ENID, Okla. —
We take a great deal for granted.
We expect one day to fade seamlessly into the next, with few blips or disruptions.
We plan, we plot, we scheme, and put our faith in our outline for our lives.
And then life does a complete 360, dropping us on our heads and tossing our well-formed plans into the dumper.
So there I was, minding my own business, when it happened to me.
It was Thanksgiving and we were enjoying the day at our nephew’s house in Kansas.
Turkey, taters, dressing, gravy, green bean casserole, deviled eggs, salad, veggies, rolls, all had been greedily consumed.
And dessert had just been polished off, a little of this, a little of that, you know how it is.
So there we sat on a magnificent fall afternoon, basking in the somnolent glow of a tryptophan overdose, eyelids fighting gravity as we caught up on the family news.
Suddenly I was summoned to go and retrieve my camera to take a photo of all the great-great nieces and nephews.
No one else, it seemed, had brought a camera. So I dutifully hauled myself out of my seat and set out for the car.
I was most of the way there when things went terribly wrong.
One second I was strolling down the walk, enjoying the unseasonably warm sunshine on my face, and the next I was lying on my face on that selfsame sidewalk.
I had unwittingly proven Newton’s first law, that an object at rest stays at rest, and a body in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.
I turned out to be the unbalanced force, or, expressed in the form of a formula, F=matdp, where “F” represents force, “m” is the object’s mass and “a” represents acceleration. And what about “tdp?” Turkey, dressing and pie, of course.
So there I was, lying on my kisser on the pavement, the warm sun beating on my back, thanking the fates that I was alone and trying to come up with a sexier explanation for why I was all scraped up than the simple fact I am clumsy.
I thought about claiming I had been set upon by neighborhood thugs, but there was nary a thug in sight in the upscale neighborhood populated by doctors, dentists and business executives.
I could say I had been attacked by wolves, but there are darn few wolf packs in southern Kansas. It was too warm to assert that I had slipped on the ice.
Ultimately I accepted the fact I was simply going to have to tell them I tripped, and uttered a silent prayer of thanks that no one had seen my clumsiness.
That’s when the screaming started.
“Jeff’s down, Jeff’s down.” The loud, urgent voice was that of the lady of the house.
Unbidden, Howard Cosell’s long-ago call of the Joe Frazier-George Foreman bout in Jamaica, “Down goes Frazier, down goes Frazier,” ran through my brain.
Oh, great, I thought, I’d better get up. But I couldn’t. Then I suddenly realized my left arm hurt, really hurt. I heard the front door open and the sound of feet pounding toward me. I tried again to get up. I tried to push myself up, bad idea.
Various family members finally reached me and pulled me upright. They retrieved my cell phone, brushed me off and expressed their concern. I tried to deflect all the attention, walking to the car, opening the trunk and retrieving the camera. Then I marched back to the house, only to find two or three other cameras snapping away as the children fidgeted on the couch.
I was having trouble holding anything with my left hand, but I didn’t let anyone know that as I pulled the camera from the case, focused on the kids and snapped away. Most of my body weight, supplemented by all that turkey and trimmings, had landed on my left arm.
Then I collapsed into a chair. They kept asking me if I needed anything, needed to go to the hospital, needed a painkiller, and the like. “I’m fine,” was all I kept saying, though I knew I wasn’t.
“I want you to go to the emergency room,” said my bride. I declined, but said she would undoubtedly hound me about it.
“I’m not going to say anything else,” she said, and she didn’t, but she gave me that look, glaring at me with a laser focus that threatened to burn a hole clear through me.
She finally wore me down, so our nephew drove us to the hospital, where we spent much of the afternoon waiting to find out the arm was not broken, just badly sprained.
Now, less than a week later, my arm still hurts like fire, I can’t dress myself one-handed and going to the bathroom is, shall we say, challenging.
So instead of putting up my Christmas lights over the weekend, I sat in the house moaning, grousing and generally making my bride’s life hell.
I now have a deeper appreciation for my left arm, and vow to never take it for granted again. I have learned humility (not being able to tuck in your own shirt does that to you). Oh, and I hope to have my Christmas lights up by Easter.
But at least I made a lasting Thanksgiving memory for those sweet great nieces and nephews. Years from now they will regale their own kids about the time clumsy old uncle What’s His Name tripped and wound up on his giblets.
Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.