Monday, May 20, 2013
My Helmet Saved My Life
Last night I had a bit of a horse wreck. I’m okay. I’m assuming I’m okay since I’m walking. That must mean there aren’t any broken bones. But it hurt. I hit hard. I hit so hard I peed myself. I landed on my back and slammed my head. Twice. My head actually bounced and I picked up a couple of pounds of dirt in my clothes and my orifices—mouth, nose, ears—while I continued the forward motion and skidded towards home on my back, head first.
Luckily we were already past the timer when Lowdown decided that this was fun and yee-ha, he had a couple of bucks in him. (I got second place.) Unluckily, I wasn’t expecting it and there was no warning or else I think I could have stayed on. But it happened so fast, I didn’t even know what happened. Usually, if a horse starts bucking, I experience a couple of seconds of panic where I’m struggling to maintain my seat and the ground or the sky is flashing by. Sometimes I’m even riding side-saddle for a stride or two. Not real side-saddle but I’m hanging off the side of a saddle by one leg and a prayer, so I call that side-saddle. Then I manage to somehow pull myself back on. The last few times my horse bucked (not always the same horse, just in general—whenever I have been on a bucking horse), I was able to pull myself back on and keep my seat. One time it was pure luck. Harley bucked, I went off, actually went up in the air, and then I fell back down on him in just the right spot, landed smack dab in the middle of my saddle with a big plump! before he took off running. My feet even slipped right back into the stirrups like they’d never been disengaged. That was lucky.
This time I’m lucky I’m not dead. That’s how hard my head hit. I felt it in slow motion—Clunk! Clunk!—and in that split second, my brain, well protected and safe, and therefore still able to do its job, thought Thank god I wear a helmet now!
I never used to wear a helmet. I used to say they were uncomfortable. I used to say it interfered with my vision when I had one on and I couldn’t hear well. Though helmets don’t block your eyes or your ears. I don’t know how I thought anybody would believe that, but that’s what I was shoveling. The real reason is, I was too vain. They look dorky. I’m not going to lie. I still think they are dorky-looking. Even though I wear one now. I look like a big dorky egg-head when I’m wearing my helmet. No more sexy cowgirl galloping across the field of buttercups, long blonde hair flowing in the breeze…. No more cool rodeo chick in fringe shirt, blingy belt, and cowboy hat—black in winter, straw for the summer…. No more of that. The party is over. On top of my figure mysteriously changing shape, thickening around the middle since I’ve gone into menopause like I’m suddenly melting (and maybe I am, if these hot flashes are any indication), I started wearing a dorky helmet. It is not sexy.
I had to do it for the kid. How could I keep making her wear one if I was not? I actually carried on like this for a few years—made her wear one but I didn’t. When she questioned me, I appealed to her sympathy—“I tried but I just could not get used to it! In my day, they didn’t have helmets!”
I urged her to do some critical thinking—“If I jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you want to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge too? ”
I used her grandmother—“Nana always said, ‘Two wrongs don’t make a right,’” looked sheepish, and lit up a cigarette. (I don’t smoke anymore either.)
But she never fought me on it. She was never allowed on a horse without a helmet from the time we started leading her around on Minnie when she was three-years-old and so I imagine her helmet is like a headstall to her—a necessary piece of equipment that you don’t think twice about and even if her mother doesn’t wear one, her mother’s stupidity is more of a conundrum than ammunition not to wear her own.
However, my hypocrisy bothered me. Now that she was older and she could look at me with admiration due to my behavior and not simply because I was her mother, or disapproval, I had to behave better. I decided to at least try one. Give it a good try. Not just throw on some extra helmet someone had lying around. Get the right one. Research which ones were comfortable, what would work best for me, and get the proper size. And that’s what I did. (FYI, I got a Tipperary.)
The day I found myself cooling out my horse with my helmet still on because I’d forgotten to take it off because it was so comfortable was the day I knew the bullshit was over and I was a helmet-wearer.
I’m not going to say it looks nice. I am no hot number with my hair blowing in the breeze anymore. But I have a head. And brains can be quite sexy.
Helmets come in many styles. Here is the cowboy hat with helmet built-in (is my head too big?), and my personal favorite, the shark.