Thursday, July 28, 2011

A View from a Fall

Over the past few months, I’ve been in search of a new pair of walking shoes. I have some foot issues, so I didn't want to buy just anything. I’ve done that before, to not-so-much-fun results. A friend suggested toning shoes, those wonderful rocking shoes that supposedly tighten up loose muscles as you walk. So I took a look.

And laughed. The first article I read suggested that if you have balance problems you should avoid them. Well, OK, then. On to the next shoe style.

Because my lack of balance is legendary. I cannot walk straight, and falling is almost a pastime. I run into walls, trip over boxes, bump into counters. Two back-to-back sprains when I was a teenager left my ankles weak, so they flip easily. I loved to backpack and hike, so I used to carry crutches in my truck. I’ve fallen off walls, out of trees, up stairs, down stairs. When I was five, I fell on a furnace grate and ripped open my knee. Forty-five years later, I fell on a stone patio with the same result. I don’t avoid steps because I’m lazy; I do it because I’d prefer not to do a barrel roll down them.

But I don’t usually get hurt, and I got over the humiliation factor a long time ago. Sometimes, you just have to see the humor of the unexpected pratfall. When I was moving into new place a couple of weeks ago, I stepped in a hole and hit the ground so hard, face first, that my friend thought I was unconscious. Then she realized I was laughing.

Probably the queen of those moments was the last time I wore a mini-skirt. I’d lost weight. My legs were tan and firm. I was cute, prancing through K-Mart in my kitten heels and tight skirt. Got my items, checked out, and turned to leave. Only I didn’t get far.

One leg shot out from under me, and I went straight down, with my rear landing on top of my other foot. So sitting there looking like a one-legged goose, I giggled and tried to get up…only to realize my heel had snagged in my hem. I couldn’t reach it; couldn’t get my other leg bent. Couldn’t lean forward without tearing the back out of my skirt. I couldn’t get up without showing my behind to the world.

I was stuck. I put my head down, laughing so hard I couldn’t get my breath. The manager rushed over, seeing this woman on the floor shuddering helplessly. He wanted to call an ambulance, suddenly seeing his profits go up in lawsuit smoke. I waved him off, finally gasping out my predicament.

The sweet man tried so hard not to laugh I think he swallowed his gum. Finally, at my suggestion, he called over a security guard and one of the cashiers. She stood behind me, and the two men lifted me by the arms as she untangled my heel.

I once heard Liz Curtis Higgs talk about learning to laugh at yourself; that it’s a great sign of maturity. I think it’s also a sign that you can see yourself through others’ eyes, and that’s an extraordinarily valuable perspective for a writer – and a compassionate human being. To see the world as others do, can change your own.


PamelaTracy said...

Ramona, I laugh when I fall too, and I'm so glad most of my embarrassing falls happened before people had cell phone cameras.

Dana Mentink said...

It's so true. If you can't laugh at yourself, the world will be happy to do it for you!

I thought it was funny when I got those 'toning' shoes that they came with instructions. Instructions for shoes? Wow!

Author Sandra D. Bricker said...

We have far more in common than I realized. Love you, soul sistah.