Last Wednesday I took a tumble on an oak floor. Call it a freak accident. I had never fallen on my face before. What began as a goose egg over my left eye evolved into a swollen purple eyelid and splotch toward my nose and cheekbone.
Then vanity set in: How to conceal the growing bruise (difficult), how to explain (equally difficult) and whether to become a hermit or face the world. After all, I can’t see the raccoon eye without a mirror.
In the big scheme of things, I should be thankful that I wasn’t injured badly, and I am thankful. I have no broken bones, no memory loss, no paralysis.
Still, there’s nothing funnier than somebody falling, is there? I laugh. You probably do too. We laugh unless the joke’s on us, and then we feel ridiculous and embarrassed. We want to press the rewind button and skip this next chapter.
I remember my fall as lingering seconds in slow motion. I lost my balance, pitched forward, the slick hardwood floor coming closer and closer.
But falls are no laughing matter. According to the Center for Disease Control, falls account for more than 25,000 deaths each year in the U.S. and most of the 250,000 hip fractures.
My lopsided “eye shadow” will work its way through blue, green and yellow as my face presents a story that others are itching to hear.
Some onlookers will joke to pull it out of me. You were drunk, weren’t you? Who beat you up? Ha ha!
It may be simpler to begin the conversation with a half apology. “Look, I had an accident….”
In time the bruise around my eye will fade, but what if it was a permanent scar or birthmark or a skin disorder that couldn’t be treated? On a scale of one to 10, my raccoon eye doesn’t register.
So over the course of the next week or so I will walk in shoes that are uncomfortable. And I will learn to empathize a bit more. In the end, I can let my shiner take center stage and stay home or I can go about my business and let “it” be someone else’s problem.
I vote for the latter.
Photo credit: Wikipedia