There were the four of us: two boys, two girls. It was actually hilariously ironic, and very movie-like for all of us to hang out with each other so frequently due to the fact that there was some complicated love mixed within the group. Kathryn, my best friend at the time, liked John. John liked me, and Brian liked both Kathryn and me. I didn’t like anyone like that so I could’ve honestly cared less about the buzzing flirtatious dynamics. I was, however, very much aware of how much Kathryn liked John, and like any best friend would do, I wanted to help bring them together. Neither Kathryn or I were aware of John’s feelings towards me, at least I don’t think we were, but if we had been aware of it we both totally ignored it and focused on getting the two of them instead.
One Friday night, the four of us were hanging out at Brian’s super large house. Brian lived in a fancy gated community, which meant his place was always the place of choice. We for some reason decided it would be a good idea to work out. I mean, why not? The neighborhood clubhouse had a fully equipped gym – that’s how every High School junior would want to spend their Friday night, right? We figured this to be true and headed over to the gym.
Brian went straight to the weights. He had been working on his bod lately and was eager to show us girls how much he was able to lift. Kathryn jumped on the hamstring machine. This was no surprise to me because the girl. could. hamstring. It was incredible, actually, how much she could lift. John headed for the stretch machine so he could show off how serious he was about getting in shape for soccer practice on Monday. I decided to be supremely boring and hopped on the treadmill since I didn’t have anyone to impress, and running was easy. I turned the treadmill on and had the speed at 4.0 – a speed that was a little work, but not enough to really sweat over. It was during this time that I decided to study the layout of what I called “the love”. John was directly in front me on his stretch machine – his back to Kathryn (which he couldn’t necessarily help due to the positioning of the machine, so I forgave him). Kathryn and Brian were both in a small but open room directly behind John. I felt my conscience give a nod of approval to the whereabouts of “the love”, and began to conjure up a simple plan. As I was pondering on how to transfer John’s attention from his burning calf muscles and onto Kathryn existence, I turned up my running speed to 6.5. The speed made me work much harder, but it also helped me think harder so I left it alone. Then I thought a thought of pure brilliance! I would take notice to Kathryn and her intense hamstring lifting by saying something like, “Man! Look at Kathryn’s hamstrings go! It’s amazing how much she can lift!” Then John would have to look back at her, thus noticing her and her hamstrings of steel, and in that instance he would fall in love with her and ask her to prom. It couldn’t fail!
It totally failed.
The whole time I had been thinking, I had been looking down at my shoes. I always, always look at my shoes while I run on treadmills because A) It helps me forget how tired I am, and B) I’m extremely pigeon-toed and have to make sure my feet don’t run into each other. While I had looked up earlier to study the whereabouts of my friends, it had only been for a couple of seconds until I looked down at my feet again. But for my special plan to work out, I needed more than seconds – I needed John’s attention. So I looked up and over at Kathryn, and spoke my beginning line:
“MAN. Look at Kathryn’s hamstrings go!”
*He’s turning…he’s turning…*
“It’s amazing how much she can li-“
BAM. Holly down.
My toe-pigeoned feet were in no way considerate of what I was trying to do and stepped over each other, right in the middle of my last word! The BAM everyone heard was my knees slamming onto the belt of the speeding treadmill, the curse word everyone heard came from John, and the zzzzzz-ing everyone heard was the treadmill belt speedily peeling the skin off my shins. Luckily I had thrown my arms around the handlebars of the treadmill to at least keep me from falling on my face, and the way I saw it, I had two choices:
1) I could let go of the handles and be thrown into the wall mirror exactly 1 foot behind me which I probably would shatter and would then be caught in between the shattered mirror and still running treadmill.
2) I could continue to hang on, resulting in skinless legs.
I opted for Option 2.
I hung on and tried not to faint from thinking about how much skin I was losing while my friends scrambled to rescue me. My wide and horrified eyes watched the racing belt the same way Hollywood actors watch the rapidly moving hot lava that’s only a few feet underneath them. John made it to me first and Mortal Combat-punched the big red STOP button on the machine. My arms were incredibly weak from holding myself up so naturally I crumpled onto the belt. John kept blurting out curse words every time he and Brian tried to move me – obviously afraid my legs would literally fall off right there on the floor, and then the words really started flying when they viewed the actual damage done to my legs. Kathryn was in a fit giggles – the kind where you keep picturing your friend take a hilarious fall but you of course feel terrible about what’s happened, but can’t stop laughing for reasons you don’t understand. I felt like that was fair since I had accidentally yet very successfully turned ALL of the attention on me instead of her. Touche, Kathryn.
I laid flat on my back and stared at the security camera for at least ten minutes while all 3 of my friends ran back and forth to bathroom for more wet paper towels to dab my legs with. The damage wasn’t as bad as I thought – there was definitely missing skin, but my legs weren’t raw and super gross like I’d imagined. Bandages were a must, though. I tried to get up myself but John insisted I lie there until someone pulled the car around, which meant Brian had to leave the scene to get it. John and Kathryn waited with me on the floor until it was time to go, and John began to pick me up. I shot Kathryn a look of utter panic, as this was not what I wanted at all. He was supposed to be picking her up (you know, for romance sake), not me! I suggested to John that maybe he didn’t have to carry me, but he shut me up with, “I GOT YOU.” (He kind of had a temper). I said ok.
Brian’s parents were a watching a movie when the four of us emerged from the garage. They freaked out at the sight of legs, assuming I had been attacked by an angry raccoon or dragged around by a speeding car full of wild teenagers. But all panic died down as I explained what really happened:
“No I um, I fell off a treadmill.”
“I fell off a treadmill.”
“So y’all were working out, and you were running, and then you fell off?”
“Well no not exactly. I mean I fell down onto the treadmill but I hung onto the handles so that I wouldn’t fall off.”
“You hung on?”
“Well because if I let go then I would have fallen on my face and shattered the mirror behind me so I figured I’d just stay on.”
“And you weren’t wearing the safety key?”
“I didn’t think about it.”
“Uh huh… Well you need like, 11 bandages, so A+ achievement there.”
“I do what I can.”
“I can’t believe you fell off a treadmill.”
Brian’s parents absolutely lost it which made for a much longer bandaging process. John, Brian, and Kathryn chimed in too, and everyone had a big laughing party while I counted all of my Band-Aids.
I drove my way towards the exit gate of the neighborhood. I was very upset with myself, not only because I failed in helping Kathryn’s prom chances, but also for getting wicked injuries in the most uncool way possible. I stopped my car and nodded to the security officers to open the exit gates. There were two of them, and they both leaned out of the office window as if they needed to see who I was before they let me out. I was very confused and moderately weirded out, so I just kind of smiled awkwardly and waved, hoping I wasn’t being mistaken for one of the neighborhood robbers or something. I figured the officers got their close look when the both of them burst out laughing, each of them holding their stomachs as if their appendix would explode if they laughed any harder. The gates opened, and I unhappily drove through, catching a glimpse of the officers in my rearview mirror, giving me a thumbs-up.
Darn you security camera…
The moral of my story is: Always wear your safety key, and don’t try to hook your friends up while operating machinery.