November 12, 2009 in Washington Voices

Winter might just worsen fall season

By Correspondent

I made a painful discovery on Spokane’s mean streets a couple of weeks ago. You might say it just hit me: Falling down hurts a lot more at 44 than it does at 4.

Now, I’ve been walking and talking, sometimes even while chewing gum, for quite a few years. I don’t mean to boast, but it’s a skill I’ve worked hard to develop, and I’m pretty darn good at it. Yet, as my editor and I left a downtown coffee shop, I suddenly found myself facedown in the middle of the street.

After hearing about my accident, a journalist friend shook his head and said, “Well. That’s one way to trim the newspaper budget.” But I think I would have noticed a hard shove.

All I know is one minute I was walking and talking and the next I was flying. Kind of. My takeoff was good, but my landing needs a bit of work.

When I described what happened, a young friend exclaimed, “Oh, not the run-fall!” Apparently, the run-fall, as opposed to the stumble-fall, slip-fall or windmill-arms-almost-fall, is the most embarrassing kind of public tumble. Who knew?

In the few seconds it took for me to launch myself from sidewalk to street I had time for one thought: I hope I don’t spill my coffee. It was good coffee.

Alas, my coffee and I both splattered on Cedar Street. As I scrambled to my feet, I could hear my mother’s voice echoing inside my head. “Pride goes before a fall, dear.” I hadn’t realized it until that moment, but I was very proud of my ability to simultaneously walk and converse. Mom is always right.

My editor rushed forward, horrified. “Are you all right? You hit hard! You need ice!”

Actually, I felt OK at the time, just a bit shaken. “Am I bleeding?” I asked. But aside from a sore knee and a rapidly swelling cheekbone, the only blood appeared to be a few spots on my lips. Which were also rapidly swelling. Asphalt works even more quickly than Botox, but the application is probably more painful.

“I’m OK,” I said. “I’ve got an appointment.” And off I tottered to my car. After checking the damage in my rearview mirror, I decided to heed my editor’s advice to get some ice. I canceled my meeting and drove home.

Then the fun really started. Apparently, I was wearing the ladies version of Toughskin jeans, because my pants had nary a nick. My knee however, was a bloody, bruised mess. While that hurt, examining my face in the mirror was far more excruciating.

My new Angelina Jolie lips sported scuff marks around the edges and the swelling along my cheekbone was growing more colorful by the minute.

After swallowing several ibuprofen tablets, I applied ice everywhere I could and lay down. I felt like a fresh salmon packed for shipping. I then called everyone I knew to report my misfortune, but it’s hard to talk with a bag of ice on your mouth. Frustrated and bored, I decided to get back up. That’s when I discovered I hurt all over. I wondered if I’d been hit by a truck while prone on the pavement.

When my husband and kids got home I received appropriate amounts of sympathy and even a kiss from one of my teenagers, which almost made the fall worth it – almost. In the following days, my facial swelling receded, but my shiner sported an ever-changing rainbow of colors.

I grew used to pitying glances in the supermarket and snarky cage-fighting comments from friends. One quipped, “Well, no one can say you’re just another pretty face.” Interestingly, my husband managed to avoid appearing in public with me for an entire week.

So, now I’m mostly healed and have resumed walking and talking at the same time. I’m not yet brave enough to chew gum, but that will come.

Meanwhile, readers might want to say a prayer that I’ll stay properly balanced as snow-and-ice season approaches. I don’t want to have to chronicle another mishap. After all, columns like this can give journalism a black eye.

Contact Cindy Hval at Her previous columns are available online at columnists.

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