Monday, January 30, 2012


I had my car inspected last week, and by the time my mechanic was through finding everything it needed, my bill looked like an inventory list from “Auto Parts R Us.”

Even worse, I had no car for three days while he was working on it, so I had to rely on my husband to chauffeur me around in his van. I won’t drive his van, not only because it’s too big for me to handle, but also because I have too much respect for mailboxes and pedestrians to plow them down.

As usual, my husband had to wait for me to get ready when I asked him to take me to the bank and post office.

“Are you almost ready?” he shouted at me through the bathroom door.

When I told him I’d be only a couple minutes longer, he added, “I’ll be out in the van, then, waiting.”

What usually happens in the winter when he waits for me in the van is he’ll sit in the garage until he is about to succumb to hypothermia, then he’ll start up the van, back it out of the garage and turn on the heater. He told me he doesn’t dare run the van in the garage, even with the garage doors open, because by the time I come out, he’ll be dead from carbon-monoxide poisoning.

When I finally emerged from the house 20 minutes later, I walked out to the driveway and reached for the door handle on the van. The next thing I knew, I was lying on my side on the ground.

A patch of ice had caught me completely off guard. My feet had slid out sideways from underneath me with such speed, I hadn’t even had time to brace myself for the fall.

My husband, still sitting in the driver’s seat, had no idea I was on the ground. He finally rolled down the window on the passenger’s side.

“Are you there?” he shouted. “Where’d you go?”

“I’m here...on the ground!” I shouted back.

“What’re you doing down there?”

“Oh, I just decided to take a quick nap!” I said mostly to myself. When there was no response, I added, “I slipped on the ice.”

“Are you OK?”

“I don’t know yet!”

“What can I do?” he asked, his voice sounding panicky. “I don’t have my cane. I hadn’t planned on getting out of the van today, especially on ice! If I tried, I’d slip and fall, too! And I left my cell phone on the counter!”

So basically I was on my own. In our old neighborhood, I’d have had three or four neighbors rushing out to help me the minute I fell. But out here in the middle of the woods with no one around, my only hope was to wait for a passing deer and grab onto it.

That TV commercial with the elderly lady lying on her kitchen floor and shouting for help, only to have to lie there for a month-and-a-half before her neighbor finally finds her, came to mind. I had visions of my husband sitting in the van, afraid to move it because he might run over me, and afraid to get out because he might fall, staying right where he was until we both turned into giant Popsicles.

After a minute or so, I finally gathered my courage and tried to move, fully expecting to feel intense pain somewhere. I cautiously tested one body part at a time to see if it worked. To my relief, everything seemed to be working just fine. And miraculously, nothing hurt. I figured all of my extra body fat must have cushioned my fall. In fact, I was surprised I hadn’t bounced a few times when I first hit the ground.

I managed to get to my hands and knees, and then up onto my knees. I reached up and grabbed the door handle, pulled myself up and brushed off my snow-covered pant legs. When I finally opened the van door, my husband’s eyes made a quick sweep over me, as if he expected to see jagged bones sticking out through my clothes.

“I’m fine,” I said as I prepared to climb into the van. “I guess having a layer of winter fat has its advantages.”

“Brush the back of your coat!” he said. “It’s full of snow! You’re going to ruin my upholstery!”

I wondered if there had been a bone sticking out of me if he’d have worried about that ruining his upholstery, too.

The rest of the day, until I went to bed that night, I kept expecting to feel a stabbing pain pop up somewhere – a delayed reaction to my flop on the ice. When nothing happened, I convinced myself I probably wouldn’t be able to get out of bed in the morning because every muscle in my body would stiffen up as I slept.

The next morning, when there still were no aches, I checked my body for what I expected would be an array of giant black-and-blue marks. I had visions of my skin looking like a dark purple version of a giraffe’s hide

I found only one bruise, on the side of my calf. It was about the diameter of a pencil eraser.

“How are you doing?” my husband asked when I came out to the kitchen.

“My leg is bruised,” I said. “I think I’m just going to take it easy today. Will you feed the dogs and then let them out?”

“Sure,” he said. “You just relax and take care of yourself, OK?”

That’ll teach him to worry about his upholstery.

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