Falling over is not funny. Actually it is hilarious. One minute you are operating in the troposphere at about head height and upright. The next minute you’ve disappeared from everyone’s eye-view, your bum greets on-lookers and you have shot-put your head into the turf.
Alternatively, you have been gracious enough to keep your face upright as your derriere plumbs subterranean depths like a rubberised double meteorite shattering civilizations of ants.
The really funny thing is that the fallen one doesn’t concern themselves about compound fractures, fatal bleeding or shredded threads – the foremost concern of the fallen one is – “who saw it?” The fallen one has unwittingly sacrificed themselves as a source of entertainment and mirth.
So I fell. Not quite sure how it happened; trying to find my keys in the bottomless pit that is my handbag while negotiating uneven ground and juggling oranges and eggs maybe. It was Friday, I could have been frantically and blindly racing in the opposite direction of work. My feet could have been celebrating that by doing their own thing. I was pretty certain that I wasn’t controlling them.
A fall happens in slow motion. You are catapulted into the air thinking “this is new.” Your surroundings blur like nebula. For moments you float like Dave in 2001: A Space Odyssey, pondering the calamity that is about to unfold. And then gravity finally and uncompromisingly smashes you into terra firma – and when the ground is firmer; the more terror.
I was lucky. I fell in front of a parked four wheel drive. Normally, vexed by these expansive vehicles that make parking near them impossible, I actually rejoiced in its bulk as it hid my undignified departure from the vertical.
Well almost. One lady called from behind the car “Are you alright?” The answer is always “yes,” said with an insouciant joie de vivre. “Ha ha ha, I do this every day.” “No broken bones?” she inquired while suppressing a snicker, I assume, as I wasn’t actually facing her with my face, if you know what I mean. I sprung up like a jack-in-the-box. If my leg had broken into three separate parts, I still would have boinged up like Skippy.
There could also have been some youths loitering in front of the supermarket and indulging in what youths do; wait for someone to fall over and chortle.
Any way who cares? I’m in good company. Helen Mirren has come to grief a couple of times, once in Cannes and another time at the Berlin International Film Festival. She plopped down like a collapsing soufflé amidst her ruffles and flounces. (Although I can’t be sure that her graceful slips compare to my ungainly spill.)
Former Presidents and Prime Ministers have ’come a cropper’ on more than one occasion. Former US President Gerald Ford decided he would try some human aerobatics as he took a nose dive on the last few steps of Air Force One, landing on the Austrian tarmac minutes after the plane did.
Former Prime Minister John Howard took on the footpath to sharpen himself up before an interview in the west a few years ago. And who could forget Julia Gillard submerge her noble nose into the Subcontinent due to some dodgy kicks. “I’m alright, I’m alright,” she chirped as she popped up like a spring lamb.
The thing is that you always remember a fall, either yours or someone else’s. It effects you physically and mentally. You realise that you can be reduced to a damned fool in the blink of an eye. Self control deserts you and what little authority you had has gone down the gurgler.
I remember assaulting the asphalt as a grade oner, having a little crybaby cry and then congratulated myself on producing the copious amounts of blood.
I remember the time when I took Jack for a twilight stroll. After a few close calls as he hurtled towards me from thirty metres, aiming to corral me like I was a headstrong Hereford heifer, he finally slammed into my side. My knees buckled and before you could say “bon appetite,” I got a gobful of grass.
Misstep memories happen to anyone at any time. My daughter and I were exiting a cafeteria one fine day via a set of steps. An elderly woman and her daughter were coming up the said steps. Unfortunately the older lady unaccountably careered off the side and into the bushes. The woman’s daughter and I raced to help the misdirected lady, who thankfully was quite jovial (embarrassed, mortified) and unhurt (probably sustained a broken hip.) My dear daughter’s response, was a very human response. She laughed.
We probably started falling over about six million years ago, making the other hominims guffaw into their hirsute hands. A thigh bone found in Kenya indicates that it was about then that our forebears began to stand upright as well as have the ability to climb. (presumably they plummeted out of trees too.) Standing enabled them to pick fruit from higher branches (although if you can climb?) It also meant that they could free their arms to carry things such as tools and mobile stones. By standing up, the hominims looked more imposing. (Except when they were falling down.) About two million years ago they had just about nailed it as their anatomy gave them the ability to run long distances in the open spaces, tripping as they raced.
Jack never trips over and you rarely see other animals that stand, like apes or bears go ‘a over head.’ It seems that humans provide that rare form of theatre.
The other day I saw an article about a Kenyan professional marathoner who was running in the woods in Maine. He encountered two black bears. He dashed away from those bears like a comet. He didn’t fall, but imagine if he had. Those two black bears would have had a field day. Gees they would have laughed.