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September 23, 2008

Can I borrow your scooter and not crash, for a change?

September 23. Day 85.
My brush with death, Roman style: Once summer, in a lovely neighborhood called Monti (on the gently sloping hill between the Colosseum and Termini station), I rented a scooter.

Half an hour later, I was sitting on a chair in the shade, waiting for an ambulance.

I crashed. The scooter wasn't hard to maneuver. The problem was that I didn't know the symbol for yield, so I rushed up a small hill, only to plow head on into a taxi coming up the other side.

I remember seeing the taxi coming, only I didn't have time to be surprised or plan the next step. I woke up on the ground a few instants later, wondering what I was doing there. Then I saw the scooter a few feet away -- I must have flown, or maybe it slid out from under me. Around me, everything seemed still.

The taxi driver got out of his car and started yelling. Meanwhile, his customers slinked away. "What were you doing? Don't you know how to drive? You stupid girl!" And then he noticed I was dazed, and he got scared. He asked me how I was feeling, asked someone to bring me some water, told someone else to call an ambulance, as a crowd gathered. I was better, I was fine, I didn't want a doctor, so I stood up and walked out of the street, to a cafe. I was fine.

But another old man came up to me told me he couldn't believe I just stood up and walked away, "Not after seeing your head hit the pavement like that." and he slammed one hand into the other. That's when I agreed to see a doctor.

So, moral time: the helmet saved my life. Because I swear that my head didn't feel a thing. Sure, I was confused, but no pain. No damage. The helmet was a different story. So I will never, ever, ever, never ride anything beside a bike (in limited circumstances) without a helmet, and never again drive in a country whose laws I haven't thoroughly studied. Sounds elementary, but not to a 20-year-old. (As an added plus, besides living a full life in a non-vegetative state thanks to the helmet, now I can also blame at least some of my idiosyncrasies or forgetfulness on that mild concussion.)

Which brings me to the asking I featured earlier: My friend bought a scooter a month ago, and she offered me a ride. It was glorious. We couldn't stop laughing and squealing. It was getting indecently gleeful, by Boston standards.

With the wind in my face, I screamed at her, "Can I try it, later?" (We only had a few minutes for this ride, since we both had to head to different places soon.)

"Totally!" she replied. And yes, she knows about what happened on that Roman holiday.

Gained: Opportunity to conclude an interrupted scooter drive.
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