Falling Down

There I was, enjoying the company of my friends and now it is time to go.  We walk outside and I see it is dark. I have noticed darkness happens right after sunset on an average of 12 hours per day, more or less; more in the winter, less in the summer.  

As I approached my car, I stub my toe on the parking curb.  It was hiding in the dark and I did not see it at all.  The next thing I notice is a compression of time.  Everything seems to slow down, almost to the point of stopping.  And there I am, tipping over.  I try to get my feet moving fast enough to stop the tip-over, but I was already way past over-center.

When time stops like this, it is amazing how fast and how much your mind can process seemingly instantaneously. 

My first thought, Oh, this is going to hurt.  My second thought was about the area on which I was about to land: asphalt, instead of grass.  I had a pretty good feeling I could handle a landing on grass.  Asphalt, I wasn’t so sure about.

Then I think about my cranium and protecting the precious gray matter contained within.  In the flash of an instant, I remember everything I have taught about brain injury.  And I think of the movie, Falling Down.

Then I think about my judo training from when I was a kid.  I can still do this, I thought.  Once you learn how to fall, you never forget.

I think of my friend, Gary, who took me ice skating all three times in my life – the first time, the last time, and the only time.  He told me the only thing I had to do was to make certain to not allow my feet to get higher than my head.  Right after I stepped onto the ice, I was looking up at my feet.  This was not going to be good…

Then I think of the last time I had a big accidental fall.  I was pre-fighting an A-4 in Meridian, MS during the winter of 1983 when my boot hit a patch of ice on the wing and I fell onto the wing. 

From there, I could not stop myself from sliding back and off the wing, at which point I found myself free falling through space after passing off the trailing edge.  The free fall was only momentary, however, as I next connected with the starboard drop tank.

A split-second later, I was again free falling having only banged my head on the very tip of the back end of the drop tank.  Now, I thought, the end was near.  And SLAM!  I hit the ground on the ramp right behind the A-4, immediately pop up after the bounce and look around to confirm no one saw what just happened.

Now as I continued this latest fall, I wonder what the outcome might be.  I already know I could not escape having someone watch this, as my friend and his wife are both witnesses to my clumsy buffoonery. 

As this thought is going through my mind, I make my first contact with the surface.  My left knee and the palm of my left hand connect with the asphalt and I feel the tiny pebbles and rocks grind into my hand.  I continue on, sensing the pain in my knee and then realize my left elbow has touched down. 

I remembered falling like this all the time as a kid.  There was nothing to it; just hit the ground, roll, absorb the shock of the hit with as much of your body as possible and spread the impact over a wider area.  Then get up and keep playing ball, or whatever.  Physics, man!  Nothing but pure physics!

I continue over onto my back and then into a kneeling/sitting position on the ground.  My friend’s wife still thinks I am fooling around.  I wish I were.  This hurts too much to be fooling around.

It is then I realize if this gets back to work, people are going to be laughing their butts off.  It is awful when someone gets hurt, but if it is not serious, you cannot pass up on the humor of the moment.

Heh!  Heh! 

Heh!  Heh!  Heh! 


*Groan…*  It only hurts when I laugh.


© 2010 J. Clark

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3 Responses to Falling Down

  1. flyinggma says:

    Ouch!! I hope you are okay.

    I fell off an office chair while doing paperwork with a customer. I lay laughing on the floor so hard I couldn’t get up. I think they thought I lost my mind. They stood up and looked over the desk to the floor where I was laying and asked “Are you okay?” “Yes, everything is fine except for my wounded pride!”

  2. That’s really funny, Joe! Well told. Someone said to me once that it’s always better to fall with your friends around you than alone in a crowd, because then at least you can laugh with your friends at yourself. I think there’s something to that!

  3. Joe Clark says:

    Thank you both. Boy, I can’t wait ’til this no longer hurts… It’s terrible not being to laugh… or sneeze or cough…

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