Thursday, July 15, 2010



I mustn’t have fallen much, as a kid.

Or, I overfell, to the extent overfalling is possible, and got fed up with, or maybe frightened of, or just considered myself more or less done with falling as an activity worth pursuing.

I mean from, say, the age of 12 to…well… only recently. I’ve returned to the study. I’ve become something of a reluctantly insistant faller.

I guess I should have paid closer attention to some of the intricacies of falling, because now, it’s coming up—the subject of falling down—again, and again, and so is the humiliation attendant to it, and the risk, and the debates, all of which you stand an excellent chance of losing when you are arguing from the perspective of being on the floor.

Maybe I was humiliated a lot, as a kid.

Nah. I think of all people, I would remember that.

As I contemplate falling, which I usually do in the endlessly embarrassing time between the second I realize I have lost the ability to grab, seize, or reach a rescuer, and am thus destined to create a scene, at least, and, hurt myself at worst; and the moment of brain-rattling inevitable impact, I am forced to review my actions. None of the reviews are good, because the results are the same. By the time my head hits the pavement—and one of them actually rattles—I am struggling with self-hatred, self-doubt, and an illogical crisis of faith.

I think falling down would be easier (a) if you were alone, as long as you avoided breaking or cutting anything; (b) if you were in the company of total strangers, who luckily had the kindness of passersby who would help you up and then be on their way; (c) or, I suppose, with a member of your immediate family, as long as he or she is not the person who warned you that if you were to do this or that, “…you likely would fall down; then, who would have to risk bodily injury struggling to help you up? I’ll tell you who [no, please, no…]. Me.”

I talked Susan into going out to dinner one recent Sunday evening. I can’t remember what argument I used—any one of them might have succeeded, I’ll never know—but it was a summer Sunday, when you still can find a parking spot and a table anywhere in Huntington (though, not near each other).

We had made it through back-to-back weekend weddings of sons—her fourth child; my fourth child—without the slightest complications (thanks to the four recently-wed people), and I, the magnificently unemployed, was suggesting celebrating our good fortune by doing what we used to do all the time, going out to dinner.

Susan was tired. She had been to the beach, which somehow makes you desperately fatigued. She was on call from 11pm until 7 am, when her regular Monday would start (from 7 am until 3 pm, and so I bit my tongue), but she said, “Yes.”

We aimed for Riley’s, but Riley’s was under renovation, so we aimed next door, Besito’s. Susan helped me out of the car (about which I talk to my right leg all the time: “You know, you could at least try…”), and over the curb (“…now, I know you can do this. You do it at Push-me-pull-you [my name for Gold Coast Physical Therapy, a name I cannot remember when I need to] all the time, on those fiberglass steps.).

Susan asked me to, “Stay there until I park the car and walk back.”

She was probably a bit more emphatic than that.

I don’t know if I agreed. I might have appeared to, but Besito’s has a number of tables
outside, with people seated at them in such a comfortable, even romantic way, they couldn’t possibly want to have a man with a four-poster cane standing near them for more than three, maybe four minutes. I thought, anyway.

I lasted two minutes, before I made for the restaurant door. I figured if I got inside, and better yet, secured a table, even sat down, Susan would be uplifted, pleased beyond measure, even proud of me.

Amazing how being an invalid warps you, makes you think you can make your date proud of you.

The fall began while I was busy working on the fantasy. I didn’t even know, yet. I was busy. I had to release my grip on the cane in order to open the door. As the door opened, I had to step back to allow it to open further, making my hand and my cane just shy of grasping distance.

So, I commenced falling. Of course, once you start falling, you cannot stop. There isn’t time to explain your situation or make any excuses for it. All those romantic people you were sparing are now going to pay more attention to you than less, and you are going to be embarrassed. You might as well use this time to get used to it.

Whack. Rattlerattlerattle.

Two men lifted me up, following a brief discussion interrupted by my insistence they get on with it. I said I didn’t want my girl to see me like this. All the people but me seemed to think about how I felt; I said I’d feel a hundred times worse if Susan found out. One very nice lady said, “Aren’t you Ed Lowe?” Thinking maybe they would work faster, I said, “Yes.”

Talk about mixed emotions.

They got me up, these fine people, and then, two Suffolk police officers showed up out of nowhere. “The police?” I thought. This was maybe three minutes from the moment I decided to open the door. “She’s going to freak.”

I insisted I was fine. The police offered assistance. Worse, they were genuinely concerned. I declined, thanking them, thinking, “Please, disappear, please.” The manager graciously showed me to a table. I hurriedly sat. I ordered a fake beer. I did something with the cane.

Susan came, smiling. Big smile. Big, wonderful smile. Happy. Oh, God.

I couldn’t stand the tension. I told her.


“Want to split a…uh…you know…uh…that..”


“Yeah, that’s it. Guacamole.”

“That’s going to distract me, make me forget…?”

“Yes, guacamole. I’ll have to remember…”

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