You don’t really notice gravity all that much until something goes just a little sideways and it takes you right down, like it did me the other night. Could have been worse. I didn’t go straight to the center of the earth, because the sidewalk stopped my face. The scariest part for my friend Margo, who, being the one who was right beside me, is pretty much on the hook for not grabbing me out of mid-air, was the sound: a mighty crack, like God snapping his fingers. Margo, being a recovering Catholic, is trained to react to God snapping his fingers, and she began to freak out right away. “Stay right there,” she yelled, “right there in that 34-degree puddle on the pavement, in the wind and rain. Don’t get up.” I started thinking.
What was that mighty crack? Oh. Face hitting pavement.
Man, that was fast. That didn’t take any time at all. Of course it doesn’t take any time, you idiot. You’re, like, three feet tall. And isn’t that exactly what old ladies say when they fall down? Yes it is. “Oh, my word, dearie, it all just happened so fast! I didn’t have time to think. And now my hip is broken, and soon I will die.”
What the hell happened to my airbags? Didn’t I used to have airbags? Shit. I should have had them recharged after they deflated a few years ago.
I think I hit my cheekbone. Cheekbone! I have cheekbones! Awesome.
Well, I’d better get up, because we’re late for our dinner reservation, and it’s a serious dinner reservation. Margo was spinning in place making noises about throwing a coat over me and fetching Dave, and I had to head her off. “You’d better not get Dave,” I told her. “You’ll be in deep shit. Because he put me in your custody, and he totally would have caught me.” He might have. His reflexes are miraculous. He’s faster’n the smacky-sound on a spank.
Margo and I were trying out a restaurant that was hard to get into. Especially her, because she’s tall. The restaurant is in a converted broom closet. They’ve got room for five tables, with butter pats for spacers. The sixth table was lubed up and jammed in hard by the toilet in the rear. The kitchen is in the front. You walk right through it, burners on the right, prep area on the left, with about a foot to spare, when you walk in. The wait staff has to wear satin pants to cut down on the friction. They’ll try for two seatings a night, and they don’t have room for error. So if you do score a reservation, they want your credit card up front and an option on one of your kidneys. If you don’t give them 24 hours notice for a cancellation, the chef is going to Mexico on your dime.
I explained all this to Margo, who was not letting me up off the sidewalk. “I’m fine,” I said. “We need to go eat before I lose a kidney. Come on. Do I sound at all loopy?” Well, that’s not really a fair question. Margo did a quick comparison to how I usually sound, and decided I might be as good as I get.
|America's Fun Couple|
We walked into the restaurant and I pointed at my face and said I'd just hit the sidewalk with it, and could I use the bathroom? They were nice as pie. They funneled me to the back, and gave me swabbing alcohol, a washcloth, and Neosporin. Once I was cleaned up and down to a steady ooze, they parked us at table six, next to the toilet, away from everyone else, and gave me a napkin filled with ice. I pressed it to one corner of my mouth and slid my dinner into the other corner. Bleu Cheese Pear Hazelnut Blood Salad, Risotto Parmesan Nettles With Blood, and Plasma Panna Cotta. It was very good; maybe a little over-reliant on the one ingredient. By the end of the meal, my napkin looked like laundry day used to look like for me once a month. When the check came, a very, very, very long set of tongs emerged from somewhere behind us and snatched the napkin away.
The next morning, my knee was exploring new directions in life, and my upper lip was sprawling over my lower lip like a stranded oyster. No matter how you cut it, it has to be noted that this has not been a good winter for my face. First I poisoned it until it started sliding off my head like magma, and now this. But my face is not my fortune. If I actually did fall on my fortune, it would have hurt a lot worse, because it’s thin. Most of it is in a collection of fine salamander art that has not appreciated in the marketplace as anticipated. But still. I don’t ask much of my face. It’s there mainly to give folks an idea if I’m coming or going, and to keep the head goo inside. Either way, it’s falling down on the job.