Things happen to me. My family says that I happen to things.
My childhood was one disaster after another. I fell so often, my third grade teacher told me I should just glue pillows to my knees and get it over with. I fell on playgrounds, off swing sets, off slides, and down holes. Running across a field was like dodging mines for me; there were always gopher holes where I ran, and when I fell in them, ow! More band-aids on my knees. I was the only kid in sixth grade that fell during the standing broad jump—before I jumped.
In seventh grade, I was so skinny and frail that when I was tandem on the trampoline with the largest girl in junior high, her downward momentum flung me into the lights that hung over the gym ceiling. My head was impaled each time she did a drop seat, and when she did a half twist, I was history. Ow.
In eighth grade, I developed intestinal flu at my grandpa’s funeral. I cramped so bad I thought I would die. I asked my parents to put me out of my misery. They gave me water and advised that I walk slower as we mourners paraded behind the casket up the steep, rock-laden old road to the cemetery. Ow.
In college, things only got worse. The first week of school I woke up in the middle of the night in excruciating pain. My left ankle hurt so bad, I thought I might bawl. As I lay there, sniffing, my roomie, who slept on the lower bunk, asked tentatively, “Jane?”
“Are you okay?”
“Why? Did I do something?”
Muffled giggles from below. “Yes. You fell off your bed and then climbed right back up there.”
“Don’t you remember?”
“No. I must have been sleepwalking.”
More giggles. “Off the top bunk?” She burst out laughing.
I hobbled around on that sprained ankle for weeks. It was swollen twice its size and was an ugly purple color. When I fell in a gopher hole during field hockey practice, my left ankle went in first. Ow.
Three weeks after the ankle healed, I slipped into a manhole while shopping downtown. The lid was loose. My left foot and ankle were swallowed first, followed by my leg up to my knee. My shin bone was laid bare from knee to ankle. Blood oozed and ran into my shoe. My friends, barely able to contain their howls of laughter, helped me out of the manhole. I straightened my clothes and squeaked, “Ow.”
In the cafeteria, a meatball got stuck on the fork while the worker was trying to serve it to the guy in line ahead of me. After a vigorous shake, it shot off the end of the utensil and smacked me right between the eyes. Like Goliath under the power of David’s sling, I was slain in one fell swoop, Cycloptic wound pulsing red. Ow.
I was happy to say goodbye to my college years, but calamity came with me into adulthood. My first apartment was three flights up. On the second night there, I tripped on a rug at the top of the stairs, somersaulted two flights to the landing, slid, and rolled a flight down to the floor. Ow.
After I got married, the disasters didn’t stop. While roller-blading in the driveway with my five-year old, I hit a bump. It was a gravel the size of a pea. Down I went, my knees twisting as I fell. My right ankle snapped like a twig. Ow.
I finally got through middle adulthood and entered menopause years. Yeah. Imagine.
I was at the funeral of my reclusive uncle, who asked to be buried on top of a mountain. On the way up, riding in the backseat of my cousin’s SUV, I felt familiar cramps begin to assault my tummy. Oh no.
I made it halfway through the graveside service when I suddenly knew I had to find a bathroom—now! I glanced around. Nothing.
At the top of the hill, I spied a stand of thickly spaced pines. I inched my way up and prepared to take care of the problem. But the hill was steep, and pine needles are slippery. Just as I started to squat, I lost my balance. I rolled through the mourners, into the grave hole, and landed, bare-bottomed, onto the top of my uncle’s casket. Ow.
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