Do you remember the pressure in Jr. High (called Middle School now) not to do anything that may bring attention to yourself. You’ll do whatever possible not to be laughed at or embarrassed. I was in the 6th grade, Jr. High was grades 6-8, and I went to Foothill Intermediate School which was a public school of about 1,200 students. The girls were about a foot taller than the boys and everyone seemed to have the same thing on their mind, don’t do anything stupid, just make it thru the day without an incident. My incident came on a day like any other. The school had a ground floor and two levels above that. To get to the upper floors there were only two stairwells at each end of the building. In between classes you only had 5-minutes to get to the next class making the stairways look like a NY subway. I was doing my best to look cool with my hip wide wale cords, thick leather belt, and paisley shirt. I had both my hands shoved down my front pockets and acted like I didn’t care about anything. I began to climb the stairs to the 2nd floor when my world unraveled. I actually stepped on my untied shoestring and fell face-first on the cement stairs as my hands were still in my pockets…nothing to block the fall except my head and shoulder on the stairs. I hit midway up the stairs and slid down about 4-steps with my head bumping on each step like something out of a cartoon. The pain of hitting face first on the cement was only second to the total humiliation of having most of the school see me spaz-out. My friends busted out in laughter and others joined in and those that weren’t laughing were just glad it wasn’t them being laughed at. I finally got up by myself as no one was going to help me and be associated with a nerd. I had blood trickling down from above my eye and felt like I had just been hit by a semi. My head hurt like hell and my shoulder felt like it had been fractured in 5-places, but the pressure was on to get out of this situation as soon as possible. I acted like I was fine, no problem, and even tried to laugh it off while my body was on fire. I even joined my friends in laughing at the situation and acted like all was fine until I could get up the stairs, across the school, down the stairs on the other side of school, and to the nurses office. The nurse put a mega-big bandage on my head and wanted to call my parents which I denied and told her I was fine. Now I had to go back to class with this bandage on my head bringing even more attention to my mishap. I ripped off the bandage when my head stopped bleeding and wondered for the rest of the day if I had done serious damage to my head and shoulder. I learned two things that day; that mom was right about tripping over untied shoestrings, and after falling just get up and act like nothing happened. Fast forward to college – thanks Wayne – and to my junior year at San Diego State. There were about 20 of us having a day party at Mission Beach drinking beers which was legal back then ( drinking beer on the beach, not underage drinking). I was not intoxicated, I think annihilated would be a better term. Three of us decided to take a bike ride on our cruisers, not a smart idea, but hey, I was in college. It was a hot day and the boardwalk was jammed pack. That didn’t stop my friend and I from racing to the jetty zig-zagging between walkers and other bikers. What did stop me was another bike just entering the boardwalk . I hit it straight on and was flipped over my handlebars landing on my back and sliding another 5-feet. There were close to 50 beachgoers who witnessed my horrific accident and everyone knew it was my fault for going too fast…6th grade all over again. So what do I do? Just get up and act like everything was OK. Sure my bike frame was bent and the bike I hit had a tangled front wheel, so I just grabbed my bike and walked away. My back had about 3/4 of the skin scraped off but actually the beer was a great pain-killer. The pain kicked in about 2-hours later when I went into the ocean and the saltwater was like pouring salt into a wound, not figuratively.
I think everyone has taken an embarrassing fall at least once, if not more, in their lives. How do you save face? Laughing it off seems to be a popular solution as we’ve seen on America’s Funniest Videos…and some of those falls had to have hurt bad. Or acting like nothing bad happened and just brush it off while your body is screaming in pain. As you get older people actually show concern for you if you’ve fallen, but for the youth you have to remain cool and collected, no matter the pain. I’ve seen others take falls and will come to their aid if they look over 50, under 50 they have to tough it out. There was one exception in college when we were playing intra-mural softball and an outfielder was giving chase to a long hit ball and looking over his shoulder when he ran straight into a light pole…out cold. We all ran out thinking he might be dead, but he eventually came to and stood up and acted like he was OK. It was a nice recovery and I’m sure his head felt like a lead balloon, but he played it off with coolness. Ski resorts are the best place for watching slips and fall downs…ice loves this game. People go down every minute and ice hurts. Kids under 12 can just cry, scream, wail, and mother bear will be there soon to make everything all right. Teenagers can never show pain as they might be embarrassed. The 20’s crowd is pretty much the same, but even more macho like bring it on , I can handle anything. At 30 you start to actually feel the pain , but still choose to act like it didn’t hurt, then slither away. When you hit 40 you just lay there and try to let the pain subside until you can get up and walk to shelter, maybe even have the brains to seek medical attention. At 50 you don’t care about what others think, your only concern is how much damage is done. While your laying in the exact position that you fell you first make sure you can wiggle your toes, then move your legs, your arms, and finally your neck and head. If everything checks out you just thank God and get up slowly usually with the aid of a concerned on-lookers. After 60 you just stay down and wait for help to arrive. Falling down is embarrassing and hurtful, is it really worth acting like nothing happened? If your in 6th grade the answer is definitely YES.