Sunday, June 9, 2019

“Whoa!” by Brian Henry

So here’s the thing I've discovered: a genuine sports injury is awesome. So awesome I wonder how I could have gone my whole life without knowing this.
     I suppose because I’ve made my living by reading and writing. A physical workout meant wandering off to the kitchen and staring into an open fridge while contemplating how to give a story a satisfying ending. Sometimes this involved tuneless humming. Sometimes remembering what I’d come to the kitchen for. Sometimes not.
     On no occasions did such workouts require me to twist my body in strange ways. In my professional life, I may have moved a few manuscripts from shelf to shelf, but I’d never crawled along a wall, groping for the next toe-hold. I may have dropped a pen in exasperation, but I never missed a toe-hold and then dropped 14 feet to the mat below.
     So is it any wonder I strained some delicate tissue in my leg? I mean, did anyone really think I was cut out for indoor rock climbing? Certainly not me.
     It was my teenage son’s latest mania. He can scoot up a wall like Spiderman. He can spring from one fingerhold to the next, pause for a rest and chalk up his hands while taking all his weight on this toes, which are dug into mere scratches in the wall.
     Hmm, I thought, maybe rock climbing would be a good father-son activity. Or maybe not. I didn’t know if I could do this climbing thing. At all. Would I be able to scramble up even a baby wall?
     Turns out I can. Not as nimbly as when I was ten years old – which is when I was last into climbing things – but I wasn’t a total bust.
     “Not bad.” William nodded, looking impressed. Or maybe just surprised.
     Then we moved on past the baby wall. And of course that’s when I twisted something.
     It wasn’t agony. It didn’t even stop me climbing. Really it only hurt if I bent my leg past a certain point. But in subsequent days, I found out the point of pain was the exact bend of the leg required for driving.
     I drive a lot – from Toronto to weekly classes in Mississauga, Oakville, Burlington, to Saturday workshops in Kitchener, Niagara, Sudbury – ah, Sudbury, that’s a long drive. I did a lot of uncomfortable squirming behind the wheel.
     But the compensation!
     “Oh, yeah, I injured myself – rock climbing, eh?”
     It’s delicious – both a whimper and at boast at the same time.
     “You poor baby,” my wife said.
     “Poor baby,” my friends said. Well not those words, but that was the sentiment.
     And they also said: “Whoa! Rock climbing! When’d you take that up?”
     My therapist can’t figure out why this injury is still bothering me. “Are you really doing your exercises? she asks.
     “Yes,” I say. “Yes, I am. And in truth I’m fine now. But it’s my first sports injury. I’m not letting it go.

Brian Henry is a writer, editor, and creative writing instructor, and he publishes the Quick Brown Fox blog. But athletic, he’s not. Brian read this piece at our most recent author reading day at the Wallace Gastropub in Toronto. 

See Brian’s schedule hereincluding Saturday writing workshops, weekly writing classes, and weekend retreats in Algonquin Park, Alliston, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Georgetown, Georgina, Guelph, Jackson’s Point, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Midland, Mississauga, New Tecumseth, Oakville, Ottawa, St. Catharines, Sudbury, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.


  1. Very entertaining story, Brian. I took my daughter and her friends rock climbing once but wisely stayed off the wall!

  2. Oh Brian, that was good! I think you should post way more often and continue to use the injury as a stepping off point (no pun intended) Can't wait to see you in the Fall here in lovely distant Sudbury

  3. Glad you’re all better now but milking a sports injury vs a shifting of manuscripts from shelf to shelf injury can be quite perilous. Hilarious!

  4. You are right to own it! You did it, man and that's all the info you need give :)


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