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Falling Slowly

and not in a sexy, romantic way.

The other night I walked into a cool, Seattle bar and immediately stood in front of a person trying to take a photo.

“Excuse me,” he said. “I am trying to take a photo.”

“Oh, sorry,” I replied.

A little flustered by my own obliviousness, I stepped out of his way.

I didn’t realize there was a ledge on the floor and the direction I stepped brought me in contact with that ledge.

When you first start to fall, there’s a moment where you think, “I can save this.”

Then time slows down. Your feet do not magically resume their place beneath your body. You begin to think, “Shit, I am in much trouble.”

Somehow, after tripping on the ledge, my body managed to propel itself across the room and, as if drawn by a magnetic force, directly toward a random table.

depiction of events described in article.

I smashed the side of my face/head on the edge of the table and crumpled to the ground like a discarded napkin.

Needless to say, I was very embarrassed. The random dude felt quite bad and it turned out he wasn’t entirely random, but instead the owner of the bar. Annoying, right? Now my only choices are to never go to that bar again, or to wear a fedora and Groucho Marx-style mustache as a disguise during any future visits.

Also now my face hurts and I cannot sleep on the left side of my body (my favorite side). I’ve been trying to make myself feel better by pretending I got in a bar fight, but myself isn’t buying it.

“Remember when you fell in Amsterdam?” my husband asked. “That was really scary.”

“Oh, right. I forgot about that.”

Last year we were in Amsterdam and somehow I tripped over nothing while crossing the street. I ended up sprawled face first across the bike lane, certain that a posse of bikers were about to slice me like a loaf of bread. (They didn’t. Thank you, polite Netherlands bike riders.)

It’s funny. I hadn’t really thought about it, but I seem to have, on average, one big spill a year.

In college:

  • I got a sprained ankle tripping over nothing in my own apartment.
  • Then there was the time I crashed my razor scooter at full speed in front of the entire theater department. I could barely walk for a week.
  • Freshman year I thought it would be quicker to exit the classroom by jumping over desks, instead of walking around them like a normal person. I ended up on the floor with a pile of desks on top of me.

Recently there have been a few big winners:

  • A few years ago I got up too fast in the middle of the night and fainted into the shower, herniating a disc in my neck.
  • I was hanging out with my in-laws and backed up into a bike rack, ending up entangled with the bikes, my feet far above my head. WHILE WEARING A SKIRT. So now my in-laws will always have that image of me in their heads. Awesome.
  • I slipped on some grease outside a restaurant and ended up flat on my back, struggling to stand while the people who worked at the restaurant yelled at me that they should be able to leave their big box of grease wherever they wanted and it was definitely NOT THEIR FAULT.

If possible, things were even worse when I was a kid. Some of my all time classic falls are from childhood. It’s surprising my parents allowed me to leave the house without bubble wrap tied to every body part.

  • I broke my ankle doing whatever weird shit kids do when they’re running around.
  • I got into roller skating for a while (a brilliant idea for someone as accident prone as me) and decided an old fashioned game of Crack the Whip would be fun and not at all dangerous. As the final person on the whip, I lost hold of the other child’s hand and flew across the length of Skate King, finally crashing into the floor. But that wasn’t the end of it. Oh no. While I was lying there, groaning, another child took the opportunity to skate over my hand and break it.
  • Remember when I fainted as an adult? I did that as a kid, too. I got up too quickly and ran into the kitchen, where I immediately fainted. But, being me, I couldn’t just faint like a normal person. I had to bash my head on the oven on the way down. Even though I was unconscious, I could still feel how much it hurt.

When I think about all these falls collectively, I begin to realize maybe something isn’t normal here. People aren’t supposed to fall down that much, are they? I know I’m a little clumsy, but damn.

Maybe I’m lucky. With my record, I should be severely concussed or dead. So far my body has shown enough resilience to get me though each of these incidents without long-term consequences.

But what happens when I’m older? When I start getting confused by slang and my body isn’t quite as tough anymore?

My bone density isn’t always going to be be as sexy as it is right now. Falling as an old person isn’t going to end with me limping away. It’s going to end with me being able to wear my own pelvis as earrings and a necklace.

So I need to fix this fast. Before I sprout my first gray hair. Before I start wondering who all the people are at award shows.

How does one become less clumsy? Anyone know?

Seems hard.

Maybe I’ll just find myself a human-sized hamster ball and hang out in there 100% of the time. That might be a more realistic approach, if we’re being honest.


Thanks for reading! For more stuff I’m on twitter and I have a newsletter.

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Engaged in inadvisable wordsmitheries and other creative acts.

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