The first time I was ever scared for my brother (aside from a few instances when our father had discovered some misbehavior) was when he decided to take up wrestling for the high school team.
Vision Quest was in the movies and, much like the Top Gun effect, so many young guys wanted to be Matthew Modine, replete with unhealthy weight management, boiler room sweats and cool hair.
My brother couldn't wait to try out and, fortunately, had my dad's own experience on the mat to instruct him in a few pointers.
Needless to say, my brother picked up on it quickly (both my brothers are absurdly athletic and seem to be good at everything) and he was wrestling varsity right away.
My mother was less than thrilled.
Anyway, as the season got underway, my mother and I headed to the high school for one of his first matches. I can still remember the rancid smell of the gym, the penetrating echo of the whistles, and the shocking images of men in tights.
I also remember feeling a little nervous for Paul as the match before his got underway. Knowing he would follow, I paid close attention to what was happening, wondering how it could potentially hurt and hoping with all hope that Paul's opponent would prove inferior.
It never got to that point.
As the match before Paul's neared its end, one of the wrestlers threw the other over his hip, causing him to fall flat on his extended arm. The crowd gasped, the wrestler's face blanched, and then we all felt sick as we watched the now crumpled arm unfold.
To get the most accurate idea of what happened: extend your arms so that they form a "T" with your body. Now, slowly try to move one arm against your back without bending.
You can't. And you shouldn't.
The young wrestler was rushed to the hospital with a severe dislocation, as well as a break.
And Paul was next to go.
I'll never forget how scared I was for him at that moment.
This is Day 75.
2 years ago