My new goal is not just to fall, but to fall in such a manner that I can be assured of being as embarrassed as humanly possible. I started out a few months ago by falling in the shower and not being able to get myself out, much less up, and having to call the fire department to come pick me up and get me on my feet. I am still grateful to those guys who came and did that and did it with such style and grace and didn’t make me feel ridiculous – at least not more ridiculous than I already felt.
This morning I wasn’t feeling well. I had a sore throat and thought I would go to the convenience store to get a quart of orange juice. I did not go to the store closest to my home because I know of a different store that has orange juice on sale; this other store is nowhere near as brightly lit (a fact which will become important later).
I also have to step up on a curb to get into the store; that too will become important. Also, there are those little stops for the car; you know, the little curb so your car tires know when to stop? Again, important foreshadowing.
I parked the car (at the curb) and got out. Should I lock the door, I asked myself. No, nothing to lock up. I’ll be quick. I stepped up on the curb, using the handicapped parking pole to balance myself, and walked into the store. No problem. I got my drinks and such, paid for my purchases, and exited the store.
This is the part that gets good.
I stepped down from the curb. No problem. I used the pole to balance. No problem. I stepped around the car curb. With one foot. The other snagged on the car curb. Problem.
Down I went. Crashed to the ground. Dropped my bag. Probably cussed, but definitely said, “Oh, come on.”
Would someone come out of the store to help me? Nope: no one saw. Remember the darkness? There’s more about the darkness in a second, but for right now just know that no one saw me.
So there I am, on the ground, on my back. I had fallen onto my knees (how have they survived after so many falls? I have no idea), rolled to my hip, and then onto my back. My head was downhill a bit, so I could not immediately sit up. I had to roll on my side, shift my position, and get up onto an elbow. At that point, I became aware that my shirt had ridden up above my belly. I tried to pull it down with little luck. As I managed to sit up, I also realized that my pants had fallen a bit. I’d need to pull them up when I could.
OK, no one from the store was coming to help me. No one was at the gas island. It was up to me. That was good: I wouldn’t have asked for or accepted help. But what was I going to do? I couldn’t just stand: I needed something to push up on. The curb? Too low. The pole? I need to push up, not pull up. But there was my car. Happily, I remembered that I had left my car unlocked. I got to my knees – painfully; they hurt! – and pulled at the handle. It was locked. No, it wasn’t locked. I tried it again.
Yup, it was locked.
I got back onto my butt and reached into my pants pocket. I drew forth, not my keys, but just the door unlocking thing. It had broken off the keyring during the fall. I pressed the button to unlock the door. Lucky for me, it worked.
The problem now was that I had thirty seconds to open the door before it would re-lock itself. In that time, I had to get back to my knees (painful as it was), get back over to the car, and open it. If I didn’t make it, I’d have to do it all over again. Could I make it in time?
As I got to my knees again, I totally lost my pants. They fell down to my thighs, and by the time I had shuffled to the car, they were down to my knees. My shirt, which I had valiantly tried to pull down, was up above my belly again.
Normal Rockwell never painted pictures like this. Please be sure you get this vision firmly burned into your brain: the front of a no-name convenience store, dimly lit. A bag of dropped drinks and snackstuffs. An orange Honda Element with the driver’s door open. There, on his knees at the edge of the door, a very fat man with his shirt up above his huge belly, his pants crumpled around his knees, his boxer shorts catching a breeze from the cold morning air, distress etched into the lines of his face. And there, poised in the car’s doorway, our hero places unsteady hands on the floorboard and the inner door frame. He screws up his face, grits his teeth, and pushes down with his arms. As he rises, his pants fall down to his ankles.
But he’s up!
I rose, pulled my shirt down and my pants up as quickly as I could, and leaned against the car frame. It was only then that someone walked out of the store. I asked him to help me by picking up the things I dropped. He did so, explaining that he hadn’t seen me fall. I found the keys in my pocket, got into my car, and continued on my way.
It’s a shame you weren’t there with a video camera – guaranteed viral video!