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No, I never did ask her on a date

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POSTED August 15, 2009 2:35 a.m.
I like bicycling, especially going downhill at 45 mph.

One of my more memorable downhill experiences involved a 15-pound purebred dog, a backboard, air bubbles, an unsuccessful Miss Placer County pageant contestant, and being exposed to half of my mother’s friends and then some.

I was 31 at the time. It was a period in my life where I did a lot of things people would describe as bizarre. I was racing with this 17-year-old downhill for a pizza. I knew I could take him once I got around a blind corner I’d taken perhaps 60 times.

Brian was ahead of me by about six bicycle lengths. No problem. But as I rounded the corner there was the stupid dog that’d come out and yap at your wheels. Every other time, I was by myself and left the dog in the dust. But this time was different. After Brian got away, he turned around and saw me coming.

He did what any stupid mutt would do. He started charging me.

What happened next was a matter of seconds but seemed like an eternity. The last thing I wanted to do was hit the dog head-on at 45 mph. I veered to the right. The dog shifted as well. I figured I’d clip him and hit a stone wall. Not good. I veered to the left. The dog shifted again. There was a barbed wire fence and a drop off of about 30 feet. Not a place I wanted to end up. So I made a split-second decision. Take the dog head-on.

To this day I can still see the dog’s eyes bug out and him trying to stop and turn around when he realized I was about to hit him.

I remember the first 180-degree flip and when my knee first slammed into the pavement. I do not remember the second flip or the 15 to 20 foot skid. I was out cold.

I came to about 40 minutes later as I was being lifted on a backboard into an ambulance.

I recognized the voice of the driver. I didn’t recognize the EMT. She, however, recognized me. As she started to put the IV into my arm all I could think of was a “60 Minutes” report I had seen on people being killed in hospitals by air bubbles from syringes.

Then she asked the questions: “Aren’t you Dennis Wyatt from the Press-Tribune?”

“Yes.”

“Did you judge the Miss Placer County contest this year?”

“Yes, did you win?”

“No.”

Charlie Brown would have been proud of the “arrrgh” sound I made above the laughing of the driver and just seconds before she put the needle in a vein.

They took me to the Roseville Community Hospital emergency room.

There was a silver dollar size wound on top of my knee cap down to the bone. I was lucky. The ligaments and everything were intact. It was just a bloody mess that was an extremely deep cut. It required extensive cleaning and stitches.

The ER doctor was juggling several patients. No problem. I was happy to be alive. Brian, meanwhile, had followed me to the hospital and had been allowed to sit in the room as the doctor worked on my knee.

I had a six-day a week column in The Press-Tribune. I also had done a number of stories on the hospital as well as sons and daughters of a number of the nurses who happened to be playing high school sports when I was the sports editor.

There was a steady parade of nurses who came in to say “hi” including four who knew my home well.

One of them, Dorothy Vasion, asked beforehand if it was OK if a particular nurse came in as she wanted me to “autograph” my column in that day’s paper.

I thought it was a little strange but no big deal. As she came in and started chatting I recognized her as a woman cyclist who would sometimes pass me while training in the foothills. We had chatted before but I never asked her name. I always thought it would be neat to date her but never got the courage to ask.

She chatted for a few minutes about bicycling then left. That’s when Brian let out a loud Cookie Monster laugh.

I asked what’s up and he kept laughing. I asked again and he pointed and laughed.

I had been on my back the whole time with my knee propped up. I slowly pushed up off my elbows and saw what he was laughing at. When I skidded, I did so on my front side and had literally ripped to shreds the cycling shorts that you wear without anything underneath. I had been exposed the entire time to about 15 nurses who were my mom’s friends or people I had done stories on. But worse yet, I was exposed to someone who I actually daydreamed about asking out.

And no, I never did ask her for a date.
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