Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Top Ten Most Spectacular Falls, or I Already Know How I'll Die

You frequently hear of people in their 80s taking a fall, breaking a hip, and never really recovering. I am quite sure I have a higher than average chance of being one of those people. I am not a graceful person, and I never have been.

I distinctly remember the time I was frolicking ahead of my parents on a hiking trail and heard my mom tell my dad, "Whelp, she's never going to be a ballerina." Then there was the time my elementary school PE teacher shouted across the playground, "Falconer! You run like a turkey!" (Yes, he was an ass.) 

I don't even want to know how many top ten Tuesdays I've missed this year, but for some reason, I am compelled to share with you now a top ten list of just the most memorable falls I've taken in my life. 

(Which is an entirely different list from the most memorable falls I've been to. In case you were misled as to what kind of falls I was going to talk about, here's a local favorite.)

10. The fall that prompted this list, being yesterday when I was carrying two armloads of books a student had returned to the office back to my classroom, when my shoe sole snagged on the unnaturally clean hall floor and I --and the books--went flying. At least nobody was there to see my grace in action.

9. Walking upstairs at the doctor's office with my daughter, I stumbled and fell up. Quick catch, didn't spill my coffee, no pain, momentary embarrassment. Except of course for my daughter, who was both HORRIFIED and DELIGHTED and wouldn't shut up about it for the rest of the week.

8. Freshman year in college, a bunch of us were walking to a frat for a party, when I fell on the ice and hurt my wrist. Sending the others on without me, I trudged back to the student health office for some help. The nurse wrapped my wrist, made me a doctor's appointment for the next day, and handed me a bunch of pain killers. "Um, I've been drinking?" I said, "Should I take those, or..?" She snatched them back, and I have always wondered who treats a college student for a fall near midnight on a Friday night AND DOESN'T EVEN ASK IF ALCOHOL WAS INVOLVED. (I will note here than only two of the ten falls on this list are alcohol related at all, and even then, I'm pretty sure it was 10% drinking, 90% being me.)

7. This year on my birthday, 31 years after #5 on this list, my family indulged me by hiking in to a swimming hole along a river. I was waist deep in water and went to lean on a rock, but misjudged how far away it was and/or how strong my arms are, and instead slowly fell face first onto it. My husband and daughter assured me it was very strange to watch as I apparently deliberately smooshed my face into a rock.  I skinned my nose, but was far too happy to be in the water on a warm day to really mind.

6. A dozen years or so ago, my husband and I were four miles from the trailhead when I stumbled over my feet, LIKE I DO. As I sat on the ground catching my breath, I noticed my pinky was dislocated. I held my arm up over my head and bleated at my husband, "Finger! Wrong way! Finger! Wrong Way!" He splinted it into a better position with a sturdy twig, which we both found satisfyingly "wilderness first aid"-ish, and gave me some ibuprofin. We hiked out and drove to the nearest hospital to have it reset. It's still a bit wonky, but it only really bothers me when I'm holding m&ms in that hand and they trickle out of my fist because that pinky won't plug the gap correctly. 

5. The fall I had on my 20th birthday, which happened to coincide with a champagne brunch my dad's climbing club hosted high on the mountain. I was doing a standing glissade on a snowfield on my way down, and didn't stop before the end of the snowfield, so when I hit rocks, I tumbled. I came up grinning, thanks to youth and champagne, but had a scar on my thumb for decades after. 

Brunch on Cooper Spur, Mt. Hood

4. 2007, my last spring in my former school district. I had great kids that year, as was proven when I went to perch on my "teacher stool" in the front of the room, missed, and landed on the floor. I completely expected a roar of laughter, but all I heard was, "Ms Gassaway! Are you okay?" One girl who had just transferred into the class smirked, and her neighbor glared her down. They offered 100% kindness. (The next year, at my current position, my students stole my wallet and defaced my photos of my husband, but that's a whole other story, and in no way indicative of the kids I have now.)

3. Maybe 2015? It was inservice week at my school, and I was trying to find some district level meeting that was being held off-site at 7:30 am. I'd parked in the small downtown area and was searching for the address on foot. The cast and crew of a TV show called The Librarians happened to be in town filming that week, and as I was working my way through a parking lot they were setting up in, my foot caught on the pavement and I went down. Suddenly a dozen young and healthy movie people were gathered around me, full of concern. I felt about 90. They helped me up, I laughed it off, and as I limped away, I heard "Wendy?!?" incredulously from a car going by. My co-workers, also looking for the event, had watched the whole thing. 

2. First grade, 1975. Skipping towards school after disembarking from the bus, I tripped over my own feet and face planted on the cement walk. The principal came running, and I thought I was in trouble. I broke my nose and went to the hospital, where I got to watch cartoons on TV, a complete thrill in my TV-free childhood. I also got a giant nose cast, which was much less of a thrill. 

I just spent twenty minutes looking for a picture I have of me with that cast on, and even though I KNOW I have a digital image of it, I can't find it! So here's a picture of me after a fall that didn't even make the list

1. Labor Day weekend, which to teachers is The Final Weekend, 2017. I stayed up late, and was finally heading up to bed, but remembered I'd left something downstairs. I tried to turn around mid-step, lost my balance, and fell backwards down the bottom three steps, cracking my head against the entryway wall and knocking myself out for a few seconds. I had a concussion, and while the ringing in my ears I've had ever since is certainly annoying, the 15 minutes or so of mental confusion while realizing I was mentally confused were terrifying. 

If you made it this far, reward yourself with this beautiful song, "Falling Slowly." I don't seem to be able to embed video in my blog this month; sorry.


  1. Oh my goodness....this made me chuckle as I get started on my day. I am far from graceful myself, but I think you take the crown on this one :)

  2. Haha, you’ve definitely fallen more than me. I think I’ve only hurt myself 3 times from falls. Last year I slipped on ice while running and turned my knee purple. I hurt my shoulder twice from falling. Once I slipped while shoveling. Another time I tripped over the dog while carrying groceries. None of them ended with hospital visits.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  3. You poor dear! Glad you survived them all. You have a really good memory. I could not possibly remember all my falls (I am not well coordinated). I remember a good one from college. I was walking to my sorority house on a nice spring day, and all the guys on Frat Row were on their porches. I hated wearing my glasses, which I was holding, when I tripped on the cracked sidewalk. I fell, ripped my tights, scraped both my hands, and broke my glasses. I did get a round of applause though. Stay safe!

  4. Oh my, you really are prone to falling! I love that you can write so well about it and that you don't let it stop you from taking more adventures. Such a good attitude!

  5. Oh my goodness!! This is quite a list of falls---with some real injuries attached. I'm afraid my falls haven't been quite so dramatic (though I've had plenty). The one that WAS traumatic was when my oldest was a baby. I was walking across the family room with her in my arms, stepped squarely on a plastic toy and fell spectacularly.

    I know you think that those Mom Instincts kicked in and I protected my child with my life, but alas, no. Instead I flailed and pitched her right into the edge of the toy box. She ended up with a black eye. I felt like the worst mom in the universe (but she was fine, so we also all had a good laugh at my expense).

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction


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