Our friends, Ralph and Christy Ramsey with their daughter Hannah, came to visit us in Virginia. It was a week after our last big snow, and there was more than 16″ on the ground in some places. After they arrived on Thursday, we all were planning a great sledding extravaganza on Friday. Being from the Dallas area, it was a little surreal that they got 9″ of snow there on the day they were flying out.
Ralph and I have been great friends since Carolyn and I got married in 1992. They were a young couple at First Baptist Church Garland, Texas where I served first as a lowly youth intern and then as a lowly Singles & Young Adult Minister. After I discovered that Ralph was rather gullible, he became one of our circle of friends primary targets for practical jokes. That is, until we realized that there’s not much point in playing jokes on Ralph since he so often does it to himself.
Ralph seems to always get hurt whenever we’re up to something. If you could amputate your leg with a ballpoint pen and a feather, Ralph would manage to do it. In fact, I’m convinced that many of the inane warning labels we see on products these days are simply because of accident prone folks like Ralph. He’s also exceptionally good at putting his foot in his mouth – a talent that I love to exploit.
However, it did seem like a good idea at the time on Friday when he suggested we video our daughters and wives sledding down the hill. Then he threw in a twist. Let’s (that would be me, Sam and Ralph) lock arms at the base of the hill and play “sled chicken.”
We were sledding near Lark Lane where there was a huge, snow-packed hill, and you could achieve near Space Shuttle launch speeds coming down the hill with a mere piece of plastic under you. So Ralph set up the video camera behind us, and the three of us locked arms to face the sledding missiles.
My rationale went something like this:
- Humor Ralph and don’t shoot down one of his “ideas.”
- Take some great close ups of the girls coming down the hill with Carolyn’s fancy Canon which she had asked me to hold.
- The odds of us getting hit were minute. Most of us were falling off the sleds before we reached the point we were standing.
- Ralph’s ideas never work.
So there we stood. I’ve included the video again for your study of the event.
There are few observations I’d like to make about the incident above now that you’ve witnessed it:
- It is impossibly difficult to tell how fast someone is going on a sled heading towards you when you are zoomed in taking pictures of them.
- The response time of pulling the camera from your eyes, calculating the proximity of a rocketing sled, telling your body which way to go to avoid impact and then moving is almost negligible.
- If you should attempt to escape injury by leaping to the right where your son and friend are pushing you into the sled’s path, you will most likely fail.
- One’s feet are not meant to occupy the same space where one’s head was previously in a 2 second span.
- A Canon D40 with zoom lens does not make an adequate cushion for your ribs but in fact can survive such an impact with no adverse affects.
- A 42 year-old man’s ribs are able to absorb a Canon D40 mass impression without breaking.
- It’s disconcerting to hear one’s daughter more concerned about the aforementioned camera than she is her father who is lying a quivering mass of wounded flesh.
Now, watch this version of the video in order for me to point out a few more observations that are only intelligible in slow motion:
- My wife’s and Christy ear-to-ear evil grins.
- How high my feet got.
- The sudden realization after I bring the camera down from my eyes that I am in trouble.
- Ralph’s bracing himself to push me into the path of the sled.
- How narrowly Sam missed being plowed over as well.
Ralph was supremely proud of himself. Heck, I would have been too. It was a flawless plan and execution. The odds of that happening are astronomical – especially with the two of us involved.
Now that you know “the rest of the story,” I hope you agree with me that I am in no way to be second-guessed for my participation in the incident. It was all a fluke. You would do the same thing if you were in my shoes. Right?