
By the time we arrived at Taco Bell, the pain in my wrist had increased and moving it was becoming hard to accomplish. I still remember sitting at the table, eating the tacos with my right hand and while my left arm lay straight and limp on the table. I guess I hadn’t really noticed but my friend looked at it and mentioned it was swelling twice its normal size.
Asked if it hurts, I couldn’t lie and said, ‘oh yeah’. She poked and prodded it a bit and the pain was immense. It was then decided I should probably go home and head to the hospital to have it looked at. I agreed, but not until I finished my Fries Supreme.
Hi Dad, So, About My Arm…
I was dropped off at my driveway and I think my friends got the hell out of there before I could even close the car door. I entered my house and luckily my Dad was still up watching the late game. He saw me standing in the hallway, with my coat still on and asked what was going on.
I believe the exact conversation went along the lines of me mentioning we needed to go the ER because I fell off a car and maybe broke my arm. My Dad gave me that classic ‘You Idiot’ look and put on his coat.
At the hospital I don’t remember much other than getting to pick the colour of my cast and my Dad ensuring I tell the doctor how exactly I came to be in this predicament. I would be in the cast for many weeks and was really only bummed I missed the start of the baseball season. Oh, and trying to operate a stern-drive aluminum fishing boat was a real bitch as well.
So kids, let this be a lesson to you. Like they say on Safari, stay inside the car at all times.