Thursday, August 03, 2017

Go Boom

That's what you do when you fall down. You go boom. It used to happen a lot to my son when he was little. He spent most of his toddler years trying to catch up to his enormous cranium. As a result, he was constantly tipping this way and that. I will probably never know if his wandering into the occasional gravity storm was anything out of the ordinary for kids of his age, size, deportment, etc. Any kind of inquiries at the time might have led to more questions on the part of social services, wanting to know how this kid could keep bouncing off of things after a little ice and a kiss on his boo-boo.
It probably has a lot to do with the fact that his father spent a good deal of time falling down for the amusement of others. Sometime in junior high, while watching the Dick Van Dyke Show, that tumbling over a hassock wasn't such an impossible feat. It was just an elongated forward roll, and if you managed a nick or a bruise on the way down or up, it was more than made up for by the shock and awe of your audience. By the time I reached high school, and Chevy Chase had made a legend for himself by tripping and falling over most everything imaginable, I elevated my game by tossing my feet over my head and landing on my back without any particular reason or setup. Often, it simply broke the tension.
The number of times that I did this kind of awful acrobatics along with the regular use of the "I opened the door into my face" bit eventually wore out the concern button on my friends and family. Consequently, when I jumped out of a swing and tore four ligaments in my knee and tried to get up to walk it off and my leg folded up under me like a bad card table, all my friends could do was laugh at my zany antics.
Was it worth it? Well, still more years in the future after I had my knee surgically repaired, I was asked if I had any "special talents" that might win me a free pair of Levis. I told the hosts of this particular promotion that I could recreate the opening of the Dick Van Dyke show. Curious, they asked for a demonstration.
I won the jeans.
Then my son was born, and after a while, he began to appreciate the potential of flinging himself about. So much so that at one school gathering he introduced himself by telling anyone who would listen, "Hi. My name is Donald and I fall down a lot."
So very, very proud.
Then, pushing forward a decade or more later, I am out running, as is my custom. I fail to negotiate a crack in the sidewalk and fall face first to the concrete. Scraped hands and a skinned knee. About a week after that, I encountered another vortex with nearly the same result. No laughs.
Then it occurs to me: Dick Van Dyke didn't always fall over that hassock.
Time to reassert my mastery over gravity.

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