Monday, January 5, 2009

If an Idiot Slips in the Parking Lot ...

and no one is there to see her fall, is it still hilarious? Answer: Yes. Yes, it is. I've managed to make a fool of myself a couple times recently, and here's what's surprising. I'm actually super disappointed that nobody was there to witness it.

The first time was just before Christmas, when I cut through the parking lot of the nursing home across the street on my way to the bus. I usually step over a large snowbank and into the lot, then stomp the snow off my boots and continue on. Now, I don't know if I was in too much of a hurry, or if I failed to anticipate the steadily increasing size of the snowbank, or if the bag of coats I was donating threw me off. But somewhere between the stepping and the stomping I lost my balance. And I fell. But it wasn't a clean fall.

I took several stumbling jumps, staggering around as if I could somehow conquer gravity and regain control, fully realizing that it was already too late to recover. I finally resigned myself to the fact that I was 175 lbs. of disaster in an inevitable downward spiral, wheeled around and crashed to the pavement, skidding a fair distance before grinding to a cold, hard halt. And the worst thing was that afterward, all I really wanted to do was lie there and groan, but I had to get up and catch my bus.

I bruised my hip and cut my finger, but in the end nothing was really injured but my pride. Oddly, one of my first thoughts upon landing wasn't "I hope nobody saw that." Instead, it was "Did anybody SEE that?!" Because it was spectacular. I immediately got the giggles as I limped away, thinking of how awesome it would be to have video of it. I take comfort in the fact that several elderly people in wheelchairs may have been peering out their windows, witnessing evidence that they are not the only ones who periodically take a spill.

The second foolish thing happened just last week, when I was shopping. I was on a quest to find some new lotion and, as we all do, popped open the cap on one of the bottles to smell it. Because let's face it, if it smells like medicine or decaying roses, you're never going to slather it on. I couldn't quite get a whiff, so I decided to give the bottle a little squeeze.

SPLAT! It exploded right in my face. I had lotion everywhere. I mean on my coat, in my hair, dripping off my nose. Of course I looked around to see who had the privilege of viewing this grand spectacle, since I was standing near the pharmacy and was sure I would draw some stares . . . no one. So I was left to fish a kleenex out of my pocket and swab myself down, goofy and all alone.

What I'm lamenting is this: If I'm going to do something super embarrassing, it seems a shame to waste it on myself. There should be at least one other person there who can relate the tale to their family over dinner or tuck that memory away for a rainy, unamusing day. Otherwise, it's just me, taking a quick, silent bow in celebration of my own stupidity. Which is okay, too, I guess.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

No Shame

Well, here it is a new year, and I reapply myself with more determination to actually keeping this blog updated regularly. First topic of 2009? The fact that there are very few situations in this world in which a person should have no shame. By that I mean they shouldn't care what other people think about them. I will name two.

First: How you look when it's 25 below outside. I was online earlier this weekend ordering some new (warmer) boots and gloves, and I found myself trying to mentally coordinate them with my other articles of winter clothing. After several unsuccessful minutes, I finally realized that nothing I have matches. It was all purchased out of necessity, at different times in different years, and together amounts to a mishmash of down, knit, fleece, and Goretex that can be combined in an infinite number of ways for maximum comfort but minimum fashion.

Why is it that the warmest coats are never quite the most stylish? Do I need to look like a walrus just to keep my core temp above 90? And why do the best scarves and earmuffs and facemasks make us all look like frosty criminals? I will guarantee you that I run across at least one person each day who's bundled up like the unibomber . . . but who cares!! When you're standing outside stamping your feet, bouncing up and down, occasionally dancing and swearing up a storm just to avoid losing any toes, you don't care about others judging you. You just want to survive. You should have no shame.

[As a sidenote, in the interest of full disclosure, I also have no shame in moving very quickly from building to building if I must venture outside in cold weather. I go nowhere slowly when it drops below freezing. I'm not kidding, I would leave my grandmother in the dust if it meant getting inside a few seconds faster.]

Second: Last week, I was about 30 feet from my bus stop when the bus, earlier than usual, blew right by me. Without thinking, I took off sprinting after it for another full block (to no avail) and yelling "Hey! Hey! Hey!" I do this inadvertently, the yelling. I know the driver can't hear me, but I want the universe to know that I filed a protest. Here's the thing, though -- when I run for the bus, I RUN FOR THE BUS. I mean full-out, crazy-person, arm-flailing, track and field running. And from experience, I know that watching someone do this from inside the bus is one of the funniest things in the world.

But what's even funnier is watching someone who needs to run but doesn't want anyone to know they're in a hurry. They sort of hop-shuffle along, like, "What? Late? Not me! No, this is my normal, everyday, extremely frenzied walk, and I'll thank you to look away now while I dive toward a moving vehicle." When they do finally step on, sweating and wheezing slightly, they try to pretend it was all part of the plan. Wake up, shower, dress, jog in dress shoes, go to work.

I once watched a woman sprint four blocks to catch our bus at the next stop, and when she got on I noticed she was wearing heels. I almost started clapping. Seriously, I think we should, as a society, start applauding people who accomplish stuff like this. And not a sarcastic Brubaker effort, but sincere, appreciative applause. Because not only did they work their ass off to get their day back on track, but they didn't care that you shook with silent laughter as they did it. And that's nothing to be ashamed of.