If you’ve ever had walking issues due to multiple sclerosis, you are bound to have experience in the sport of surfing, specifically furniture/wall/appliance surfing. One engages in said sport by eschewing practical walking aids—a cane, a walker, forearm crutches, etc.—in favor ricocheting off of solid objects in one’s home.
Here’s how it works. Say you decide you want another beer … yet you find yourself sitting on the couch eating Cheetos while cursing your wonky legs. “I hate you, wonky legs,” you mutter (with or without expletives). Then for reasons unknown, you opt to step over your cane—conveniently resting aside the couch—to channel legendary surfer Kelly Slater. Off to the kitchen you go! Couch armrest to end table to wingback chair to family room wall to fireplace mantle to dining room wall to dining room chair to dining room table to kitchen wall to pantry doorknob to countertop to sink (nice hand holds!) back to countertop, and then finally to refrigerator handles. Cowabunga! You just rode that barrel and exited the green room unscathed! Now simply open the fridge, get your beer, and resurf your steps, which is cake since there is now a fresh smear of Cheeto orange all over your house.
But, as veterans know, shooting the tube can be gnarly if surfing is not done smartly and safely. To avoid being a Barney, aka a lame surfer, you have to keep your eyes peeled for potential perils, like men in gray suits—in other words: sharks. House sharks are things you should not grab for support. Floor lamps. Recliners that rock. Christmas trees. Lightweight tri-fold Shoji screen room dividers made primarily of paper. The horns of poorly mounted faux animal heads. Yes, the list of “sharks” is practically endless.
Alas I discovered after a recent mishap, there also are degrees of Barneyism, from mildly dorky to full-on moron. For example, after you cook a slab of bacon and move the hot pan off the even hotter stove, DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES then use the convenient cast iron grate of said hot stove for support. This dawned on me as rather obvious while I was running my left hand under cold water for 15 minutes as Laura fetched my cane while trying not to injure her neck due to repeatedly shaking her head in exasperation.
Yes, even though I typically avoid furniture surfing (and even warn against it due to potential mishaps), I went full Barney. No, I’m not proud of singeing my palm or freaking out my wife. But it could have been worse. I could have pulled a Barney while hanging eleven (uh, Google at your own risk). The lesson here: wade carefully into such waters and always use your walking aids. Or just blindly ignore my advice. Surf’s up!