The year was 2002.
Unbeknownst to me, this would be the year I’d expose a giant plot hole in Jean Claude Van Damme’s blockbuster film, Timecop.
Our story begins with a change of seasons.
After a long Winter was forced upon us by a tyrannical groundhog, Spring finally swooped in to save the day.
The warmer temperatures marked the start of the motorcycle riding season for the local adrenaline junkies.
Having endured months of withdrawal, I quickly pulled my Yamaha R6 from the garage and flicked the ignition.
What a sight to behold.
The engine on this beautiful blue sports bike was purring like a Siberian Tiger, and I was ready to pounce!
This would have been the fateful day I’d wreck my bike at triple-digit speeds, earning me a Medivac ride to the ER and an Amputee Coalition membership card.
This would have been the day, had a familiar face not intervened.
Moments after I saddled up and strapped on my helmet, someone began urgently tapping my shoulder.
Instinctively, I whipped around to shout WHAT THE FU—when my jaw dropped.
Standing before me was an absolute stud of a man, the likes of which this world has never seen.
Wearing an extra medium t-shirt to accentuate his physique, and a pair of army fatigue shorts that revealed a bionic leg, he was beYOUteeful.
The real-life handsome Squidward.
A single ray of sunshine cast a glow on his perfectly chiseled jawline and followed him around like a spotlight when he moved.
A family of doves cried tears of joy while circling over his head to form a feathered halo.
But something about his face…
Good golly miss molly! Either I was still hallucinating from the shrooms I took at Little Richard’s party last night, or I was staring at an actual clone of myself.
Not some highly resemblant doppelgänger.
Not an identical twin whom I was separated from at birth, only to be raised by a pack of wolves that would eventually turn on him and devour his leg for food during a winter famine.
Nope, it was me.
I’d recognize that smug look and those naturally arched eyebrows anywhere.
HOLY SHITBALLS IT WAS ME!
I hopped off the bike, searching for the words to start the most awkward conversation in the history of spoken language.
But before I could ask what in the Harry Potter was going on, the other me vanished into thin air, like he’d just slipped under an invisibility cloak.
More confused than a paraplegic at an ass-kicking contest, I sprinted back in the house and rushed to the kitchen, where a 1-900 number was taped to the refrigerator for just such an occasion.
Wasting no time, I frantically dialed the psychic friends’ network.
At a rate of $3.99 per minute, Dionne Warwick explained to me — very slowly — that I was visited by a time traveler. Apparently, my future self had come back to prevent a catastrophic accident.
And her story would have been perfectly believable, was it not for one tiny detail: The universal laws of Timecop.
Everyone knows that if two versions of the same person from different time periods come into contact, they’d merge into a blob of matter and melt into spacetime oblivion.
Yet, here I was. My “future self” tapped me on the shoulder just moments ago, and neither one of us turned into a swamp thing.
WHAT ABOUT THAT DIONNE?
She further explained that Jean Claude Van Damme was full of shit, and Timecop had more plot holes than a graveyard.
Just as I was about to hang up, a startling *BANG!* caused a glitch in the Matrix.
Within the blink of an eye, I went from pacing around the kitchen to laying on a reclining hospital bed in the unfinished basement.
A TV that was blaring in front of me, showing a rerun of Judge Judy.
She had just slammed down her gavel and declared the defendant guilty.
I snapped back to reality and, slowly, things started making sense.
The bike, handsome squidward, Dionne — it was all just a vivid daydream.
Back in real life, I was laid up in my parents’ basement, recovering from a motorcycle accident that happened in the Spring of 2002.
My bones were broken, a limb was missing, and I had enough Percocet to fuel a studio session with Future.
I’d soon develop a habit of popping pills and zoning out in front of the TV while I fantasized about building a time machine.
I was absolutely convinced that yours truly, a 19-year-old kid who barely graduated high school, would invent time travel within a year.
Then, I’d revisit the date of my accident, stop myself from riding and walk away on two legs, having learned a valuable lesson about motorcycle safety.
Denial is the first stage of grief.
Turns out, Chevy Chase never showed up to activate my hot tub time machine.
But as I continued moving through the various stages of grief, the anger and depression definitely made their cameos.
Eventually, three months after the accident, the day would arrive for me to try on my first prosthetic leg.
By that point, I had reached stage 5: Acceptance.
I remember telling a friend that the likelihood of me walking out of that appointment, after months of being wheelchair-bound and bedridden, was smaller than his paycheck.
He was unemployed at the time.
But odds be damned, I did exactly that — put on my leg, stood up, and walked out.
Obviously, I wasn’t strutting my shit like a runway model yet. Those first steps were about as graceful as a football player in a Tutu.
They weren’t pretty, but I’ll be Tom Brady if my walking didn’t inspire said friend to get a job, and me to get a new life.
Or at least a new lease on my old one.
Lao Tzu famously said, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
I took several.
They were wobbly, painful, assisted by crutches, and slower than yo mama’s mama shuffling from the cart return at Whole Foods back to her rusted ‘86 Oldsmobile that she can barely see over the steering wheel of.
And that’s if she could actually see in the first place.
Sorry grams, but based on that parking job, it’s time to cut up your license and learn how to use the internet to order food.
Point being, if legally blind geriatrics can somehow drive without plowing through pedestrians in a crowded parking lot, amputees can learn to walk again.
And run in marathons. And lift weights. And swim, row, hike, cycle, march in protests, and otherwise thrive.
But it doesn’t happen overnight.
It took me nearly 20 years to transition from almost dying in an accident to living on purpose.
Beginning with those first steps, I walked through the flames of tragedy and came out the other side as a man on FIRE — stronger, more resilient, deeply self-aware, with a bulletproof mindset.
The journey has been intense.
At times, it felt like I was getting jabbed in the eye with a syringe filled with personal growth on steroids, courtesy of Dr. Quit Cryin Nobody Cares About Your Sob Story, MD.
But despite the malpractice, I wouldn’t change a thing now. Even if I did have a time machine.