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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Legend of the Fall

It's that time of year. Grown women and men, who've been walking unassisted for years, may suddenly just go sprawling on the ground, due, allegedly, to so-called "black ice." That is the only explanation I can fathom for what happened to me one year ago this month. The following is mostly excerpted from my feeble attempt at keeping a journal, which was my feeble attempt at keeping a New Year's resolution:

First journal entry: Saturday morning, 7:30, I'm in the parking lot of the church, site of the 8 a.m. basketball game, for which LG will be cheerleading. I fall. I FELL. My Olympus digital camera flew in one direction. My black suede hobo purse flew in another. My very cool black-framed Prada eyeglasses flew in yet another. Don't ask me how. I don't know HOW!!! I'll have to make up that story later. Just one minute, I'm strolling across the parking lot, the "squad photographer," ready to take my pix, and the next second, THUD, I'm face-down, shocked, hurt, missing many of my belongings. No tripping, no stumbling, just there I was. I couldn't move, for a long time. Just taking inventory. Then I finally roll over. OK, let me just say here, that it IS TRUE: the bigger they are, the harder they fall. All true. I hadn't fallen since childhood, except perhaps in soft snow, and this fall was HARD.

I roll over, sit up, and someone comes over to help, hands me glasses (scraaaaatched), purse, camera. No, don't need anything, yes, probably some ice would be good, no, just need to sit for a minute. Right knee is potentially in big trouble. Raise leg, bend knee, bend, bend, OK, not broken. Reassure LG. Again, and again.

Later (that woman never did show up with that ice!), I did my job, taking pictures of the cheerleaders (adorable little smunchkins!) doing their thing. Talking with the daddy of one of the other girls, and telling him the legend of my fall, I recounted the story of the elderly Kathryn Windham, a featured teller that I had heard at the National Storytelling Festival one year. She has said that while young people "fall," or "fall down," old people "HAVE a fall," or "TAKE a fall." So while I was lying there on the asphalt, it did cross my mind, "Hmmm, I wonder if I just FELL, or if, at 40something, I had HAD my first fall?" Oh, the things a girl thinks of when she's lying prone in a parking lot!

He and I are laughing about this, and the very sweet, very cool other-cheerleader's-daddy allowed that, oh no, I was way too young to have HAD a fall -- I just plain FELL, he said. Well, good. Thank you for that.

In the car going home, LG, who has heard my conversation with her friend's daddy, calls Jif on my cellphone and announces, "Mama HAD A FALL!" followed by evil laughter. Later the three of us talked about it and I explained to the child how, if she knows what's good for her, she'll tell the story of me "falling," or even the younger version, "falling down," and she'll not mention again my "HAVING" or "TAKING" any such thing. So Jif and I educate her thoroughly on these nuances, and we even throw in that when you get REALLY, REALLY old -- or DEAD -- you enter a whole new category, and may be said to have "TIPPED OVER."

Second journal entry: Still on the falling thing; but I do have one green hand and two purple-and-green knees, so as long as I'm still a "colored girl" from the fall, I can still pontificate on it. Talking about the seasons of one's falling life last night in bed with Jif -- after arguing over whose knees hurt more (1. How could he possibly win, he didn't even FALL!? 2. That's what you do after age 45 in bed, you fight over whose parts hurt more. What, you didn't know this?) -- Jif says that "falling down" is not actually the first manifestation of this occurrence in one's life. Even younger than that, you "fall-down-go-BOOM!"

Well, that is true, I countered, but there is a stage even younger than that, at which you "get DROPPED!" I add that I know this stage exists, because my one and only baby, for whom I endured all manner of torture to procure, GOT DROPPED when she was only a couple of months old, by HER FATHER!

Well, he says, if we're going to go there, "Tipping Over" isn't the last stage after all; you might actually GET DROPPED again at the very end!

Epilogue: It was April before I could kneel, due to the injuries sustained in the legendary fall. The one where I FELL. And you might not think being unable to kneel would be a big deal, but it was. Kneeling is useful for many occasions, and has its place in matters of reverence, convenience and recreation. Don't take kneeling for granted, friends.

26 heads are better than one . . .

Blogger Jim said...

That was very well written and now I have to wonder if I've 'taken a fall'. I don't want to break a hip or anything.

You know, it's funny. My mom started living with me about a year ago and I notice she falls a lot. When I was a kid, I'd never seen her fall - and now she trips walking out of a hotel in Portland, Oregon and breaks her arm.

When I get like that, I think I'll buy one of those scooter things and hope I don't get dropped.

Anonymous kalki said...

I had never thought about the whole have/take a fall thing only being used with older people, but it's true! Funny. Random bit of trivia: In Redneck Valley, "falling off" means to lose weight. As in, "I think that cow is falling off - wonder if she's sick." And "tipping" is something bored teenagers do, also involving cows.

Blogger MrsDoF said...

When I was age 23 and about 7 months pregnant with firstborn, I was helping out with a potluck dinner at church.
The guy in the kitchen kept giving me items that were not too heavy, because of my condition.
I was carrying a tray of biscuits to the serving table. A double barrier for eyesight here, my tummy and a tray.
Someone had left a footstool in the aisle, the minister's wife who had been putting up decorations.
I did not see this stool, and banged both shins up against it.
The tray and all its biscuits went flying. For balance, my hand grabbed out at the closest object, a bookcase.
All I could think of was the baby, so my other hand went round my tummy to protect my frontside.
My knees buckled over the top of the stool, and by now I could feel their skin tearing from the edge of the metal.
I never got all the way to the floor, but the way my back twisted up, going down flat might have been easier.
The man from the kitchen hurried out to help me and assess the damage.
His first words were "Is the baby alright?"
Yeah, the baby floating around in its little bag of waters and protective motherly instinct were doing fine. I dislocated a finger when I grabbed the bookshelf, and my legs were a bruised and bloody mess. Thank goodness, no stitches, but healing ragged edges for layers of skin seemed worse.
The next six weeks of applying ointment coincided with the last six weeks of being pregnant when I couldn't see my feet.
I was much younger then, but I will say that I Had a Fall.
When I get to the age when the wording is correct, I'll feel like I'm ready for it.

Blogger Susie said...

jim, thanks! Hmmm, I've got a birthday coming up, maybe I'll ask for a scooter . . . Oh, I hope you (and I) don't get dropped, too; that would be bad.

kalki, I've heard of, though never engaged in, cow tipping. I am very familiar with "falling off," although, regrettably, I haven't done much of it myself. I have also heard the description of extreme "falling off," when someone can be said to have "fell away to nothin'." Not good, that.

Ohmygosh, mrsDoF, you surely did HAVE A FALL; oh yea, that was way beyond falling. Owie.

Blogger mreddie said...

The next natural position after falling is to get on one's knees before rising again - whether the fall was physical or spiritual. ec

Blogger Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Falling—no matter how we do it—always seems to precede getting up, unless one got down in some other manner.

Blogger Candace said...

I "took a spill" when I was pregnant with #1, about 7 or 8 months pregnant.

I know I "took a spill" because when I called the OB to see if I needed to do anything about it (as my frontside took the brunt of the landing) the nurse didn't actually put me on hold, she just put the phone down on the desk and said, "One of the patients took a spill."

I had to have an ultrasound that day; everything was fine but I had a not-so-lovely ache for, it seemed, the rest of the pregnancy.

It seems pregnant women don't fall, they take a spill.

Blogger WILLIAM said...

Now you got me thinking of a couple of things.
1. Did Kalki just equate this story to cows? (I am not trying to start anything here).
2. All the types of falls that are taken. "In Love" "Off the Wagon" "for someone" "london Bridges".
3. I always say "did a header" I do not know what that means.
4. I love Mreddie's comments
5. I love your writing.

Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

So you wouldn't classify my falling off the sidewalk into the Chicago quicksand last summer as "taking a fall"?

Blogger Susie said...

mreddie, perhaps that is another reason why my fall was most unnatural. I could not get on my knees, for any reason, for months :(

ssnick, you have me considering all the other manners in which one might get down (get up and boogie...)

misfit, well, I'll be. Yet another way in which a person can go from upright to downwrong: the taking of a spill. You know, I'll bet mrsDoF took a spill, and it was never properly diagnosed.

william, *gasp*, bitch called me a cow, didn't she? There are many ways to fall. At my wedding, a cousin sang, "I Can't Help Falling in Love with You..." I wonder if that was an omen?

bucky, hmmm, I remember that one. You may have done a header. heh. heh heh.


Blogger MrsDoF said...

Thank You kindly, Miss Susie.
It seems it has been years since I even thought about that particular happening until reading this fine post of yours.
I'm not sure I would ever want to find myself in your office for professional counseling.

I should mention that the stool which caused all the problems got shuffled off to a maintenance shed, where it was declared unsafe.
The man said if that stool were in a regular workplace, OSHA would have had a field day with all the improper features.
At the time, most people seem to think that a church building and charity budget has allowances for things falling into disrepair and not being replaced.
We seem to be getting past that idea and having folks-in-office being held accountable for possessions.

Blogger Nina said...

See there was black ice, so none of the other stuff counts. :)
The worst injuries I have ever suffered from falling have been from falling up.
I somehow passed on the ability to fall while walking up stairs to two of my children.

Blogger Cat said...

I shall never take kneeling for granted, Susie! NEVAH!

I am cracking up (so sorry about your fall) and wondering how I never noticed the slight distinction between "falling" (really, so sad) and "taking a fall" (sorry!). What a hoot you are. And yes, I am 34 and say "What a hoot!" I also have been known to tell my son he looks "sharp." Mostly as my own personal joke. Um, because I am weird?

My mother "had a fall" (*insert evil laugher here*) VERY similar to yours when I was in high school. Woman fell HARD. Tore her nylons. Blood EVERYWHERE. A cement parking barrier got her; it came outta nowhere, I tell you what. You know what I think? High school parking lots are CURSED, that's what! Just so you know.

Anyhoos, thanks for the laugh!

Blogger Squirl said...

I have fallen on ice. Believe me, I could be the president of the klutz club. But, of course, our normal reaction is to NOT fall. So I usually just end up throwing my back out with all the gyrations necessary to keep myself off the ground. At least I've never broken any bones, just some really pretty bruises.

Blogger eclectic said...

Recreational kneeling, eh, Susie? Nope... not goin' there.

***evil chortle***

Blogger OldHorsetailSnake said...

What is even worse is getting busted.

Great stories, kid.

Blogger momo said...

Oh my! This was truly a thought provoking post.

I'm not real sure just how my "falls" should be classified considering I'm in my early 30 and middle name isn't grace. I've had a lifetime of "falls", or better said I'm clumsy!!!

Anonymous stringmuse said...

You're lying on the ground, sprawled out and in pain, and someone comes by, reaches out a helping hand and asks, "Have a fall?"

The correct response is, "No thanks, just had one."

But seriously susie, I empathize. Black ice is one part frozen water and two parts surprise. Several years after I graduated from college I went to the North Carolina piedmont (where there is NEVER ice) to visit my former roommate.

As I pulled in the driveway I was eager to exchange hugs and greetings with my roommate and her husband, who had just turned on a bright light at the door. I stepped out of the car and landed on the back of my neck.

I was fine but my roommate could see I was not aging gracefully.

Happy new year, susie and blog friends!

Blogger Susie said...

mrsDoF, why can't I be your counselor? I promise I won't FALL! Or even take a spill ;)

nina, I have heard of the falling up, but knock on wood, have not yet done that one. I still am not SURE it was black ice. I have no idea, so that's what I blame.

cat, you are a HOOT! I say that, too, and I, too, am weird, thank you very much. When you were in high school, I think your mom was way too young to have HAD a fall. I am intrigued by William's "did a header," and I suspect that may have been the case with yo' mama.

squirl, oh I know about the twisted muscles from trying to avoid a fall, such as on ice skates. That's what was so bizarre about my fall last year; there was no stumbling, no trying to stay up, just one second, upright, the next, flat on my front on the pavement. Weird.

eclectictheevilchortler, I cannot begin to imagine to what you allude; there are some perfectly innocent recreational activities that could potentially involve kneeling . . . like . . . lemme get back to you . . .

hoss, you got busted? Do tell. . .

momo, hmmm, there must be a more politically correct term than clumsy; you're much too delightful to be clumsy . . . coordinationally challenged?

stringmuse, HEY! It's good to see you; I shall be emailing you and a few other old (and I mean that in the nicest way) friends soon! Landing on the back of your NECK? OW. That sounds like an injury that would involve lasting memories . . .

Blogger Effie said...


Ain't nothin' more to say.

Except--people are sometimes "felled" as are trees...that's the only other conjugation of the word/phrase I could think of....

Blogger Sheryle said...

When my girls were babies I was going down our hard wood stairs to the hard wood first floor carrying one of them and tripped two stairs from the bottom.

Split second choice of "save yourself" or "save baby" is, of course, no choice at all. I landed with all my (and baby's) weight on my knees on the hard floor, arms tight around my child.

She looked at me with concern and I managed to squeak out, "Mama...is...ok...". The fall made a hole in each knee of my brand new jeans.

Blogger MilkMaid said...

Ok, for how long were you colored? That just cracked me up..sorry LOL!

Anonymous lawbrat said...

Oh no. I can just picture it. So not fun.

Your knees definetly hurt more than Jif's.

That. is. all.

Blogger Susie said...

effie, I have written about some embarrassing things here, but I gotta say, if I am ever "felled," I am keeping that to mydamnself :p

sheryle, welcome, and OW. To make holes in brand new jeans, that must have been quite something. Bet you couldn't kneel for a LONG time.

milkmaid, I was a colored girl (or as I prefer, "female of color") for a good two weeks!

lawbrat, thank you for choosing the right side in that argument :)

Blogger Von Krankipantzen said...

Coincidentally I just happened to fall on a frosty sidewalk just before Christmas. Like right down flat on my side. Like right in front of several people who rushed over to me with concern. Only my dignity was wounded. What age exactly does falling down become traumatic opposed to a normal occurrence?

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