So, hereís how it happens. Iím reading Nora Ephronís book ďI
Feel Bad about my Neck.Ē In fact, itís laying on the car seat
beside me as I wind up the two-lane highway that connects
downtown Pacific Grove to Highway One. The road winds through
Monterey Pines, past cliffs, sheer drops, shards of glass and
car parts from previous car wrecks.
thinking to myself, ďGee, Iíve driven this road for 33 years and
never actually seen an accident. I know there are some doozies
because the paper says so. But, still, Iíve never seen one . .
I didnít see this one either, although I saw it coming. It was
high noon on Saturday and there was lots of traffic. I was
heading up the hill to a spiritual group meeting when I saw a
large silver car, heading down the highway, lose control on a
curve. What happened next was, in reality, nanoseconds, but
there is a suspension of time in an accident. You know that or
else youíre one lucky soul.
Anyway, the car swung in an arc and, like a tortured bull, was
headed straight for me. All I could think of was getting away
from it. Moving forward so heíd hit behind me, or pulling to the
right so heíd miss me. But I was up against a cliff and there
really wasnít anything to do but imagine my massacre.
crash was so deafening, so forceful, directly into my door with
the might of a freight train, that my whole body recoiled in
indignation that a force so huge dare assault me. Then a surreal
silence. At the moment of impact I saw stars (not the movie ones
Iím used to interviewing) and my whole spine was in mortal pain.
I instinctively grabbed hold of the right side of my neck to
immobilize it, as I had received a sideways S-shaped whiplash,
snapping from the driverís seat over into the passenger seat Ė
held back by my seatbelt and shoulder harness, which, I might
add, bruised me like a 5-day old banana.
sure my neck, shoulder or back was broken. And while I couldnít
move if Iíd wanted to, I groped blindly with my free left hand,
holding my neck and staring straight ahead, to roll down the
window or unlock the car door. I was terrified that I would be
hit again and again from behind, since I was on a blind curve.
Nothing would budge. I even had the insane thought that I could
unfasten my seat belt and hop into the other seat and buckle up
to prepare myself for more violations.
Hysterically, I pounded on the window crying and shouting, ďHelp
me! Help me!Ē as I saw people pulled over up ahead and could
hear them rushing around behind me to attend to the man who had
hit me. Who was coming to rescue me? Such a feeling of
abandonment I have never known.
then, the first angel arrived. A smooth-skinned, dark-haired
young woman in a melon colored shirt had squeezed through the
passenger side door and was holding my hand and stroking away my
tears and saying, ďItís going to be OK. Sh-h-h. Itís going to be
had put herself in harmís way to be with me, since there could
still be a multiple car pile-up.
she told me she and her husband were visitors from San
Francisco, I begged her to leave here name Ė but she didnít. I
hope she reads this column and contacts me. I can tell you this:
there is human kindness overflowing in this world. Most people
do want to help each other.
Anyway, after what seemed like hours, yet it must have been
minutes because I was only a couple blocks away from the
hospital, the paramedics came and shooed her out of the car.
Thus, entered my second angel: a Latex gloved woman who held my
hand while they checked my vitals and slapped a stiff plastic
collar on my neck.
Apparently, they tried using the Jaws of Life to pry my door
open but that very door, made by stalwart Germans, would not
she threw a huge plastic tarp around my body and said sheíd
crawl under it and stay with me while they bashed out the
the glass shattered two inched from my head after the crash was
another Salvador Dali experience, but they managed to get me
strapped onto a long board and jostle and bump me (Ouch! Ouch!
Ouch!) into the ambulance beside the man who had hit me.
couldnít turn my head to see him but I knew he was there because
he was talking to the paramedics. Then, and I swear I truly will
be dead the day I stop making wisecracks, I said Ė in shock,
mind you Ė ďWell, you sure made my day!Ē
later apologized, as they told me he had been in diabetic shock,
but he managed to say, ďDonít worry, Iíve got insurance.Ē
Thereafter, I was placed in a hospital bed while still contorted
on the horrible board (I wanted so badly to have support under
the curve of my neck) until they could x-ray me.
I was freezing, as is the case when youíre in shock, but no one
thought to lay a blanket on me until . . .
third angel showed up. Her name is Annie and she is my best
friend and power of attorney for health care as well. Mere
minutes after the hospital called her, she materialized at my
bed foot and loaded me down with a show drift of heated white
wore an x-ray apron while holding me for the spine photos. And I
remembered the time I held her foot as she underwent a brain CAT
Friends are there for each other.
bim, bada boom! Sprained spine, carbuncles, contusions and
bruises later, I can only say that Iím amazed to be alive. When
the insurance company asked me to remove my belongings from my
banged up Beemer I visited the place where they had towed it and
Beem, Beem,Ē I sobbed. ďIím sorry I ever called you Humpty
Dumpty (after everything that could go wrong with a new car did
and the manís who hit me were both total losses by the insurance
company. How did I escape with my life?
Which leads me to
this: I feel badly about my neck; Iím suffering the worst
continuous insomnia Iíve had since my mother died 13 years ago;
my paranoia tells me that every car on the road is out to get me
(scratch the paranoia, they really are) and I canít focus worth
beans. The crash shook up my car-mic energy plane as well as my
But I have such
gratitude, that every morning when I awake, I think of one thing
Iím grateful for with each letter of the alphabet.
I tell myself that
life is a gift, and staying in the ďnowĒ is the ďpresent.Ē
Thereís more work for me to do: on myself, with others, and with
my talents. Some days post CA (car accident) I feel heady with
the power of renewal. Other days, I am deeply vulnerable and the
world looks more dangerous than ever.
nothing like a near death experience to straighten you out on
whatís important in life. And itís not material objects.
However, with that
said, I have a new used BMW because Iím convinced that those
armored car doors spared my life and Iím not going to drive a
golf cart (dinky little cars, you know who you are) to tempt the
universe . . .
Wook at the Wong-Eared Wabbit Wun!
above is actually what I said as a toddler. Mommie told me so.
That is, when she was alive to praise and brood over me. I miss
her so sometimes.
Anyway, Iím not ready to be a Velveteen Rabbit yet, even though
the fur has been rubbed almost off me. Male pattern balding is
what my Ob/Gyn calls it. So I use this shampoo that is supposed
to help my thinning hair grow or at least not fall out.
donít think itís working.
Yesterday, as an experiment, I combed back my short, layered
hair and sleeked on a sweat band to see if pulling my hair
straight back would give me a mini face lift.
did. But the horror is this: two inches below the band, where
there used to be solid hair, there is nothing but scalp and
clumps of Fuzzy Wuzzy (as in, ďwas a bear, had no hair, wasnít
very fuzzy, was he?Ē)!
used to marvel at how gorgeous I was with my hair pulled
straight back into a ponytail or French twist or chignon. Now I
am a sitting duck for wig sales people.
sisters donít seem to have this problem. And my parents werenít
uncommonly bald. Why me?
itís from all the years of pulling my butt-length gleaming hair
into ponytails. Maybe itís from tearing my hair out over so many
serial monogamies gone awry. Maybe itís retribution from God for
my narcissistic attitude, for taking my tresses for granted. Who
the many confoundments (I just invented that word) of aging is
that you lose hair in the places you want it to stay, and it
starts sprouting up in places you dread: ears, nose, the
knuckles on your toes, a renegade straying down from your bikini
line, mustache, nipples, Lincolnís facial beard and Ė horrors of
horrors Ė that lone, spiky, tenacious one that sprouts down from
your chin. The worst part being, you are now too blind to see
recently sat across from an aging super model and, impeccably
groomed from her tipped nails to her manicured toes, her make-up
done by Bobby Brown and her hair by Sassoon, she had, Iím not
kidding ďThe Hair.Ē
restrained myself from mentioning it and, especially, from
leaping across the table and yanking it out.
tell you this: Iíve pledged my best girlfriend to tell me if one
of these critters ever attaches itself to my chin. The only
problem is - if her visionís as bad as mine, she wonít notice it
. . .