I have fallen flat on my face–quite literally–many times in my life.
1. Once I slipped getting on the school bus and ended up sprawled beneath the school bus.
2. My first week at college I tripped going up some brick stairs, my backpack flew gracefully over my head, and I limped to class pretending nothing had happened, only to find that my sandal-clad foot was bleeding profusely, matching the damage to my pride.
3. Another time I fell going up three measly stairs, in front of a small crowd, while my backpack executed the same soundless arc over my prostrate head, sticking the finish with an attention-grabbing thud.
4. Not too long after that in the grand scheme of things, I tripped on a wooden staircase that produced a rather impressive thack! and, to add insult to injury, was located in a corridor that echoed.
5. Once while jogging on a treadmill and adjusting the headphone jack in my portable CD player (don’t judge, this was a few years ago), I stopped running ever so briefly and was duly rocketed off the back of the still-moving treadmill; the Discman went airborne. My grasping hands caught the machine’s handles only long enough to ensure that I landed completely spread eagle for all the gym to see, since I had of course chosen the treadmill next to the wall of mirrors.
6. Stepping out of my car in a store parking lot I was diligently locking my doors and tucking the keys safely in my pocket when without so much as a helpless flailing of arms, I slipped on a rotting banana peel.
Too many times to remember I have simply missed a step or tripped on nothing and found myself suddenly inspecting sidewalks, carpets, and the undersides of desks and automobiles from an intimate distance.
It takes experience to fall with dignity and the best way to manage the clean up is not to pretend it didn’t happen. The oooomph one inadvertently mutters when falling unexpectedly, which one thinks is heard by no one, in fact resonates and can be heard for miles and through closed doors. Besides that, the swift change in trajectory for an object the size of a human being is particularly eye-catching and can be seen across great distances.
The best way to deal with an experience like those above is to rise as quickly as possible (although I have occasionally fallen and then laid still, hoping those around would think I was dead and go about their business) but then to take a bit of time in brushing off hands, knees, and yes, chin, with a self-deprecating smile plastered on one’s face. Even if one’s lips are bleeding. The casual righting of one’s appearance says wordlessly, “Hey, no big deal, my shoes fall through the empty space in these stairs all the time, it’s cool.”
It’s best not to speak to anyone during this ritual (for me it was a ritual, for anyone else I hope it’s a rare accident), but if asked “Holy sh—, are you ok??” by a concerned-and-later-amused bystander, a cheery “Yep, I’m fine!” is the best lie you’ll ever tell. Don’t let them see you cry. Pants can be replaced and there are other gyms to join.
This is all to give context.
Last night I took my first of the new pills and went to bed. This morning there was a two-hour delay for schools and federal agencies, so the husband and I both slept in. By 9:30 Dietrich was awake and needed to go outside, so after nine hours of sleep, I bounded out of bed, lurched to the door, and fell flat on my face into the empty dish drying rack on our wee counter.
Yes, I caught myself (look, I’m a pro, ok?) on the door handle and spice rack before going all the way down, but the husband had to corral me back to bed where the room continued to tilt whether my eyes were open or closed. After another two hours the effects of the pill from the night before had worn off and I gingerly emerged from our flannel snowman sheets.
Tonight I will take my meds earlier so that I’m dizzy and out of touch while the husband is home and not trying to shake the high while it’s just me and the dog. And the stairs to the great outdoors. Those things look like killers.