guest blog post #2: phil

so it’s been an interesting month and change around skypalace. in my fantastical hopes of getting more timely blog posts out to y’all in the new year, i was conspired upon by said newest of years to not make it so. ergo, it’s february and here’s the first post. but, i have a good excuse… and, to explain it to you i present the first of what i hope are many guest posts by my valentine, phil (a.k.a. fill_space). 

Risky Business

Remember Risky Business with Tom Cruise? No? Me too not. Never saw it, or if I did, I did that thing I do where along with my fellow goldfish I forget a movie by the time the ending credits roll. Still, through cultural osmosis I did manage to absorb the scene where Cruise slides into the camera view in socks and undies and starts lip-synching Old Time Rock and Roll.

Like this (click to view):

Great scene, but I never did understand what was so risky about the whole business. 

Until a month ago.

My re-enactment of the scene had nothing to do with lip-synching in undies (I had pants on, at least) and everything to do with a ferocious gunfight. My enemy combatant was a 10-year-old of ill repute and no mercy, armed to the teeth with a Nerf gun and a bottomless supply of foam bullets. We had agreed to a 20-minute battle on a cool Friday evening. So cool it was that I decided to keep my socks on so my feet could stay warm. It’s only 20 minutes, I’d be careful not to slip on the wood floors.

It’s only 20 minutes!

The battle commenced, and I *was* careful, deftly negotiating turns about our kitchen and adjacent rooms, holding my own against the mortal enemy and his unrelenting attacks.

For a good five minutes, I was the epitome of caution.

Then the mercenary appeared at my heels unexpectedly. Can’t quite tell you exactly why this surprised me. We were in the midst of a damn Nerf battle, after all, so I shouldn’t have been expecting a singing telegram at that point. Regardless, Evil Assailant appeared suddenly and at point-blank range, leaving me no recourse but to initiate evasive kitchen maneuvers at warp speed.

“Down goes Lauder!” the announcer would have said. Stockinged feet went left, rest of me went right. Right into the floor. 

“Oh no,” I said some 50 times in a row, clutching my ankle. I remember thinking, Oh no, I cannot afford to get hurt here. Oh no, I’m the only one who goes out in the world, my family needs me. Oh no, why the hell did I keep my socks on!

My wife and boy helped me stand on one foot, from which position I hopped to the couch. It hurt, sure, but not like crazy, no shooting pain, and I could move my foot side to side and up and down, so I was reasonably sure it wasn’t broken. Probably just a humdinger of a bruise. Worst case maybe a sprain. Still, I knew better than to put weight on it.

Iced it at intervals the rest of the night, all the next day. A nurse friend told me you probably didn’t break it if it didn’t hurt badly, but if it doesn’t improve in a couple days you’ll want to get it checked.

Two days later it looked worse, pretty colors, balloon shape. Went to Urgent Care. Once the X-rays came back negative, they’d throw a splint on and I’d be on my way. I’d hobble a week or so, but I’d get back quickly to driving, shopping, interacting with the world, all the things I alone do in this household. And that would be that.

“Got your X-ray back, Mr. Lauder. See this dark gap here? You broke your ankle. Leg, actually. Fibula, right here where it meets the ankle.”


I looked closely for the smile on the doc’s face, waiting for the slap on the back. “Just kidding! Had you there, didn’t I?!”

Smile never happened. Slap, either.

See that gap on the left? You don't want that.

“OK, now what?”

“We’ll get you an appointment with an orthopedist, get you fitted for a cast. You’ll probably be wearing it for 6 to 8 weeks.”

Oh no.

“Oh no” turned into oh something else the next day when the orthopedic nurse told me I’d need to talk to a trauma surgeon instead.

A SURGEON? One of those cutty-cutty people?

Let me interrupt at this point to mention that I have a strained relationship with All Things Medical. When we avoid each other, Medical and I, we get along great, we’re solid. When Medical gets in my face, on the other hand, “down goes Lauder” is always a possibility. It’s happened before.

So in case there’s a question in your mind, “surgeon” was not what I wanted to hear.

Nor was what Mr. Surgeon told me the next day: “You’ve got two options here, Mr. Lauder. #1, no surgery, we put you in a cast. Once we remove it, you’ll have pain in your ankle the rest of your life. You said you play racquetball? You won’t be playing racquetball.

“Option 2: surgery. Outpatient, 45-minute procedure, no general anesthesia, we put in a small plate and some screws, cinch it up, couple weeks with a splint, couple weeks with a walking boot, you’re back to normal. No pain, do everything you did before.”

Well, heck, that’s no choice at all, even for a medical-phobe. 

Bring on The Knife.

Surgery was set for January 15. It would be the first IV of my life, the anticipation of which was sub-optimal, many fold worse than the pain. But I made it through. And the surgery itself... well, they give you this miracle drug, Versed, that makes you remember NOTHING of the procedure. It’s like that gadget in Men In Black that obliterates your recollection of monsters forever. (Yes, the person who remembers nothing of movies remembers the memory-erasing device from a movie.) First I was getting wheeled in and seeing an operating room for the first time, then they asked me to show them my leg, then they said Beth was downstairs ready to pick me up. Wait, what? Amazing. Wish I could retroactively take Versed in a few other situations in my life. Like those alien abductions. The second one, anyway.

The best part of the experience was actually the advice Mr. Surgeon gave during our initial consultation. “Do yourself a favor and get a knee scooter. It’s not covered by insurance, but it’s worth it.” 

Sager words were never spoken.

This is a knee scooter.

This is me on a knee scooter.

This is a young boy, aka Evil Assailant, on a knee scooter.

This is me on my first test drive. (I got faster over time.)

This is me playing tennis on a knee scooter a couple days after surgery.

Knee scooters rock! Instead of miserably ka-clunk, ka-clunking my way around in crutches at a top speed of minus one, causing a pile-up of snails behind me giving me the antenna, I zoom around here like I own the place. Which, come to think of it, I do.

Seriously, this little buggy changes the whole experience of being hobbled. I call mine Steed. Trusty Steed and I gallop everywhere together. It’s a blast. You should get one! It’s possible you don’t have to break your leg to do so, but it does help justify the expense.

As a public service, once I’m back on my feet I’ll be going around the neighborhood offering to break people’s legs. “Hey, good morning, I’m your neighbor Phil from up the street. How’s your day going?” I’ll say, slapping the crowbar into my palm. “Look, this will suck at first. I’ll be honest, it’ll hurt you more than it hurts me. But afterward you’ll get yourself a knee scooter. You’ll thank me!”

My final doctor’s appointment is sometime this week, not sure when (2 days, 2 hours, 15 minutes, 42 seconds), and with luck there will be no more gap on the X-ray and Mr. Surgeon will tell me I’m good to go. You know, if someone had told me I HAD to commit felony stupid and break my leg, well, I’d say this whole thing has gone pretty well. Never had pain after the initial bang and oh no’s, never needed the heavy-artillery narcotics offered after surgery. Along the way I found that I can handle an IV, a significant lesson learned and sure to be of benefit when further infirmities greet me in my old[er] age. And I learned that any excuse for zooming around on a vehicle inside the house is worth it. Also, one more lesson learned, DON’T BLOODY RUN IN SOCKS ON A WOOD FLOOR. It’s risky business, that floor-sliding  thing.

During our consultation, Mr. Surgeon told me that once I healed up, I could recoup most of what I paid for the knee scooter by selling it on Craigslist.

Fat chance!


  1. Ouch! I'm very sorry to hear that happened. A close friend of mine (you remember Patti?) broke her back a couple months ago by falling when she going down wooden stairs with socks on. So I hope everyone heeds your warning! And I agree with your cutty-cutty doctor that you can recoup most of what you paid for your knee scooter by selling it on Craigslist (or Nextdoor or Facebook Marketplace). (Let me know if you want me to sell it for you on Facebook Marketplace since I know you're not on Facebook.)

    1. Oops, just noticed my typo. I wish I could edit.

    2. Yikes, very sorry to hear about Patti! Hope she makes a full and quick recovery. Socks + wood = pain! I'll keep your selling offer in mind, thanks, Ali.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Any chance you could fly that crowbar out to Colorado so I too can use the really fun looking knee scooter? Wait, was there another message to your story? Hmm.

    1. Absolutely. I think the postal service has a special rate for sending leg-bashing paraphernalia so I'll use that and save a few bucks. Nope, no other message -- you know me so well!

  3. Worth waiting for your first person account, Phil, of the future knee scooter inducing incident. Glad that it's worked out so well for you (not the least of which is discovering tolerance of some things medical). Looking forward to hearing/reading of your next adventure!

    1. Thanks for commenting, Lynne. Although it has worked out reasonably well, pretty sure if I had to do it over I'd go ahead and spend the extra four seconds to take off my flippin' socks. Much as OJ is devoting his life to finding the killer, I'll devote mine to campaigning against sock-footed wood-floor locomotion.

  4. Holy crap. The equation reads something like SOCKS + SLIDEY FLOOR (to the power of Ninja) = STEED. It's quite basic, silly. And hey, We Who Wheel recognize cool contraptions when we witness whem. (couldn't wesist) and, THAT wheelie device looks extremely cool. Does it corner like its on rails? I'm going to get one and figure a way to use it instead of my boring ole symetrical buggy. You've inspired me. I'm on CraigsList right now looking for a model for those who broke BOTH ankles. .KNEE SCOOTER or bust!

    1. I appreciate your math skills, fellow Wheeled Traveler. Yes, it corners like a Porsche. Goes 0 to 60 in, well, not very quickly but its awesomeness remains above reproach. Best of luck finding a two-seater!

  5. Hey Phil, great story and even better attitude!! Though not a Howard Cosell fan, I did love the modified reference to "Down Goes Lauder"! Just once again shows that we are all "maturing" a little more every day. We miss you all and hope that sometime in 2021 it will be safe to get together again. Sending you, Beth and the "Evil Assailant" virtual hugs. Virtual hugs suck but hug each other to make it feel real. We love you all. Glenn and Nancy.

    1. Didn't think many would get the fleeting Cosell reference there so I'm glad you picked up on that, Glenn. I didn't have Nancy's email so please share the tale with her if you're so inspired. Love back to you guys, looking forward to seeing you once this scourge abates.

  6. As a fellow temporary one-legger, I recommend, in addition to the wondrous scooter, the "peg". Straps on and permits walking. Helpful for stairs and other places where a scooter isn't conveniently to hand.

    1. I did not know of your one-leggedness! I have crutches positioned near the four stairs in our house; that's the only place I use them. I hope someone has documented your peg-legging because this I have to see!

  7. Playing tennis 2 days after? In a flip-flop no less? Does your doctor know this?

    1. I'll admit I conveniently forgot to mention that detail to the doc. Honestly, I stretched the definition of "playing" there. If someone hits the ball to the six inches of my swing zone, I swing and it may go forward, it may go sideways, it may go straight into the ground. Otherwise I watch it go past. I could wear a swim fin on the other foot and it would make no difference.

  8. Glad to hear you are healing well! My rule is no shoes in th house. Maybe I’ll update that to include socks!

    1. Shoes aren't a safety hazard. Socks'll get you laid up or killed! Yes, I do suggest updating that rule. Or you could post "House Rules" and "Phil Rules." I'd be honored.


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