I Fell to My Death (But I’m Feeling Much Better Now)

My Real Memoir

Getting a 10-speed bike for Christmas and being twelve years old meant (in my mind) that there were no longer any limits to how far I could go!

I’d made it to Coyote Creek before. But it was almost an hour on foot. Plus, a very venomous viper (sidewinder, actually, but I like alliteration) had squiggled blithely across my path. So being on my slick Italian racing bike seemed quicker and safer.

I got far as the Coyote Hills in nearby Buena Park and Fullerton, home of the five-year-old girl I would meet and marry (when she was twenty-seven). There, I explored an abandoned oil refinery, bringing home oxidized bolts and faucets. Unfortunately, the coolest rusted-out-old-truck-ever was a smidge too big to fit on my handle bars.

One Saturday, Rory and I decided to explore Coyote Creek (sadly, our co-BFF Jeff had a hip issue that resulted in major surgery later that year). Coyote Creek was a dry rock collection most of the time, and it was surrounded by nearly thirty-foot-high cliffs. But that was why we were there: it practically screamed, “Climb me!”

I may have been a pre-teen, but I had a lot of kid left in me (still do), so I decided to climb down to the creek bottom. How hard could it be? Rory took one look and prophesied, “You’re not gonna make it.”

So naturally I had to prove him wrong.

I’d barely gotten over the edge when I realized I was not gonna make it (where had I heard that before?). So I grabbed a really big weed to hoist myself back up. Who knew really big weeds had really small roots? The weed (genus “weenius rootus”) pulled away instantly, as if to say, “He told you so.”

The last thing I saw was Rory’s terrified face and his hand starting to reach for me. The weed and I tumbled backward, head-over-heels, not in the “falling in love” sense, but in the “falling-to-your-death” sense. Half way down I did an unplanned handstand on an outcropping.  Which probably saved my brain (what little there was of it) from being splattered all over the creek bottom.

I hit the ground with my heels and butt, rolled backward several times, involuntarily assumed a spread-eagled position, and began laughing hysterically. I couldn’t believe I was still alive! All the way down, I’d been certain I would die, which had caused me to review my entire life several times over and realize with profound regret that I would never have sex.  But here I was—still alive! I might yet write the great American novel. Find the cure for cancer. Take long walks on beautiful beaches. Have sex.

I walked my bike home, leaning on it for support, while Rory rode circles around me saying I told you so with his face. My sacroiliac still remembers the incident, and says, “He told you so” in back language. Several years later, I recounted the incident to my drama teacher. He laughed till he cried, and said, “Well, I’m sorry you almost died, but listen, if you can’t do anything else, you can always…

Tell stories for a living.”

My Real Memoir is a series. To read the next one, click here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Humor, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to I Fell to My Death (But I’m Feeling Much Better Now)

  1. Todd R says:

    At least you didn’t turn into a newt. That would have been really tragical.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. What a story! I guess God wasn’t finished with you yet – you still had a lot of stories in you.
    (I wish I had more “weenius rootus” in my garden. Instead, I have the kind of weeds you should have grabbed.)

    Liked by 4 people

  3. mic says:


    Liked by 2 people

  4. Glad you made it Mitch. Those angels held you up well. Sure makes a good story, In RETROSPECT…

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Chris Ciccarelli says:

    We’ve all been there did that.. What makes your wonderful story special is that you’ve recorded it for history and shared it for us to appreciate and included pics to go along with it. Mitch, as I read your posts I so wish I’d not been so shy and gotten to know you in Hi School. Time is short and I’m so grateful the Lord has given us this modem to become acquainted with. Many Blessings always! Our beautiful hill is covered with houses now and Cyotes are a real problem. They’ve been driven into the housing areas in LaMirada, Buena Park, Whittier and LaHabra and attack dogs, cats & small children. It’s become a real problem for the area..


    Liked by 3 people

    • mitchteemley says:

      Great to hear from you, Chris! I know what you mean about the coyotes. My parents moved to Bellehurst, near Los Coyotes Country Club, in the late 60s and saw them all the time. Later, when my family lived in Burbank, my wife jogged in the mornings, and often met a coyote trotting in the opposite direction. And, yes, we frequently heard stories about their attacks on pets.


  6. Huh. I only fell to the floor. I like your story better!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Pretty sure this made my week!

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Ana Daksina says:

    HATE back language! 😱

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Nancy Richy says:

    For a 12-year-old, life doesn’t get much better than this!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Pingback: Welcome to Teenage Boot Camp | Mitch Teemley

  11. beth says:

    Glad you lived to tell!

    Liked by 3 people

  12. My memory involving a ten speed bike ride turned mishap when I was fourteen years old, is nowhere near the heart stopping adventure of yours at Coyote Creek Mitch, but still stays with me. I was riding on the back of my friend’s canary yellow ten speed bike one summer afternoon. I still can feel the breeze on my face and that wonderful feeling of freedom only a bike ride can allow as we soared down the suburban street en route my house. Then just moments later, the sinking feeling that my friend was attempting to make the very sharp turn into my driveway without slowing down or braking. I remember thinking…she’s going to brake, she’s going to slow down or we are goners! My last minute shriek to do either fell on deaf ears. Moments later we lay on my driveway, bloodied and broken (nothing serious) and thankfully lived to tell.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I’m so thankful for this diversion while in the middle of Covid!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      You have Covid, Joy?


      • Yup, my favorite chauffeur brought it home, also to his mother (she just spent her 99th birthday in the hospital, but was to go home today), his father-in-law, and his brother got back to Indiana to learn that he caught it from him as well! I’m amazed that if it’s this contagious, how we’ve avoided it all this time! I was to be the guest of an out-of-town book club tomorrow evening (for “Leora’s Letters”, which was set up months ago. Still have it to look forward to!

        Liked by 1 person

      • mitchteemley says:

        Yes, it’s become quite a fad. The upside seems to be that most people are getting over this version pretty quickly. Be well, my friend!

        Liked by 1 person

  14. alsavignano says:

    I really appreciate the map. Somehow it made your adventure real to me.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. murisopsis says:

    Your Drama teacher was prophetic!! I did have to laugh a little but the mom in me was cringing all the same!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Damyanti Biswas says:

    Wow, that was quite the story! Reality is often crazier than fiction 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  17. OMG, Mitch! You can definitely tell stories! I’m sitting here laughing my head off with a room full of people wondering if I should be medicated! In fact, one of my new friends just told me she spoke to me and I didn’t answer and her feelings were hurt!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. oneta hayes says:

    You won’t even have to make your stories up. Just tell ’em.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Your drama teacher was a prophet. Great story, Mitch! God bless!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Rory Cooper says:

    Now that I’m back in the hood I see the coyote cliffs every day and think of the adventures we had in the forbidden zone.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Anonymous says:

    No. My mom lived in the house until she died.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. rwfrohlich says:

    Which was similar to the time, about sixth grade, when in the boys bathroom at school, I thought it would be cool to stand on the urinal and jump though space to grab the bar across the toilet stall and swing like Tarzan. My hands got wet from the sweaty pipes on the urinal so my hands could not grip the bar and I crashed to the ground, hit my head and lost consciousness. When the janitor found me there, lying on my back with my feet up on the toilet, I told him I’d slipped on the wet floor, and everyone bought it.


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