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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Back Care for Boneheads

I did a pretty dumb thing last night.

This should shock none of you who have been reading here regularly. Or ever. Or noticed the picture of myself that I chose to adorn this page. Dumb things and I go together like Howie Mandel and OCD. Thick as thieves, we are.

Anyway, I hurt my back yesterday at work. That’s not the dumb thing.

(Though I’m not really sure exactly when I hurt it, or how. So it could well be another dumb thing that I just wasn’t paying enough attention to catch.

“Dumb things and I go together like Howie Mandel and OCD. Thick as thieves, we are.”

That’d be just like me. Ganking my back moshing in the office or bench-pressing secretaries on a bet, then forgetting all about it. More likely, I picked up a stapler the wrong way and wrenched a disc. I’m a pretty delicate flower, when you get right down to it.)

All I know is, when I got up around three in the afternoon to make a caffeine run, I could barely stand up straight. Or walk. Or shuffle like Igor after a bad stroke down to the vending machine, which is what I ended up doing. Searing spinal pain is one thing, but going a full afternoon in the office without caffeine? Not gonna happen, friend.

I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to baby my back, the way you’re supposed to. I took regular breaks to stand (mostly) up and (gingerly) stretch. I sat straight in my chair, more or less, and kept the shoulder slumping and fetal position curling to the bare minimum dictated by the job.

Which is rather a lot, really. But I cut out most of the heavy sobbing, and the rending of sackcloth. That business is tough on the old vertebrae. And I was taking care of myself, dammit.

Then I went to the gym and played two hours of volleyball.

(That’s the dumb thing, if you’re keeping track at home. Wouldn’t want one to slip past you there.)

In my dummy defense, we were playing in a league. And at the start of the night, we had the minimum number of people — so if I didn’t play, my whole team couldn’t play. By the middle of the night, a couple of stragglers showed up — but I was warmed up by then. I’d already broken a sweat. And so long as I didn’t run… or jump, or stretch, or fall, or move, or breathe, or any of the other things you have to do to play volleyball, my back didn’t hurt. Much. Sometimes. If I didn’t think too hard about it.

By the end of the night, I was pretty well crippled. I made it home, driving upright and proper like a charm school-trained debutante with a net pole up her keister. I struggled — barely — up the stairs, very carefully peeled off my clothes, and eased into the shower. The piping hot shower, and stayed there for a really long time.

So long, in fact, that my wife came to see if I’d fallen or something. Which is odd, because I hadn’t had a chance to tell her about my back yet. Evidently, she was working on her laptop a couple of rooms away and the shower steam was fogging up her screen. Either that, or the pitiful groans finally caught her attention. Probably thought we had a zombie infestation in the shower. Or bathroom banshees. Something perfectly reasonable like that.

At any rate, she poked her head in to check on me — and saw me, bent over away from the shower head with my palms on the wall, whimpering softly while screaming hot water poured onto my lower back. The heat and the bending and the steam were really helping; for the first time in hours, my back felt almost right.

But it looked oh so wrong.

At least, it must have. Because she stood there for a full thirty seconds, not quite knowing what to say. I managed to look up at her — but I wasn’t thinking what she might have been thinking at that point, so I didn’t explain myself. And I was in no condition to move. Finally, she cocked her head a bit and said:

So. You hurt your back again… right?


Oh, thank goodness. Take some aspirin when you’re done. I’m going to bed.

I didn’t tell her that I’d hurt it before the trip to the gym. Not yet. I figured she had enough unpleasant thoughts about me running through her head just then, so I put my head down and stayed under the water a while longer. When I felt I’d mustered the resolve to slog all the way to the bedroom, I got out, got dressed, and settled in beside her for a long night’s uncomfortable squirming.

If past injury is any indication, I’ll be paying for this gaffe for another three or four days — assuming the dog doesn’t trip me down the stairs or I don’t take a header on a pine cone on the front walk.

And I’m giving up bench-pressing office staff, until at least December. I may lose a few bets, sure. But it’s time I wised up and did something smart, for once.

(Aw, hell. Maybe just one admin assistant, for Thanksgiving, if the odds are good enough. They’re small, right? What’s the worst that could happen?)

Permalink  |  5 Comments

5 Responses to “Back Care for Boneheads”

  1. Andrew says:


    Might I suggest an appointment with your chiropractor?

    Bench pressing office assistants and secretaries – now there’s one form of bench pressing I could definitely take up!



  2. Andrew says:


    Might I suggest an appointment with your chiropractor?

    Bench pressing office assistants and secretaries – now there’s one form of bench pressing I could definitely take up!



  3. Andrew says:


    My sincere apologies.

    I did not mean to comment twice. It was a little slow to register first time so I clicked a second time.



  4. #Debi says:

    Happy Turkey Day, Charlie! Hope your back lets you get up to the table…


    Gobble gobble and all that. I wanted to wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving! And ditto on Debi’s comment. If one thing is true in life…today is a day a man has got to eat!

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