On a daily basis, I am asked why I am in a wheelchair. The boredom of rehashing the truth day in and day out led to me dipping into the fictional side of my brain and, needless to say, I got creative – too creative – with my answers. I use these answers solely for the randomer on the street who asks and not the people who are regular guest stars in my life. The strangers don’t need the background so if ever you find yourself in a tricky situation, these alternative answers are for you.
1) I was crushed by a stampede of donkeys.
Apparently, you are more likely to be crushed by a herd of stampedes than hit by lightning so, statistically, I felt that this answer carried some weight. People will be skeptical, especially if you live in a city where donkeys are a rare sight. But, hey! A stampede is a stampede. Cast any doubt aside with the theatrics and sound effects of the hoofed beasts frantically heehawing.
2) I thought I was the Golden God.
Inspired by a drug-riddled, rock n’roll scene from Almost Famous, I decided to steal the storyline of getting loaded, jumping off the roof of a building, only to miss the swimming pool by a few inches and crushing every bone in my lower half. When I used this story, I hoped that it would make me seem edgy, reckless and, in the height of my rocker days, the coolest kid in town.
3) A very serious dancing injury.
Depending on who you are talking to, you can get really inventive with this one from foxtrot to samba. It is important to note that many people have sustained serious leg and back injuries from mimicking Patrick Swayze’s infamous jump from Dirty Dancing, usually practiced at weddings. As you regale folks with this tale of rhythm and romance, they will be silently realizing that this injury could bestow them at any given wedding.
4) A rugby accident.
Being a girl, playing rugby would of course raise a few eyebrows. Whenever I used this answer to explain the presence of the wheelchair, the conversation would move swiftly onto the world of rugby and, more specifically, women’s rugby. Of course, you can toy around with this and use lacrosse, badminton, golf, bowls or football. Get crafty with your sports. The more unusual, the better. Chess boxing anybody?
5) Spring break shark attack.
This is the holy grail of replies and, believe me, it works the best. Place yourself in Sydney out on a speedboat near Bondi Beach. You and your friends decide to take a dip in the calm Tasman Sea. Suddenly, everything goes black and you wake up to discover that you – in a fit of fight or flight – bravely fought a tiger shark. The shark may have taken a chunk out of your leg, but you emerged the champion.
However, I urge that you use this story with caution. I once told this story to someone, thinking that I would never see them again. Two years down the line, this now friend still believed the truth, thinking that I was some sort of hero. Alas, the truth came crumbling around him one day and he has never forgiven me – five years later. Scott, if you are reading this, I am so sorry that you…fell for my amazing story.