Ice, ice, baby

I had a bad feeling about walking home on that road. It was nearing 11pm, and I wanted to stop at the only open restaurant I knew where I could grab something light to eat at that late hour. I worried only of never having traveled down that way so late, but decided to chance it on the strength of faith alone. In hindsight, I should have seen it coming.

Sidewalk or SLidewalk?
Sidewalk or SLidewalk? - Photo: Illustration Purposes Only

The transaction in the restaurant was pleasant, and went off without a hitch. And so I set out on my way home over a hillock, a hump, really. Yet, unbeknown to me it was covered in a thin layer of ice just over the crest; thin, but enough to cause a calamity. I didn’t see it in the dark.

The funny thing about falling when you’re an adult is you can feel the center of gravity shift out of your control with a certain sense of dread. When I was a child I could do cartwheels, and climb trees then precariously balance on the slimmest of branches — it was all exhilarating. Now when I fall, I wonder: “How much this is going to cost?”  First there is the skating, the feeling that a foot is starting to move in a way you can’t control. Normally when this happens you rely on the other more solidly placed leg to compensate — like all-wheel-drive, but in this case it is all-feet-walk. It is in that pivotal moment that the suddenness of this predicament is realized. The other foot has NO traction: I’m going down!

There are many ways to go down, the worst of which is probably to sprawl forward with your upper-body leading the way, this is the bad way to fall, the way of falling that almost guarantees that an ambulance will be required to help you up.

The best way to fall, and I hope this is not a rationalization, is to shoot your feet out ahead of you so you land on the only part of your body uniquely cushioned to absorb such a shock. This is the way I fell, with my messenger-style bag slung over my shoulder and luckily breaking my fall.

And then, the most humiliating part of any fall is what happens immediately afterward — the drift. This is the short distance that your entire body floats on the ice as if to remind you that you are nothing, and can be dropped and pushed around by a fucking  patch of ice only a quarter of an inch thick. It’s as if when you’ve fallen, and you land on the ground asking yourself “Did I really just fall?;” the drift is there to jeer you “Yeah man, ya did!”

The good news is nothing broke! No blood, and no permanent damage!

Many people mistakenly believe that in America we sue for every bad thing that happens, but this is not true. If I had fallen and couldn’t rise, or had the sense upon rising that something really serious was wrong, then I would have dialed 9-1-1 and sat there till it came; both so I could receive medical attention as soon as possible and to preserve the ability to take future legal action against the responsible party. (Side Note: If someone slips and falls on snow/ice on the sidewalk outside your house, they can sue you — the property owner!) The last thing on my mind was a lawsuit, the first and really only question was: Am I ok?

Luckily I was, mostly. The human body is a wonderful piece of equipment and within seconds of falling I could tell that the impact of it was absorbed by my right hand which had instinctively reached back to help break the fall. Within a minute of standing up I was testing its range of motion, which seemed fine. But it wasn’t, the elbow would later swell slightly.

These are the perils of what I call Jesus Weather in America, I derive that name from the fact that you open your front door, feel the cold and mutter “Jeeesus!” to yourself; then you lave the house walking on water, and ice, as it were. These of the perils of New York winter, where people walk around happy that it’s 45 degrees Farenheit.

The other good news is that like that the quintessentially Jamaican spirit of resilient shone through. It provided an opportunity to focus more on the direction for the blog and other activities in the upcoming year. And provided me with a reminder that I take too many things for granted.

It is not until I couldn’t fully use my right hand, which was sprained, that I realized how much the left hand relies on the right. How do you soap up your left hand in the shower; or lotion the left hand after?

Most importantly, how would you type a 2,000 word blog post with a right hand that isn’t 100%?

A legal question did arise for me though based off this injury. When a married person is injured, their spouse is sometimes able to sue on the basis of a legal claim called loss of services. In a liberal society like the U.S. why should an unmarried person be incapable of suing for the loss of their own services? And more importantly, they had lawsuits like that, wouldn’t it be great to sit in the courtroom and listen to the line-of-questioning and the testimony? Better yet, can you imagine the advocacy website devoted to the cause of securing the right to sue for unmarried people in this circumstance. Like I said, I wasn’t blogging, I had a lot of time to think on my hands — no pun intended.

I’m back!


12 thoughts on “Ice, ice, baby

  1. welcome back DD! you were missed. and i love this post, quite a departure from your usual but really good. i can relate to it completely. i’ve started falling down (three times last year) and it is the most destabilizing feeling you can imagine.

    the last big fall was on the streets of Hong Kong believe it or not, on my way back from China late last year. i was walking around gawking, craning my head up at the tall buildings and not looking where i was going. suddenly i found myself in free fall arms and legs flailing–i had missed a step i hadn’t seen!

    i decided to just sit on the pavement till someone helped me up which took surprisingly long. there were lots of people around and they just gawped. finally an older Chinese lady and two men came up and extended their hands.

    it occurred to me how treacherous the fall could have been. what if i had broken a limb and been unable to catch my flight back later that day? what if i needed hospitalization. i didn’t know anyone there. y’know? SCARYYYYY. anyway very glad you only suffered a sprained wrist and are back.

    that photo of the icy sidewalk gives me the shivers–

  2. D – glad you are ok. Your post brought back some ugly memories. Unless it has happened to you, there is no way to really describe the feeling of falling on ice. The worst part for me was the getting up, or the desperate and interminable search for traction on a sidewalk that used to be concrete but where every solid inch is now covered with a thin, beautifully crystalline clear sheet of ice. Yeah – freezing rain. An ain’t nobody can help you with that one. Annie, I have heard that about China ie. the ridiculous penchant to baldly stare at anything remotely different from the ordinary. When I was a child, I would get very angry at other children who laughed at people when they fell. I always thought it was just mean, but really, I was also thinking, that will happen to me one day, and I won’t like it when people laugh, so I won’t do the same thing. When I fall – far too often in my view – I trip over my own feet it seems – I just get up, examine myself, dust off and keep on going. Can’t bother to be embarassed; just glad that I didn’t break or injure anything.

  3. Diatribalist, welcome back!! The physics of falling is something, eh!?

    Question!! Where do nations — such as Jamaica — go to die!? Bwoy, things nuh look good fi JAMDOWN with this global financial and economic meltdown/recession/possibly depression. Jamaicans better start get real CREATIVE to survive this economic tsunami.Our CREATIVE capabilities are going to be definitely required to transcend the coming economic onslaught./deluge.

  4. Diatribalist, if the woman in question is a contortionist, one is of the perspective that she would or may be able to perform the act of bleaching such a body part.Nuff respect!!

  5. @ Esteban: I suppose a contortionist would be able to see her own anus to determine if it should be bleached. Question is: would she expect compliments from male company after the treatment. I have a hard enough time keeping track of womens’ hair style changes & wardrobe additions and complimenting those — am I to now notice when ani have been bleached?

    How awkward a compliment would that be to give anyway. “Darling, are you doing something different with your anus, it’s so toned of late.” =)

    ROTFLMAO — kiss mi mumma! This is really too much — vanity has gone too far. I submit to you that any woman contorting herself to examine her anus out of vanity should consider spending more time on spiritual introspection. Really!

  6. @ Annie: I would hate to be hospitalized in a non-English speaking country. I think that communication between patient and doctor is always key. Glad someone came to your aid. In NYC there have been people who helped other people up after a fall or in the aftermath of a car accident only to be sued because an injury was made worse by the intercession. I’d call the ambulance for someone in a heartbeat but think twice before helping them up. Just the world I live in.

    @ Longbench: Based on the fact that you were in Chi-town on election night I would count you in that rare breed of Jamaicans who has a high tolerance for cold. Landed in Chicago once during November and my eyes watered so much from the cold that it seemed as if I was crying. I wanted to at any rate! It did cowl yu see.

  7. Welcome back sir, I can see you’re back on form. Good job you were walking and not driving. I have had my share of horror skidding on black ice a couple years ago. The worst was the feeling of powerlessness in the middle of the skid, almost as if everything was happening in slow motion as I waited for the thud.

    At least I didn’t hit the tree.

  8. @ Esteban: That was Seinfeld’s imagination.

    The truth is I-and-I don’t know I neighbors’ last names — and if you read regularly here you already know more about me than they do.

    Meanwhile I still reach out to neighbors from yard and stay on top of who had a baby and who got married.

  9. but why do you think people are bleaching their own orifices? there are usually people who are paid to do things like this, horrors! i mean women have their private parts waxed for G’s sake. can you imagine the pain? and all to titillate the male gaze!

    but this does beat all…next thing they’ll be bleaching their aureoles (area around nipples)! ouchhhh!

  10. I’m a Jam Maican in New York — Long Island, to be precise and I feel yuh. Best description of the small nuances we face here. The first time I fell on ice was in Chicago and the funniest thing came to my Jamaican mind was “if yuh slip, yuh slide”. LOL. Good blog brotha

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