My friend Dawnie fell down at church a couple of weeks ago. She twisted both ankles. It was terribly tragic.
However, because she lived, her story is now fair game.
She says she looked just like this poor model, shown in the following video:
(Stupid Blogger wouldn't upload the actual video, so here's the link. Maybe open a 2nd window to watch this from, since it will navigate you away from this post, and you don't want to miss the exciting ending!)
Note: The link no longer works. Sorry.
Now, if you didn't actually watch the video, allow me to recap. A news anchor team, made up of two jerks and a woman, are reporting on a mishap on a Paris fashion runway wherein a model falls down, not once but twice.
And the second time it's one of those teeter-teeter-wobble-whoa-nonononono-ohshi-CLUNK kinds of falls.
It doesn't help that the girl is wearing platform shoes straight out of Gene Simmons' personal collection; they pretty much double her height. So falling off of them would be like a normal person falling off of, say, a pair of Romper Stompers the size of a book case. (If you don't know what Romper Stompers are, for heaven's sake turn 30 already.)
Anyway, the two news guys can't stop laughing. In fact, I have to admit, most of the entertainment comes from watching these so-called professionals nearly wet themselves chortling over this gal's misfortune. The one even starts to apologize for their behavior, and the other one cuts him off with, "Wait, wait, here she goes again!" And they replay the footage for, like, the ninth time, with the anchors slapping the news desk and hooting with laughter.
So Dawnie and I were discussing her particular fall, which involved, like our Parisienne model, high shoes and male witnesses. In Dawnie's case, it also involved a mislaid Hymnal and bad timing.
While walking through the cultural hall, she accidentally stepped on a Hymn book, which was open and already falling apart. So when she hit the book, it slipped under her foot like a rogue lasagna noodle. Which then caused her to lunge onto the other side of the doomed Hymnal, which slid away in a generally "opposite" direction from where she stood.
And down she went.
The thing was, after Dawnie hit the floor -- with both cheeks, may I add; this was no mere stumble -- instead of rushing to her aid, the two men (who were setting up chairs) just sorta looked over at her with a "Huh. Whaddya know. Woman on the floor," kind of expression.
But if that weren't enough, Dawnie's first reaction was to laugh and say, "Did you see THAT?", thereby letting them off the hook and nullifying any future opportunities to sue the useless men for Catastrophic Failure of Chivalry.
Which brings me to the subject of my post:
Why is it, when women fall down, before we check for injuries, we check for witnesses? Cuz I'm telling you, I could snap my spine, leaving me paralyzed from the saddle bags down, and I'd still manage to commando-crawl myself out of the room rather than risk being noticed by anyone.
"Are you okay?" are the last three words any woman on the floor wants to hear. In fact, we all secretly hope that, if we go down, we'll be knocked unconscious, just so we aren't around for the witness statements.
One summer day, I was in my in-laws' backyard, engaged in mortal combat with a hammock. Why I was attempting to "relax" in what amounted to a bag woven entirely of knots is beyond me. It was one of those diabolical free-standing jobbies that are suspended by a couple of S-shaped hooks from a metal frame composed of two-inch pipes welded together by the fiends of hell.
In order to keep the hammock stable, the frame not only ran along both sides of the hammock area, but it included a third pipe which lay directly beneath the center of the hammock itself.
After spending a good, make that a lousy, 15 minutes trying to situate myself in the hammock in such a way that I was essentially immobilized out of fear that any movement, sudden or otherwise, would pitch me one way or the other out of the blasted thing, I finally began to relax.
Knowing that it had me just where it wanted me, the hammock took this opportunity to dislodge the two S-hooks, and instead of my falling to the left or the right, I fell straight down, taking that damnable bag o' knots with me.
And because I had so carefully positioned myself in the exact middle of the hammock to begin with, I landed on that third, center pipe, which nailed me from the crown of my head, down the full length of my spine, right to my tailbone.
Can I tell you? That hurt every bit as much you think it did. I'm pretty sure I broke my bum. Cracked it, as it were.
But I set a land speed record for Bouncing Up Off A Collapsed Hammock, and even before the pain receptors running along 3 1/2 of my 5 1/2 feet had a chance to inform my brain that they would be working overtime on this one, I was standing straight up, frantically scanning both adjoining yards and my in-laws' windows, praying no one had actually seen me fall.
The very possibility that there may have been a witness to the whole spectacle generated its own gravity defying momentum, propelling me from "prone" to "bolt upright" without passing through any of the more traditional stages of levitation, like those requiring, for example, bending.
I can assure any who wonder, it is absolutely impossible to die from embarrassment. How do I know? Because any woman who fell down in front of onlookers and croaked out of sheer humiliation would be INSTANTLY resurrected just to guarantee that she was back on her feet and, to all appearances, immune to gravity. And I'm pretty sure none of the women in my circle are resurrected beings, despite our having fallen down in so many creative ways and exotic locales we could hire out as landscape density analysts. Why, in my family alone we've managed to turf it on multiple continents, on land and sea, and in a number of languages.
For us, smacking the pavement with our kiesters is the universal symbol for "Hi, howya doin'?"
Ironically, however, the women in my family, who are undoubtedly the most experienced, most thoroughly trained faller-downers in the history of the art, are also the WORST people to have on hand when someone else is tumbling into history. To our way of thinking, there is nothing more down and dirty, gut bustingly hysterical than watching someone else fall.
Throw in a set of stairs, and, well, it's all over but the mopping up. My mother fell down the stairs once, broke her ankle and everything, and rather than help her up or call an ambulance or do anything useful, we, her four grown daughters, collapsed in a heap and nearly asphixiated from laughter.
That's the kind of wicked gene pool I crawled out of.
One evening in Seattle, I participated in a "Cultural Arts" fireside, where all the musical numbers were really snooty and classical and stuff. My group, for example, sang 6 Brahms Motets, in German of course, while accompanied by two women at the piano.
These pianists looked like the daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Sprat. One was tall and skinny, and the other was, well, not.
When I returned to my seat on a bench occupied by my mother, my sister, my aunt, and my cousin -- as well as my husband -- I was a little annoyed to find the women nearly rupturing their innards trying to contain what was clearly weapons grade giggling.
Seeing the confusion on my face, my husband leaned over and said, "You didn't see her fall, did you?"
No. No I didn't.
"Well, that, um, rounder pianist caught her heel on the edge of the step coming off the stand, and sort of, well, drifted down to the floor. It was quite a thing to see, really. Slow, almost graceful, and it took rather a long time to happen."
When I asked how I could have failed even to hear it -- after all, at one point she was right behind me! -- he said, "Well, I don't know. It was kinda....sorta....you know..... soft and squishy....."
Oh! How lamentable! An opportunity lost! I was so disappointed to have been that close to a major biff only to still have missed it!
In fact, one of my deepest regrets is not having seen my mom fall down in the middle of Main Street in SLC, right where Brigham Young is pointing ("Land there," he seems to be saying) and managing to toss a trayful of sandwiches over a three block radius in the process. I mean, I'm glad she wasn't, you know, run over or anything. But, dang! You just can't pay for that kind of entertainment.
So here's to Dawnie and my mother and ankle twisting, back bruising, gravity defying women everywhere. I hope you're all feeling better. I hope you manage to remain essentially perpendicular to the sidewalk.
And I hope -- oh, how I hope! -- if you ever find yourself on a French runway wearing a couple of six-foot Romper Stompers, I've got a front row seat, a good cam-corder, and an industrial pair of adult undergarments.
Feel free to drop in. You can't miss me.
I'll be the one in the hammock.