It’s about to be The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year— that is, the time of year when sidewalks get slick and foyers get slushy and people everywhere start falling on their arses.
You’d better take your bathroom breaks when you can get them, because the sight of an unsuspecting person taking a confident step that sends them sprawling across the ground is a sight so wondrous you may wet yourself.
There are times in life when we can lose sight of joy. Misfortune may befall us and it can take away our lives, it can take away our freedom but it can NEVER take away the boundless amusement of an epic fall:
Prior to this summer my absolute favorite fall would have to be the winter of 2009 when my very tall and very suave boss came to pick me up for work the morning after an ice storm. He parked his massive SUV on the edge of my yard where it got stuck before I’d made it safely out my door. He had come prepared and quickly produced sand, cardboard, and a shovel from the back of his car.
As I crunched my way across the frozen grass he moved determinedly towards the back wheel, shovel in hand. Just as he looked up to flash me a “we got this” kind of smile his foot slipped out from under him and his entire Abe Lincoln frame went soaring through the air, shovel still in hand, and landed with a THWACK upon the marbled snow of his tire ruts.
I may have peed a little.
Call me a terrible person, but I assure you I have repaid my weight in Karma.
This summer, just before my niece’s 7th birthday, I stopped at Target to grab a gift bag and some tissue paper. I was feeling particularly impressive because I am– of course– the Favorite Aunt. My four older brothers have given me a growing swarm of ten nieces and nephews, all of whom adore me and publicly declare “I don’t have a favorite!” before sneaking over to whisper in my ear “actually… you’re my favorite… but I’m not supposed to say that.”
I defend my title of Favorite Aunt by purchasing their love with extravagant and unreasonable gifts. This unwavering favoritism is initially instilled in them with old school conditioning while they are small and defenseless. I simply hold that which they desire (a binky, a piece of candy, a treasured blanket) just out of their reach and ask “Who’s your favorite Aunt?” until they say “Aussa!” Then I give them what they want. Works like a charm.
So there I was, spending ten million dollars at Target on sparkly wrapping apparatuses and feeling bouncy and blissful in the checkout line. It was a beautiful afternoon so I was wearing a dress and rocking a brand new pair of wedges– I’m generally not a shoe person but for some reason these had reached out and spoken to me. I thought they were saying “I am adorable and represent your self-worth, purchase me” when in reality they were saying “I will cause you unparalleled levels of embarrassment.”
Just as I was swiping my debit card, a woman entered the store with three young children. Two of the kids were having a meltdown over who got the honor of riding in the front of the shopping cart. I watched in amazement as the Mother pulled three huge red shopping carts from the stall, and placed one crying child in each. I couldn’t believe it– I can barely make it through a store without harming anyone when I have one shopping cart, but this woman was going to push THREE at the same time.
I couldn’t reach for my phone fast enough– I simply had to snap a photo of this defeated mother and her three little devils. Because I’m a terrible person and had not yet realized this is something that only terrible people do.
Phone in hand, I took two fateful steps out of the express lane– just enough to enter the middle of a wide open space– and then… I fell.
My fall was so dramatic that the earth shifted on it’s axis and the Eastern seaboard lost 3 seconds from their day. I watched as a cup of iced coffee flew from my hand in slow motion, it’s frothy liquid spilling through the air like a scene in zero gravity. My sunglasses skidded across the floor and my hands reached out with fingers spread just as I made contact with the tile.
All time and space paused for a moment as the sound of my fall echoed through the store. I lay flat on my face, in a dress, with shopping bags crunched beneath.
In what can only be described as an out of body experience, my soul lifted from within me and hovered about the room, sweeping in a panoramic to take in the shocked and joyously amused faces of my audience. The Deli Counter gave a standing ovation, the Coldstone Creamery girl stopped mid scoop, and every person waiting to be checked out stood frozen in slack jawed wonder.
And then the first responders were on the scene.
“OH MY GOD ARE YOU OKAY?”
“MA’AM, CAN I HELP YOU?”
“YOU FELL SO HARD, SO HARD!!!”
I flew to my feet, no doubt flashing my arse to the world, pausing briefly to scoop ice back into my dented Starbucks cup.
I looked back towards the entrance but three-carted woman had vanished– probably because she had the decency not to stand there laughing or taking my photo. People continued to rush towards me with concern for what surely must have been a lethal level of humiliation.
“I’m fine… just look for that on youtube tonight,” I reassured them with a little wave.
I smoothed my hair, adjusted my wayward dress, and limped out the building with my head held high. I collapsed into my car and proceeded to laugh myself to tears as I pictured– over and over– what it must have looked like to see a 5’11 woman in 3 inch wedges splayed across a white floor in a bright blue dress.
I should have kept my judgments to myself and offered up a Hail Mary or an ounce of empathy for a brave mother who dared to grocery shop with three kids under the age of 5. If I hadn’t been so keen on documenting her struggle, I could have avoided the skinned knees and utter devastation to my pride. Instead, I caused an entire grocery store of strangers to PEE THEMSELVES, and that, my friends, is why we don’t judge people.
Have you ever fallen– or otherwise humiliated yourself– in public? Do you possess a likeminded cruelty that causes you to laugh when other people fall? Has karma ever swiftly punished you for judging someone?
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