MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT 2/21/97

by Sam Longoria



Last Friday night, I was in a wreck on Cahuenga Boulevard in North Hollywood.

An oncoming car crossed the center line in front of me, crossing my lane,
trying to turn into a driveway on his left, my right.  No warning, no signal, nothing.

I was doing 45mph, the posted limit, on my motorcycle.  The oncoming car was
moving pretty fast, turning at the last instant.  There was nowhere to go,
no time to do anything but go completely limp.

The bike smashed the door.  I went over the handlebars, and hit the window
and frame, HARD, like a batch of wet laundry, caving in the side of the car.

I had a genuine out-of-body experience, floating up above the car, seeing
myself, the bike, all the broken glass and plastic down below.

Something stopped me from floating upward.  I asked if I was going to die,
was told "Not now."  I asked if it was going to be painful, was told "Yes,
I'm sorry.  You have a lot to do.  Go do it."

Then I swooshed back down into my body.  And it HURT.

I got up, broken glass and plastic falling to the street.  I was sure the
driver was going to drive away.  I staggered around back of the car,
pulling my notebook and pen out, wrote down the number from the car's
California plate.

About this time, my hearing came back.  Out of the silence came the traffic
noise, the voice of the car's driver, wailing "Mister, I'm so sorry.  I
didn't see you."

I picked up the bike and walked it to lean against a telephone pole.  Only
later would I remember that the bike weighs four hundred pounds, and when
it had tipped over before, I was never able to move it without help.

Time got extremely weird there, the ambulance arrived almost instantly,
they asked me a bunch of questions, said there were no broken bones,
my blood pressure was normal, heart palpitating.

They laughed when I told them they could go, that I wasn't going to die.
They said the police would be coming soon, and left.

I leaned against the telephone pole, in extreme pain, from my legs and neck
and back and head, and well, everywhere.  I was incredibly confused and
disoriented.  Time kept speeding up and slowing down.

The kid who was driving the car came up to talk to me.  He opened his mouth,
and froze, as did all the sound and other activity.

There was an incredibly long wait.  I could have written a novel during that
time, but it would have been a novel about pain, because that's all I was
feeling.  The pain was overwhelming.

Then time got back to normal, and the kid started moving again, and talking.
He told me his name and information.

His name is Sergio, he's a legal-immigrant Mexican national, with cards and
ID.  But no driver's license or insurance.

He was coming to visit his girlfriend.  He wanted to offer to pay for
everything, to fix my bike and for me to see a doctor.  He said he couldn't
talk to the police, or he would be arrested and deported.

I told him to write everything down on paper, and asked if I could use the
telephone.

Sergio's girfriend, Carla, was very nice, and so were her family.
They gave me a glass of water, and a cordless phone.  I couldn't remember
any phone numbers, and couldn't read those in my notebook.

I looked around, and cried because I was losing my mind, and remembered to
take my  helmet off.  There were big chunks of plastic and glass embedded
in it.  I am so glad I was wearing it.

I picked up the phone again, and my fingers remembered a number to dial.
A voice answered, it was my friend and business ex-partner Tom.  Tom has a
Doctorate in law, so I asked what I should do.

Tom gave me a list of questions to ask, addresses and stuff, and said he'd
come pick me up.  I went down to the bike, and couldn't budge it.

Sergio and his friends helped me move the bike into their back yard, and I
chained it to a post, bagging my tools and stuff to take with me.

I asked Sergio the questions Tom had given me.  I wrote down Sergio's
answers, and Tom arrived.  All my bleeding had stopped, but I still needed
help to get into the car.

Before the crash, I had been en route to a restaurant in Toluca Lake.
As it was on the way to the emergency room, I asked to go there.
(To let my waiting friends, in from Seattle, know what had happened.)

We got there, and waited for them to arrive.  I wrote a note, to leave for
them.

Those of you who know me well, know that when I am hungry or tired, I lose
my ability to do simple math.  Numbers go completely out of my head.  This
was just such a time.

I couldn't tell the waiters how many persons I was seeking, nor what time I
was to meet them.  I was barely able to remember words or letters to write
the note.  My friends arrived, as I was signing my name.

We all got to talking, and ate Thai food, and my pain settled in to many dull
aches.  Mike said I could stay at his place in nearby Burbank.
And Ko and John and Mike and Tom and Sam all had quite a nice time, eating
and joking, and asking and answering movie trivia questions.

I know it seems strange to go from a traffic accident to a jolly restaurant
dinner.  It seemed a little odd at the time.  But I chose to be there, with
some of my best friends, rather than going to some hospital emergency room.
Wouldn't you?

Even if I were damaged internally, and I were to die, I'd rather be there,
with them.  (Although it might ruin the dinner somewhat.)  That's how I see
it.  But I knew I wasn't going to.  "Not yet."

Tom and Ko went home, and Mike and John took me to Mike's house.  I slept
all night, and all day the next day, Saturday, yesterday.  When I awoke,
I was so stiff and sore that I couldn't move without extreme effort,
extreme pain.

I didn't want to eat, and only woke up and moved when it became extremely
necessary.  I am one big bruise, with many gashes, and my teeth are all
loose.

There's something I've never felt before.  When I try to stir, my body
GRABS me, and won't let me move.  Even a slight movement is enough to make
all my muscles CLENCH.

It's as clear a message as you could ask from all my little cells,
"No, you don't!  You're not going anywhere!  You caused all this damage,
and we are busy repairing it.  So DON'T MOVE."

Saturday night, last night, our friend Betsy came over to Mike's house,
from her horse show at the nearby Burbank Equestrian Center.  I soaked in
Mike's hot tub, in the back yard.  I relaxed in the hot water, and
Betsy kept me from drowning.

Then I got out of the tub, and went back to an incredibly sound sleep.

Now it's Sunday morning.  I hurt, but I know that'll pass.  I'm extremely
glad to be alive, and anxious to get on with my work.  I have a lot to do,
and I'm doing it.

I think I'll be lying down for a while, and healing, and not around my
office or the computer much.

I wanted you to know what's going on.  I don't want anyone to think
I'm ignoring them.

I won't be able to answer right away, but I'd love to hear from you.

Sam Longoria