RECORD STORE TALES Part 217: My Fuckin’ Neck!
Kids – do not crack your neck. Don’t do it. I know it feels good. Just don’t. I know the feeling, the release of pressure. The sudden relaxation of the nearby muscles. The temporary but instant relief from pain.
I used to crack my neck, apparently a bit too much, and by early 1996 it had caught up with me. I was about to go out for lunch at Casey’s with an ex-girlfriend of mine. We’d started to hang out again. I thought there might be a chance of getting back together, so I was looking forward to it.
I was toweling dry my hair, perhaps applying a bit too much force on one side, when suddenly: snap. Something hurt. Something hurt a lot. I collapsed to the ground, cradling my suddenly-too-heavy head in my hands. I’d experienced neck pain before (which started me on cracking it in the first place), but nothing like this! I was completely immobile. I sat like that, in pain holding my head in my hands, for 15 minutes. Finally I was able to find a comfortable way to stand up.
I took some Aspirin, and collapsed again in the stairway. I literally could not take both hands off my head without being in extreme pain. I had to be holding my head with at least one hand at all times. I considered cancelling the date with the ex, but quickly dismissed that option. The perceived opportunity for pity outweighed the physical pain. Now all I had to do was figure out how to put on my boots.
The ex arrived to pick me up, and she advised me to see a doctor. Nahh! I said. I took an Aspirin. Doctor Schmockter. I did know that, feeling the way I did, there was no way I was going to put able to pull a 4 hour shift at the record store that night. All that bending over and filing…one handed? No. Even though I was very proud of my perfect attendance record (no sick days in almost 2 years, a milestone I wanted to reach), I had to call in sick. I felt the pain of my now tarnished sick record.
We sat down at Casey’s, and I stupidly ordered French onion soup. Only when the dish arrived did I realize how hard it was to get the spoon all the way to my mouth without leaning. Leaning equaled pain, but by moving slowly and steadily, I gradually ate the soup.
I had a heavy scarf around my neck, and the warm soup going down my throat felt great too. Plus, the painkillers were kicking in. My mood brightened by the time my chicken arrived. When I had finished that, my sore neck muscles began to loosen up. I was regaining some mobility. Plus, the lunch was going splendidly! Conversation was brisk and good humoured.
“You know what,” I said to the ex, “I think I’m going to work after all.”
“Are you sure?” she queried. “Your neck looks really stiff.”
“It is,” I replied. “But it’s Wednesday. It’s a slow night. New stock arrived yesterday, Trevor would have finished stocking everything. I’ll be OK.” Plus, I was digging the new Extreme and wanted to hear it again.
Mike Mangini on drums
I excused myself to go to a pay phone and call the store.
“Hey man, it’s Mike,” I said when my boss answered. “Have you got anybody to fill my shift yet? Because I can do it. I feel alot better.” He told me that he was just going to work straight through. I assured him I was OK, and I got the ex to drop me off at the store.
I walked in, head cocked at an awkward angle, wearing a silly scarf. My boss was with a customer but he glanced at me, noting my odd posture. As soon as he was done with the customer, he turned to me.
“Oh, Mike…how in the heck did you do that again?”
Slightly embarrassed I answered, “Drying my hair.”
“You did THAT drying your hair?” he cried.
“Yeah,” I said sheepishly. “Does it look bad? Can you tell?”
“Can you tell?” he replied. “It’s as obvious as the nose on your face!”
Oh man. Oh man. I didn’t realize how comical I looked. Sure enough, several customers asked about my strange posture. And all of them had the same question:
“How in the heck did you do that?”
Drying my hair! Now leave me alone about it!!
Unfortunately this was merely the first of many such episodes. A high price to pay, for the temporary relief of cracking your neck. I should have just said it was whiplash from banging my head too much.