"I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I write and I understand." - Chinese proverb

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Encouraging myself to write something every Friday has challenges I have never been aware of until now.  There is no dearth of material to be had, but sometimes things just don't come together.  This weekend I took it in my head I was going to write about television -- the early days of cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers and Tarzan movies.  Don't think I'm not trying.  I have worked on something like 5 drafts, but I just keep coming up with lists of shows we watched (in case you wonder, my first recollections would be:

The Real McCoys, Ozzie and Harriet, Perry Mason, Leave it to Beaver, The Three Stooges, Lassie, and the Gale Storm Show. A well-rounded offering, to be sure.  And in black and white.)  But truth to tell we didn't watch a whole lot of TV when we were kids, because we had a bunch of other stuff we liked to do.  Play cops-and-robbers with our cap guns, for instance, or fool with our chemistry sets or finger-paint or run around outside like wild people, dangling off tree limbs and cartwheeling across the lawn.  I was a very active little kid, but I was not terribly graceful.  I fell a lot.  On my knees, mostly.

So I give up.  (For now.)  I sit here somewhat bereft with yet more scraped and bruised knees to add insult to injury.  Or injury to insult.  But no broken bones, fortunately, as I fell again yesterday and I am thinking this runs in my mother's side of the family.  That is despite that fact that my father has had his share of distinguished and notable falls.  (Especially the "Here-I-go!"-Fall I wrote of in my "FUNNY MAN" post, and one other one where he fell off a stool with wheels on it in the bone doctor's office while waiting to consult him on an orthopedic matter.)  My Uncle Bob (my mother's brother), however, beats that hands down.  Bob has the  Slipped-On-Wet-Steps-In-Hawaii Fall, the Painting-The-Bathroom-Ceiling-On-A-Small-Ladder Fall, the Fell-Asleep-At-The-Computer-And-Slipped- Off-The-Chair Fall, the Riding-The-Tractor-Into-The-Small-Tree Fall, and the Answering-The-Phone-And-Getting-Tangled-In-The-Cord Fall.  (He has, in fact, made a rough drawing of the tractor incident which he felt was noteworthy.  If I can find it I'll post it here.) 

Yesterday, really, could've happened to anyone.  I do have to acknowledge that I have gained weight over the past 5 or 6 years and thus I often find myself confused as to why a body part that should have fit through a doorway ended up scraping painfully against it instead, and my balance, perhaps because there is a lot more of me, isn't entirely what it used to be.  All I did was reach into the back seat of my car to grab some returnable bottles, and as I shut the door and turned around, my shoe caught the edge of the curb and I went down flying.  It stunned me initially as I felt as though I ought to have broken every bone in my body.  Two women, one of them actually dressed in a nurse's uniform, came running over to help me, while a young boy chased the bottles around the parking lot and put them back in my bag.  All the while the friend I was with sat in my car reading, oblivious, which cast a sort of humorous slant on the whole thing.  The nicest part was that I did not pee my pants.

I fell last summer at my annual picnic.  This one was most embarrassing.  I mean, you don't want to fall out of your chair in the middle of a large gathering of friends and relatives, even though they would certainly be your most sympathetic audience.  You know those white plastic lawn chairs, don't you.  They tend to be somewhat flimsy (some years ago, in fact, my mother fell sideways out of one and accidentally broke wind.  Fortunately the only other person there at the time was my aunt, who laughed.)  Anyway I had scattered them throughout the yard, including fairly close to the border where there is a stone wall and a strip of weeds, mulch, and soft moist dirt.  "Hi guys," I was saying, sitting down to mingle with the people who were over there.  This was bad.  I knew in an instant that I was going over and there was nothing I could do about it. 

One foot of the chair went down into this soft leafy dirt and I went tumbling backward.  Bad enough, but I also had a loose, flowing sun dress on that flew up and over my head as I landed.  There I was in my underwear, not even flirty underwear -- my big girl panties.  Next thing I knew two friends, Nancy and Sarah, who had been sitting there, had gotten up and pulled their own flowing skirts aside to shield me.  This prompt action was so appreciated, words can never do it justice.  

I managed to pull my dress back down with some semblance of dignity thanks to them.  Then I turned over and got up on my knees as my cousin Tim ran over to give me a hand up.  When we're in this predicament, why do we always say "I'm okay, nope, that's fine, I'm perfectly okay, thank you, I'll be alright"?  Why don't we just take the help?  A large group of people had just seen me going backward in slow motion and my dress flipping up over my head.  Some time to be proud. 

That stone wall area, in fact, is a tricky spot.  Red berries grow on a bush there and every Christmas when I do my window box with greens, I try to get some branches from that berry bush.  I don't know what kind of bush it is but it's prickly, and sort of hangs over on the other side of the stone wall where it's very overgrown.  Two years ago I lost my footing reaching for them and toppled down onto the prickers, very narrowly missing the barbed wire fence.  It knocked the wind out of me.  As it was winter, I thought I might freeze out here unless someone noticed I was missing.  Fortunately I got my breath back and was able to painfully scramble over the stones into my own yard and hobble through the snow back into the house.  The same damn thing happened last year even though I resolved that it would not.  I use artificial berries now.

There are two legendary falls I can lay claim to.  The first one happened because a local hospital was supposed to be sending some of my mother's medical records up to her cardiologist in the city, and they kept stalling.  Finally I said the hell with it, I'm going to drive up during my lunch hour (about a 15 minute drive one way) and pick up the damn things myself.  Construction work was going on in the parking garage (isn't it always?) and the security guard motioned me over to this other, slightly off the beaten track area to park.  I got out of the car, I was mad, and I had these totally cool gray Dingo boots on that had no traction on the bottom.  There was a little knoll I had to walk down and my feet went out from under me on the ice.  Again I did the "No no, I'm fine" thing when a man asked me if I was okay, and I managed to get myself up and stride into the hospital.  In my stern demeanor I failed to notice that my knees were shredded and dripping blood.  

Up to the cardiology office I went, with one thing on my mind.  Suffice it to say that they quickly produced both my mom's records and a wheelchair for me.  I ended up in their emergency room on a stretcher while a nurse cleaned and bandaged my legs.  Then they took me into X-ray to be sure I hadn't fractured anything.  Then I had to make an Incident Report.  I left on crutches.  This all happened a few days before Christmas, and on Christmas Eve day I wasn't feeling very well and started running a fever.  This time I ended up at that same hospital's walk-in clinic with an infection in one of my wounds.  Joy to the World.

And there is one other good one.  Back when I was still living at home with my parents I was lying in bed reading one night when I realized I was hungry and there was leftover spaghetti to be had in the fridge downstairs.  I couldn't talk myself out of it, so I got up, started down and at the last minute saw the cat sleeping on the second to the top step.  In my benevolent haste to avoid hurting her, my slippered foot went out from under me and I fell all the way down until the wall at the bottom stopped me.  (These are older stairs, with a landing.  Ha ha -- yeah a landing, all right.)  My right arm had taken the brunt of it and when my mother got up to see what was going on, I told her I thought my arm was broken.  We headed for the ER, where they x-rayed my arm and pronounced it fine, but informed me that there was a very large hematoma forming on my right butt cheek and that should be watched.  "In other words," my father pronounced the next day, "you really don't know your ass from your elbow."


  1. I know it's not nice to laugh when people fall...but that was really funny!

  2. Thank you Doreen -- I laughed out loud myself when I re-read it!!!

  3. I think you have a great idea here. I think you could streamline it a bit, possibly by going from the smaller falls to the bigger falls-- or the childhood falls to the adult falls; the self-deprecating humor works really well. I can so relate, having fallen and fallen some more and never listening to the people who told me I was not a cat with nine lives. Ergo, walker and wheelchair. My biggest fear is the fear of falling. I'd revise it and try it on the Rumpus, maybe! xj