My tobogganing days are over

Published 1:51 pm Saturday, November 8, 2008

As I‘m sitting down to write this column, the snow is steadily falling outside, reminding me of a story that happened my sophomore year in college at St. Mary’s in Winona.

It was January, and my friends and I had just returned from Christmas break. It was a Sunday afternoon I believe, and my roommate’s parents owned a farm in Wabasha. My roommate suggested we drive up there and spend the day sledding, as some of the back farm roads were hardly driven anymore and were known to provide the perfect sledding hills.

“I’m in,” I said. And so were four of our other friends.

The plan was to drive up and take turns on my roommate’s handful of runner sleds.

As we were almost out the door of our dorm room, my dad called, just to see how the plane ride back from break was.

I told him it was fine, and then he asked what I had planned for the day.

“Sledding,” I said.

“Have fun,” he replied, “but stay away from the toboggans; they’re no good, and you can easily break a bone.”

“No worries,” I said. “We’re sticking with the runner sleds.”

On one hand, I appreciated my dad’s advice. He obviously had a reason for giving it. On the other hand, I was in college. I had earned the right to ruin my dinner if I wanted to by eating too many sweets, and, if I felt the urge to, go on a toboggan.

So off we went to Wabasha.

The conditions were perfect and out came the runner sleds. One by one, we cruised down the farm roads. Time and time again, we raced each other down the hills.

But apparently that got boring because about an hour or so after that, my roommate announced, “let’s go on the toboggan!”

He pulled this huge toboggan out of his shed. It could fit all six of us with room to spare.

I hesitated, hearing my dad’s voice in one ear, “stay away from the toboggans,” and my roommate’s in the other, “C’mon Dave, hop in.”

On that day, I listened to my roommate.

Off we went. We cruised down, all of us leglocked one right after the other. We launched down this semi-steep road for what seemed to be at least a half mile or so and somehow even managed to turn right at the opened farm gate. As we approached a cliff, my roommate said, “bail out!”

Half of us went one way, and the other half went the other.

My right ankle went the other.

I immediately recognized a sharp pain. I tried to play the tough guy, but couldn’t hide the limp. “Wow, Dave really got hurt.”

I said I thought it was just a sprain, and we all decided to call it a day and head back to the dorm.

By evening, the pain was growing worse by the minute. I took my sock off, and my ankle had swollen to nearly softball size.

“Aww, It’s just sprained,” my friends said. Finally, one of my female friends said, “get out of the way. I am taking him into the emergency room, and no one’s going to stop me.”

No one did.

As I went to get my coat, I was forced to make a phone call to get my insurance information. I had to call my dad.

“Why do you need that?” he asked, and then shortly figured it out. “You went on a toboggan didn’t you!”

The diagnosis wasn’t good.

Broken ankle, done for weeks. The cast wouldn’t come off until after spring break.

I learned a few lessons that day. Toboggans are probably not a good idea, and there are times when you should absolutely take the advice of your parents no matter how old you are.

This winter, I think I’ll stick to skiing.