Monday, February 14, 2011

because the truth is, it's funny


(Happy Valentine's Day, my friends. In light of this holiday celebrating the grand fall into love, let's talk about another kind of falling, shall we?)

I have never liked The Three Stooges. They irritate me to no end and remind me of Sunday afternoons when I was a little girl. We'd come home after church and everyone in the family would take a nap except for me because I was afraid I'd miss something - which is very silly, considering the fact that EVERYONE WAS ASLEEP, but nevertheless, I wouldn't sleep and instead I'd watch television. Let me tell you something about antenna television programming for Sunday afternoons in early 1980's Southern California: sports, F-Troop, and The Three Stooges. Sometimes when I was really lucky I'd find a movie on, something from the 1960's with Doris Day. I was SUPER EXCITED when I found a movie. F-Troop and The Three Stooges made me want to die.

So anyway: I don't like The Three Stooges. But they do get something right: falling is funny.

Because what I do like, what I secretly love, is seeing someone take a nice juicy ass-over-tea kettle SPILL. Not necessarily The Three Stooges falling (or the violence, it just sets my teeth on edge), but a wonderful unplanned fall? Is priceless. It's probably why Chip and I spent more time than I ever care to document watching MXC when we were first married. And Wipeout? Very entertaining television. I especially love seeing a good fall during a sporting event, the kind when no one gets permanently damaged, of course, except maybe their dignity. I love a good dignity-bruising.

The public, live, in-person witnessed spill is better than all of the above, combined, times 20. Even though I can't rewind it repeatedly like I can on the DVR at home (what a shame). I love the pinwheeling arms, the total loss of control, and especially - oh most especially when the spill-er thinks they can salvage some sense of respect by pretending that it never happened. That there is the stuff of legend.

I am not a graceful person by any standard. I fall. I stumble. I trip. And I do it on a fairly regular basis. The best part about my frequent stumbles is the faulty wiring in my head, which somehow prevents me from taking the regular precautions that any other normal person would do. Case in point: when we first got married, we were living in a tiny three-story apartment, so small that it was one room per floor. We hung out on the stairs a lot. It made us feel like we had a spacious mountain range right inside our abode. One luxury we did have was a stacked washer/dryer, right there on the third floor landing (our bedroom, way up in the tree tops it was). Because space was at a premium, we got really squirrely with storage. In the case of the laundry area, we kept the detergent perched way up there on top of the (already tall) washer/dryer. One day I was taking a stack of dishes down from the bedroom to the kitchen/living room (2nd floor). I was, of course, walking by the washer/dryer. For some reason still unknown to me, I happened to... sort of look up? As I was walking by the washer? And somehow, also still unknown to me, this looking up and walking by the washer coincided with an actual dollop of Tide detergent falling directly into my EYE. The PAIN, OH THE PAIN THEREOF. For the pain was a great and terrible pain. A pain of stinging detergent awfulness. OUCH. But remember, I was also carrying a stack of dishes. Anyone else with a lick of sense would THROW THE DISHES DOWN, down down DOWN in order to wash their eyes out and prevent PERMANENT BLINDNESS. But me? Little Whimsy? You know what I do? I hold on to those dishes, I hold on to them for all I'm worth as I stand at the top of the stairs and try to bump my way, blindly (BECAUSE MY EYES ARE CLOSED, OF COURSE) to the bathroom.

This is when Chip came up the stairs, pulled the dishes from my deathgrip, and helped me regain my eyesight. Later he reminded me that any normal person would abandon whatever was in their hands to prevent blindness.

He has since reminded me of that same fact when I'm in the process of falling down. Because I've also been known to fall flat on my face (or hip or hands or bum) instead of dropping whatever is in my hands. True story.

But my absolute favorite falling down story is from my pre-married days. I was living in a tiny apartment and working downtown. I took a bus to and from work every day. A very packed bus. One night I was sitting toward the front of the bus and so happened to be one of the first ones off at my stop. As I was walking down the stairs of the bus, carrying my work bag, wearing a skirt and stockings and tall boots, my foot caught on the last stair and I went flying - literally flying forward to land bum-in-air, directly on my knees. Saying just that is still not clear, now I flew--- flew out the doors of the bus, catching a nice two feet of air to land on my knees. There was no skidding, no slow slide into pavement. Just me. A solid thud of knee bones on pavement. And this: about twenty other bus commuters still unloading themselves from the bus, stepping around me, walking home, and ignoring me altogether.

After 30 seconds of stunned immovability, I did my best to stand up and walk home (still carrying my bag, which hadn't even touched the ground).


When I got home, I assessed the damage. Stockings were shredded, my boots carried twin trails of blood down their fronts. I stood in the bathtub and washed blood and gravel down the drain. I still carry matching scars on both of my knees.

Now it's your turn. Tell me your favorite falling down experience, yours or one you witnessed.


Mrs. Irritation said...

I am a faller, too. Not only do I fall a lot, but I did not inherit the gene that alerts your brain to send your hands out to catch yourself when falling begins. As a kid I fell into a snowbank face first and ended up slicing just under my eye. I don't know if my mom was more incredulous that I didn't just put my arms out to brace myself or that I managed to cut myself on snow (the top layer was icy).

I have fallen down steps in the winter which perfect shoved snow right up both pant legs. I've fallen down a flight of steps on my knees (sort of like I was surfing) being completely careful not to spill the box I was carrying. I could go on and on.

And like you, I enjoy watching someone take a good fall. One of my best memories is freshman year of college we got a huge ice storm. I'd had class really early before it hit, went back to my room and gone back to sleep. When I woke up again at lunch time I looked out my 4th floor window to see everyone slipping and falling on their bums. It was awesome entertainment!

When you fall is the first thing you do to look around and see who has witnessed it, no matter how badly it hurts?

Chelle said...

The minute I read your post, I knew I needed to share this past blog post - not because I enjoy it, but because it reminded me of your incident; it was all about falling, torn tights and it was sort of bus-related too. It wasn't funny at the time because I was headed into work, rather than home. But now? I get a good, hearty laugh out of it. :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Pretty please...
Dear Monday,

Things did not go well yesterday and I'm requesting a do-over. Here's the justification for said request:

* Got up late
* Couldn't find any pants for work, so went with dress and heels
* Caught a later bus
* Later bus got stuck in super awful traffic jam from multiple-vehicle accident carnage
* Got off bus and hurried to the hospital
* After crossing road and slipping on gloves, found myself slipping on ice (heels + ice = nothing good)
* Continued slipping on ice, on bum, along sidewalk, in front of traffic
* Forgot to mention important tidbit: heeled-feet in the air & dress flying up in my face
* Bruised, scraped and more than a bit humiliated, baby-stepped it the rest of the way to work
* Casualties: one hole in ankle of favorite tights, one sore ankle, one run in knee of tights, one bloody knee, frizzy hair, and one sad girl

And this was all before 7am. So, please, Monday, can I have a do-over?

ixBeths said...

I work on a university campus, and I've fallen down four times in the almost three years I've worked here (next Friday).

The first time was shortly after I started working here. I was crossing a major thoroughfare on my way in and just ate the pavement. I think I was wearing a dress (that is how early it was in the time I worked here... I was still wearing dresses... I do not wear dresses). I skidded on my knees and came into work with blood running down both legs. Of course, no one tends to keep band-aids at work, so that was fun.

The second time was probably the most traumatic. I was about 8 months pregnant, wearing pants, and again crossing a major thoroughfare. Only this one was major for all the FOOT, rather than car, traffic. It was during a class change, so there were literally probably 100 people in the intersection (not an exaggeration). I somehow tripped and went FLAT down on my knees. I ripped the knees of my pants open, scraped both knees until bleeding, and had an EXTREMELY difficult time getting back up (8 months pregnant with my 4th child). The REALLY traumatic part, though, was the look on all the (18- to 22-year-old) people's faces. I mean, they were HORRIFIED. They didn't know whether to help me or pretend they didn't see it, but I got at least three, "OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD THAT HUGE PREGNANT WOMAN JUST FELL DOWN" looks.

The third time, I was texting. YES. Because I am awesome and like to look super important. I was texting while in a crosswalk - a crosswalk I walk across every day on the way from/to my parking garage - and I tripped in a giant pothole. The pothole had always been there, and I'd always avoided it, but with the important texting, I forgot. I tripped, flew in the air, my phone flying out of my hands, and landed on my knees (again). There was one big truck waiting on me to cross the street. I'm sure I looked awesome. I don't think I was injured in that one, but MAN I felt stupid. SO STUPID. Also, the pothole - the one that had been there the entire time I've been here - was filled in the next week. No lie.

The last one was less a FALLING story, but still, similar. I was in the same crosswalk as in #3, walking back to work from lunch. I had left campus to go to therapy, and I'd gotten lunch on the way back. I was carrying a paper bag full of tacos (well, not "full"... I'm not a pig... maybe 2 to 3 tacos... a normal amount of tacos for a single individual's lunch...). I was about a quarter of the way across the crosswalk when the bag ripped in half. I tried to catch it, which meant I did the juggling in the air thing for a few seconds, before everything flew out of my bag. Two (to three) tacos, several containers of hot sauce, napkins, and my wallet and keys (probably why the bag ripped). There was a car waiting for me to cross, and I literally had to get down on my hands and knees crawling around picking up all the pieces of my lunch, plus the torn bag I dropped. I waved at the car like, "Oh, sorry. Thanks for letting me crawl around in front of you. I hope you enjoyed the show." but they had started talking to each other, knowing it would be awhile for the woman to pick up her lunch in the crosswalk.

My friend at work tells a great story of tripping, trying to regain her balance, and RUNNING (because she was trying to regain her balance) headfirst into a wall here.

I don't know what it is about this place.

Tamara said...

I've been able to keep my balance for awhile, but during college and a few post-college years gravity and I were at odds.
One special falling occasion happened right before my date for the evening. I was coming downstairs to the front room and I must have missed a step or something because next thing I know I'm sliding down on my side landing in a heap at the bottom of the stairs. I must have been wearing some slick pants because I had quite the momentum going. The bruise on the side of my thigh that appeared two days later lasted for two months. My date, now my husband, still laughs at me about it.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

As a former dancer, I'm supposed to have great balance. I mean, this should obviously be true. AND YET.

My favorite: I ran into someone on the stairs once. I was going up, he was going down. We were both on the same side and did that little side-to-side stuttery dance you do -"Are you going that way? Oh THAT way?"- and then I guessed wrong and felt silent pressure to move from the folks coming up behind me SLAMMED into him and took us both, plus one more behind me, tumbling down the stairs. Brilliant move by me. No broken bones, though.

tearese said...

near our first apt in Seattle, near Lake City Way. I was walking home carrying tons of groceries..I always bought too much at a time, considering we didn't have a car, and I'd be walking several blocks carrying the heavy bags.
There was a section of sidewalk sticking up a full three or four inches higher than the rest of the sidewalk. I tripped and skidded ON MY Knees, several feet. Still had all the groceries.
Joseph bought some special bandaids that were supposed to insulate and heal your wound; they were really weird and filled with liquid. I think we hadn't cleaned it good enough beforehand, because that scab was there FOREVER. I still have the scar.