Wednesday, September 12, 2007


I fell last night.

In my head I was thinking it would only be a matter of time before I slid on the hardwood floors. I've even tried to be more cognizant of the threat and have kept on my shoes until the end of the day, the very end when I actually get into bed. I've tried to slow down around the corners and have resolved to myself that it's okay if I don't answer the phone while it's ringing. It's better to return a call promptly than to return it later because I was busy with ice packs after I hurried and fell.

This comes from a knowledgable, not-so-graceful past. I fell so many times at home that Mom and Dad quit coming to check on me when I fell. Even Sister would holler from the other side of the house, "You okay?" Yeah. Just thought I'd take a close look at how well we've been dusting. Don't worry, I'm fine. Just a bruised ego.

One of my best falls happened while I was at Ft Knox one summer at basic camp. The Army really liked to punish the entire platoon for one individual's mistakes. (I'm not sure how that teaches teamwork or leadership, but it sure did a lot for my push-up percentage.) Anyway, if one person was late for any formation, the rest of the platoon would "half turn to the left" and start doing push-ups. The DS would yell, "Down!" We'd go to the ground and yell, "Hurry the hell up!" The DS would yell, "Up!" We'd push and yell, "We're waiting on you!" So the poor person inside would hear us yelling, know we were doing push-ups because they were tardy, and then later we'd sit in the friendship circle and sing Kumbaya while we talked about our feelings.

Well, one night we were dismissed early, and a bunch of us took advantage of the opportunity to take a long shower. A long communal shower, mind you, but a long shower all the same. In the middle of my shower people start screaming because the DSes called a formation. I was soapy sudsy, drenching wet, and I wrapped up in a towel, grabbed my shower caddy, and ran back to the barracks. My second greatest fear was for the platoon to have to do push-ups because I was late to a formation. I ran in wet flip-flops on a tile floor, slipped, fell spread-eagle and watched my contents of my caddy slide under a dozen bunk beds. The man I feared most (Drill Sergent Goodnite) appeared out of nowhere and jerked me up by my arm, asking me if I was okay. "Please don't make them do push-ups because I'm late!", was my answer. I could have had compound fractures, busted my head open, and knocked out teeth, but my answer was, "If you want me to do push-ups, I will, but please don't make everybody do them." He asked again if I was okay, surprised at my answer. He instructed me to hurry safely and put my clothes on before I joined formation. I did in about two minutes, relieved only that I wasn't being told, "Hurry the hell up -- we're waiting on you!"*

Last night I was being so careful. I was walking slowly. I was watching where I was going. I was even still wearing my shoes.

I fell. The Hater ran immediately to my aid. To his credit, he checked on my to see if I was okay before laughing at me. And he helped me up, too. He even bragged on me for trying to be safe and still having my shoes on. And although I carried on last night, I don't even have a little bruise to show for my agile exploits.

And the moral of this story? Sometimes you can do all the right things and crap still happens.

* One of the last days of basic camp I was sitting outside shining my boots on the steps. DS Goodnite came up behind me to brag on my method. Dad had taught me to set the polish on fire for a few seconds before putting it out and spreading it on the boots to get a smooth shine. DS Goodnite said that's how he shined his shoes and wondered where I had learned that trick. It was drizzling outside and we talked like real people, not like a peon terrorized by a hard-core DS. We talked about Vietnam and home. And after we had been talking for a little while he stopped and looked at me, saying, "Are you sure you were in my platoon?" I kept polishing, "Yes, DS Goodnite. I'm in 4th squad." He shook his head, "I just don't remember you." I smiled, "No offense, DS Goodnite, but I've worked really hard to keep it that way." He smiled and nodded before going back inside.

And the moral of the post script? If you happen to be an idiot in front of people, try to do it in a way where they won't remember it was you.


Mommavia said...

Okay, how is it that I have known you for almost a year and you being in the Army never has come up? Usually as soon as people learn of my connection to the military they tell me all about how so-and-so's brother or my dad was in the military. I am impressed!

Glad you are alright after your fall. I found that Pledge Grab-Its or a Swiffer is nice to have handy with pet hair and dust on the hardwood floors.

Arielle said...

At least you fell gracefully so as not to kill yourself. I take advantage of slick hardwood floors by sock skating around the house. That's the only time its fun to fall.

Molly Jane said...

That's it, I'm sending you some of those socks with the little rubber dots on the bottom. And I thought I was the clutzy one. That story from basic is priceless. So priceless, infact, that it induced tears. Love ya girl!

bill said...

I learned to shine them that way, too. Actually, I learned two ways -- your actual 'spin shine', and the 'flaming polish/buff like hell' method. I've seen, but did not use, that second way used with the famed 'get a spare set of shoes, douse the inside with lighter fluid, flame them till they're hard as a rock, then polish and put on display' practice, which I didn't believe until I saw someone do it.