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Paul Paradise

Nose (re)injury

When I was much younger, I managed to hurt my nose pretty badly in a stupid athletic way.

My swim club at the time reserved one day of practice to be a “fun day” in which we held a mock swimming meet against our parents. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the kids could soundly beat the parents in any swimming race, but it was interesting to see the parent’s reaction – they cheated to keep up with us. Of course, the young, impressionable kids that we were, decided to cheat back.

I was on a 266-yard relay event, where each swimmer swam 2 lengths of the 33-yard pool. Instead of the usual technique where you time jumping off the starting block just as the prior swimmer touches the wall, we were diving in a bit early – say, when the prior swimmer hit the 33-yard mark. The swimmer before me in the relay never competed with goggles, preferring being blind in the water to the chance of a highly annoying malfunctioning goggle. I always wore goggles, but my dive happened to be one that resulted in a malfunctioning goggle, now filled with water instead of air. Imagine, if you will, two blind swimmers, racing as fast as they can towards each other. I was one of those blind swimmers – at impact, my nose hit his forehead. Thank goodness for chlorine – there was plenty of my blood to go around, and I think my nose has always been a bit bigger because of it.

This past weekend, I managed to repeat my sports stupidity.

I was skiing with my friends Nick and Amanda at Snoqualmie – my second time up this winter, which probably sets a single-season attendance record for me. Nick has been skiing since he was 2, but Amanda and I were both relative beginners. I’d mastered the bunny hill, and the blue squares were now my challenge. I’d already spent most of the day falling, and by about 2pm, we’d declared this last trip down Alpine to be our final run for the day before we even got on the lift one last time. Most of the route down was uneventful – some good turns at first when I was fresher, some good falls in the middle as my legs got tired, and as we got near the bottom, Nick sped off to the lodge, leaving Amanda and me to fend for ourselves.

I wish I could say I got hurt landing some massing jump, or going down a double-black-diamond run, or even just skiing into some trees. But in the end, just as the slope started leveling off, what did me in was a little girl. I was skiing at an angle to the run and nearing the left tree line, and turned to go right. Amanda was fairly close on my right side, so I turned back to my left and there, a few feet in front of me on a collision path, was a little girl I hadn’t noticed before. I tried to stop the only way I knew for sure worked – falling. I didn’t make it all the way – in the end, my goggles made impact first, sending us both flying, and knocking her out of her skis.

Of course I felt like an idiot bowling over a little girl, the good news is we both skied away. My goggles pushed my glasses into my face, cutting my across the nose bridge more than once. The girl was unscathed, but my nose ended up looking like Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, covered in blood from the cuts my glasses gave me. I apologized as much as I could, but still ended up getting some glares from the girl’s dad. She stopped crying before I stopped bleeding, so I think she got the better end of the ordeal.

I made it down to the lodge, found the bathroom, and tried to clean my wounds. Finding the bathroom, I could tell everyone was staring at me, but it was even worse in the bathroom. Some little kid in there was fascinated with my nose – knowing no shame, he probably spent 3-4 minutes just intently staring at me, until his dad finally pulled him away. Now, one trip to the eyeglass store and a few days later, I’m mostly back to normal, excepting a nice set of scars on my nose that’ll probably take another month to go away.

Here’s hoping I don’t make injure it a third time.