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.
Posted by Ramona Richards at 12:55 AM