I pride myself on my balance.  I regularly say that I've only fallen [enter low number here] times in my life.  If you don't count playing recreational sports, this is true.  I think it's because I find falling embarrassing.  It is!  All of your swagger and coolness deteriorates before you hit the ground.  They haven't yet created a smooth way to get up from a fall.  You can either lay there like you're hurt (if you're not), try to get up quickly (risking a second fall which drops your swag to nearly unrecoverable levels) or laugh at yourself.  I look at it as a loss.  Falling down is failure.

Obviously it's not really failure.  It's a fact of life.  Gravity is fighting us for our entire existence on this planet.  And gravity is undefeated.  Nobody beats gravity.  Not even me!  Well, technically even when I'm standing upright, gravity is holding me down, but you get what I mean.  My cool needs to prevail.  Because of this, I try and keep my falling risk to a minimum.  If it's slippery outside, I take short, choppy steps.  I find gravel or dirt.  Traction is my friend.  I hold handrails whenever they are available.  I REFUSE to fall.  Nowadays I only run if I have to.  Or if I am playing some type of sports.

Maybe it's because I find people falling down to be funny.  Hilarious in some cases.  Naturally, I want the person to be okay.  But when I find out they're okay I'm busting my guts laughing at/with them.  I stand out here in that respect.  Swedes don't really laugh at people when they fall.  They shout an all-encompassing:

       - OY!

Then again, "OY!" is for more than just falling.  It's for happiness, sadness, sneezes, coughing attacks and my favorite, opening a champagne bottle.  Try it.  Open a champagne bottle around some Swedes and I guarantee you at least 80% of the group will shout:

       - OY!

It doesn't matter if they knew you were opening the bottle.  I've seen a group of Swedes intently watch as the bottle was being opened and when the cork came out, you guessed it, it made a popping sound.  Everybody shouted:

       - OY!

It's like the first time every time.  Gotta love Swedes.  But they don't get the humor in someone losing the battle with gravity and uprightness.  I get it.  And no one is off limits.  For instance, my mom was visiting this Spring.  I showed her something from the balcony.  We live on the top floor (like BAWSES) and Mom is not that comfortable with heights.  She wanted to come back inside pretty quickly.  I turned and led the way back in.  I stepped up the step and entered the apartment.  Mom forgot about the step up and was tripped by it.  Then the fall.  These things happen in slow motion.  For me, at least.  I think my brain slows it down, records it and saves it in a file that is regularly refreshed.  It's like it was yesterday.  Her arms went flailing.  She let out a yell.  She slid along the wall and grabbed at the radiator.  The radiator said, "Hell naw!" and dodged her so all she had was Jasper's doggy bed.  She put her right arm down on the edge of the doggy bed, causing it to slide.  Then she slid slowly to the floor.  Oddly, the entire time it was like she was looking at me to see if I was laughing at her!

AND I WAS!  It was hilarious!  This middle-aged woman whom I love with all my heart was kind enough to give me that memory.  Her falling INTO my apartment in slow motion.  Thanks Mom!  I did check to see if she was alright between laughs and she was.  I still hear that muffled "Oooh!" sound she made on the way down.  Yes I'm laughing as I type.  If you think I'm a jerk, well I'm comfortable with that.

But the jerk has had his falls as well.  I remember them vividly.  Probably because it's not often.  I don't know what I'd prefer;  innocent falls that happen once a month, or terrible, swagger deflating plunges to the earth every five years.  I haven't had the former, but I'm a victim of the latter.

EXCLUSIVE: Only two people in the world know about this.  Swedie and my good friend and former boss Andrew.  I was minding my own damn business and doing my job as a dock manager back in 2009.  Part of my job was to set up the trailers (full of packages) so that they could be unloaded.  It was winter and it was cold outside, so I kept my trips to a minimum.  Get out there, drop the legs, pull the switcher (truck) up and attach it to the trailer and put the trailer on the door so the packages can get unloaded.  Simple tasks.  I go out there and get attacked by some black ice (not easily visible to the naked eye).  Next thing I know, my body is horizontal.  There was no handrail to save me now.  I came to terms with it quickly.  They taught us how to fall when I was stationed in Alaska.  Just go with it.  Don't land on points (elbows, wrists, etc).  Let your back/butt absorb it all.  I extended my arms and legs out like a giant "X" and landed hard on a sheet of ice.  What's the first thing I did?  Look around!  Make sure no one saw it.  I don't want to be laughed at!  It was probably about 5am.  Still dark out.  I made it...

Swedie was visiting me back in 2005.  It was her first trip to the US.  We were deep into the googly-eyed phase.  Neither of us could do any wrong.  I knew she liked to laugh.  I love making people laugh.  Especially this Swedish girl that's into me.  Hell yeah!  We took a shower together.  Why?  Because back then taking a shower together was so fun and exciting.  Now?  It's me standing in the back of the tub, freezing wondering why I signed up for this shit.  After that shower, I put a towel on and headed out of the bathroom.  She was coming out of the shower when I decided to do a silly dance and then run to the bedroom and pose on the bed like the stud that I am.  So I did my dance.  She laughed (of course).  Then I turned to run and suddenly I could see the top of my feet.  They were at eye level and going higher.  How?  I was FALLING!  Noooo!  Not in front of her.  My towel didn't want anything to do with me anymore, so it abandoned me.  I landed on my back.  Naked and ashamed.  I looked back and the Swede was laughing at me.  But not the same laugh from before.  This laugh was a "look at this fool".  Just my luck...

Three days ago I made a joke pretending I was going insane.  My impression of going insane was me walking around making grunting noises and doing silly things.  I would spin a globe, adjust a flower pot, move the toaster all while running around like a neanderthal.  I know.  Comic genius.  Swedie was laughing hysterically.  Of course I kept doing it.  She asked herself aloud,

       - Why am I even laughing at this?

It didn't matter.  It was fun making her laugh.  It carried on into the next day.  I ran around again like a crazy man right before she was leaving the apartment.  She was just about to start laughing when I slid on the rug.  Who put that there?  That wasn't in the script!  I slid across the hallway toward the wall.  I frantically tried to keep my balance.  My forearm hit the corner of the wall and that hurt badly.  But I had more to worry about.  I didn't want to fall.  My feet had been taken hostage by the rug though.  I was a goner.  I reached out my left hand for the other wall, but I think someone came in here recently and expanded our hallway just for this moment.  My hand missed everything.  All I could do was look at the ground rush toward my face as I landed on my chest.  Swedie was yelling "Oy!" and laughing at the same time.  It was like she was both me AND her.  I was too embarrassed.  Legs wrapped in a rug.  Ego shattered.  Forearm sore.  All I could do was shake my head and smile.  Gravity wins again.  Until next time...


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