I recently fell at work. I was at a lunch business meeting in the cafeteria. There was a lull in the conversation so I got up to throw my food away. I opened the trash lid and realized that my foot was too asleep to support me, my ankle twisted around and I went down, spilling tomato soup on my skirt and drawing gasps from the crowd. I heard the women we were meeting with at the table cry “Oh my God!” and I heard my boss say “J—, what happened??” The next thing I know he’s helping me up and the women are around me asking if I’m hurt. Of course I hadn’t broken anything but twisted ankles don’t feel very good so I couldn’t walk in my heels the rest of the week. The owner of the cafe came over with a bag of ice so enormous all I could squeak was “That seems like overkill.” So as I was sitting there collecting my thoughts, I recalled what it was like to fall in public when I was in school. Oddly enough, not a single person in the cafe had laughed, even though they had definitely been riveted to the event. My ankle had given out in exactly the same way 15 years before on the way to a science class, and an entire schoolyard laughed like no tomorrow. I reacted just as one should back then, I laughed too. And I got up, and went to class, I pretended it didn’t hurt, and I went to a corner and cried. Some girl, I don’t remember who now, asked me what was wrong; I told her I had fallen in front of everyone and she completely understood. She completely understood because humiliation is precisely what anyone would have expected to ensue, and just a few weeks ago, I fell again and no one laughed at all. I don’t know if that’s more remarkable, or if it’s more remarkable that I might not have cared much if they did. That’s what growing up does for you I guess.


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