Content-type: text/html Ray Manning

Monday, May 22, 2000 7:12 AM

Forwarded Message of the Weekend Activities


It didn't seem like a large bump on the head, but it must have been. It was one of those little bumps where you see stars for about 3 seconds and then, except for a bit of pain, everything is okay. It wasn't even enough to put ice on and five minutes later I had forgotten about it. So I go to sleep on Wednesday knowing that I'll be riding my bicycle to work the next day for National Bike To Work day. I have trouble sleeping and this should be the first indication that something is wrong.

Thursday morning sees a good 16 mile ride to work and a fairly productive day. When I suit up and get ready to ride home on Thursday evening, I see that the rear tire on the bicycle is very soft. I pump it up and rationalize that it is a slow leak and that I can make it home without having to stop and change the inner tube. But as I arrive home, I do stop - at the liquor store riding my bike into the store to the cooler to pick up a 7-Up. And I ride to the liquor store counter (I do not want to leave a bicycle unattended for even a minute at this liquor store.) to ask for the whiskey that goes with the 7-Up. As I get home, ready to rehydrate, the first thing that crosses my lips after the second 16 mile ride of the day is not a kiss from Nopey, but rather a mixture of whiskey and 7-Up. Who needs ice cold water to rehydrate? Needless to say, Thursday evening is a blur.

But contrary to expectations of being able to sleep well from the two bicycle rides and the liquor, I have more trouble sleeping on Thursday night. And this should be my second indication of trouble.

Friday morning I know that I'm in trouble. As I get out of bed, I almost tip over and fall against the wall. And I have trouble making it to the bathroom for a shower without stabilizing myself against the walls. And taking the shower, holding on to the walls for support, I start to realize that this is not from drinking. No, these are the same symptoms that I had when I had the concussions in July 1996 and September 1997. But it certainly did not seem like much of a bump in the head on Wednesday when I accidentally (and being sober, I might add) ran into a door frame. With some difficulty, I finish the shower and actually need to stabilize myself as I dress and walk through the house. With care and deliberate attention, I select my mode of transportation to TRW - it is a motorcycle day. I make it to TRW with no problem, but then walk a staggering walk down the hallways of R8 to my office. And I am thankfull to make it to my office where I can sit down. By about noon the dizziness has disappearred - knowing that it may reappear in the mornings for quite some time.

It just didn't seem like much of a bump on the head.

Friday after work I babysit the kids. They play some video games, we play chess, and we talk about various subjects. Scott, who just turned 13, asks me some of the bad things that I did as a kid. The two stories that come readily to mind involve myself and friends throwing snowballs at cars and being chased by the car's occupants. And only getting caught and yelled at once. We go to Subway for dinner and John, who will be 10 in December, asks me if I have money. When I pull 26 cents out of my pocket, the attendants at Subway stop making our sandwiches and wait to see if we have more money. Seeing that I just made a trip to the ATM and that Mom and Dad just gave me $44 that they owed me for discount movie tickets, I open my wallet and lay out $264 on the counter. "Do you think that this is enough, John?" I ask while not looking at the Subway attendants for their reactions. John and I both agree that the three of us cannot eat $264 worth of Subway items today.

Mom and Dad, being considerate, know that they must return from their outing by about 10pm so that the Friday night Frat House ritual can be observed. And they oblige.

The ear plugs are a definite tonight (considering the recent head impact). A good crowd assembles. But, one by one, people of various sizes, races, and genders, who I have either "gone with" or asked out or been asked out by arrive. When I use up all of the fingers on both hands to count how many this applies to, I start looking for cover. I find that if I stand near a corner and sorta behind one of the video games, I can hide from a majority of these people. Sabrina, the HVAC, comes over to a mirror next to the video games to touch up her hair and makeup. I stand up on my toes and stretch as far vertical as I can so that my mouth is at Sabrina's ear level (Forget the Washington Monument heels - today's heels are as tall as the Empire State Building.) and say "You don't need to touch yourself up - you're beautiful!".

"Thank you! How nice. I saw your boyfriend last week. I thought you said he got hit by a rocket?"

"Oh, they called out a SWAT team to rescue ChiChi (I actually use the name ChiChi in this conversation) from Palestinian terrorists. What a nasty ordeal that must have been!"

Sabrina looks puzzled, but accepts the answer and leaves. Tai, who was previously referred to as "friend of a friend" is there for the first time in a long time. And I start the conversation with "How come you never call me?" - knowing full well that he doesn't have my telephone number. When he confirms this, I give him my number. And we go to a quieter place in the club so that we can talk. By now it is approaching 1am. While we're talking, ChiChi arrives, smiles at me, and continues on into the club. Later, ChiChi walks out of the club with a common acquaintance and hangs out on the patio. Tai leaves with his roommate and now I have a choice on how to handle the ChiChi situation. I quickly down-select the options to three:
1) The Detached Solution
Get up, walk out of the club, and leave - giving no acknowledgement or look over at ChiChi. Or maybe stare at ChiChi, establish eye contact, give a blank stare, and then leave.
2) The Dramatic Solution
Walk over to ChiChi, pour a 7-Up over his head, and start yelling and screaming about "never calling me" and treating me like a toy of convenience. Continue the loud, verbal onslaught until pulled away by the bouncers, the security guards, and/or the police.
3) The Professional Solution
Walk over to ChiChi, give him a big "This is what you're giving up" hug, say "It is really good to see you again" and "I hope you are doing well", and introduce myself to the common acquaintance and strike up a conversation with both. Continue using friendly smiles and eventually leave with a bounce in my walk.

Being the artistic type, I choose solution...

I don't have trouble sleeping on Friday night, but then, why should I? I get to sleep near 2am and get up at 5:40am.

Saturday I get two headaches but very little dizziness. But not enough to keep me from getting out for a good bicycle ride. I take one of Long Beach's finest busses to a party at night. (In case I drank, which I didn't, I wanted to be able to get home and the bus running directly down Atlantic was so convenient.) I ride the bus south on Atlantic through gangland territory and, as an afterthought, realize that I was the only white person on the bus. I have to walk about 12 blocks to the party because the Atlantic bus doesn't go all the way to Ocean Blvd near the party. At the party, I actually see a few "regulars" from the Frat House. I ignore them. I leave the party and walk the 12 blocks - through the area where homeless and rehab (and non-rehab people for that matter) hang out - back to the convenient bus stop. When riding the bus home late on Saturday night, one of the same people who was riding the bus south with me gets on the bus for the ride north. I notice because he is wearing a black Dallas Cowboys jersey even though the Dallas Cowboys never wore black. One guy gets on the bus carrying a fairly large brown paper bag of liquor bottles - though I cannot make out what kind in case I wanted to ask if he was going to share.

On Sunday I get out for another bicycle ride. While cresting a little hill on the Los Angeles River trail, I see a horse squirming around in the middle of the bicycle trail. (Seeing horses in the trail is not surprising because there are certain sections where the horse trail shares the right of way with the bicycles. But they are usually under control of their riders.) I apply the brakes, squeeze to the extreme right of the trail, and stop to let the rider get control of the horse and pass. As it passes, I notice that the rider, while not being able to control the horse, is talking on a cellphone. (Maybe dialing 1- 976-HORSE-HELP.)