Greetings from the Ridge.
A friend called this week asking about a column I once penned on how to fall on the ice. I told her that I had no knowledge of writing such a thing, but she swore that I had, so I assumed I’d lost my memory due to a fall on the ice. The lady wanted to reprint it in her church bulletin, and although I had no idea what splatting on your tail had to do with the evangelism I did a quick computer search for “falling,” “ice,” and “busted butt,” coming up with a big, bruised nothing.
But since she was intent on getting this needed bit of wintertime information I sent her what I observed in the various slick parking lots and driveways of a Midwest winter.
THE HANG AND GRIP. This method of ice falling is only of use when there’s something nearby like a car, a door or a spouse. When your feet begin to slip from under you, you grab for the nearest thing available even if you married him. The H&G is actually more reliable if it’s not another person. A Honda is sturdier than a husband when your feet head toward the loading dock at Wal-Mart, but if the car is not available, the coot will have to do. Of course this method will never make you any new friends. Your partner is most likely intent on somehow getting off the ice alive and the added weight of your bulk suddenly attached to his arm most often results in the DS, the Double Splat. A final reminder if you choose to use the Hang and Grip method when falling on the ice: this will leave no one to help you up.
THE ALIBI. When your feet betray you on a slick surface and you end up bumper-down on the ice, well meaning souls will hurry to you from all directions and they will always ask the same question: “Are you alright?” Try to stifle your ire. It should be obvious that you are not “all right.” It’s not like you had planned sort of landing and secondly, at that point you have no idea what you’ve broken. This is the time to put the alibi into practice. Shouting “Tsunami!” has little credence when you’re a thousand miles from the ocean, but you might try, “You mean you didn’t feel the earthquake?” When I once landed facedown on our church steps I looked at Herb and said, “He pushed me.” I wasn’t actually in the church yet and into the no-lie zone, so I allowed as how this small stretching of the truth might be allowed.
The Alibi method can also be expanded to the ORL, or OUTRIGHT LIE. “It’s my old war injury flaring up again,” works if you’re in a pinch, or “Two new hips and I can’t get either one of them to work,” will often garner you a bit of sympathy. However, the outright lie can be taken a step too far. If you blurt out, “Martians! Didn’t you see them?” or “It was the Rapture and only the chosen fell down!” will cause people to walk the other direction instead of helping you up.
THE FLIP AND SEARCH. I’ve never used this method but have seen it in action. You land nose-up on the slick sidewalk then immediately flip onto your back and murmur, “Lost my keys…lost my keys.” The fact that you didn’t drive that day might lower your credibility a bit, but it’s often enough to convince the casual observer.
THE ARTISTIC APPROACH. Flailing your hands and arms in sweeping arcs and explaining to the curious that you are a performance artist experimenting with various types of “snow angels,” is pretty lame, but if you can manage to get a slightly crazed look on your face and speak with a slightly European accent you might get by in some larger cities.
THE RICHARD SIMMONS SPLAT is just eccentric enough to work on some occasions. As soon as you hit the ice begin doing calisthenics with a vigorous shout of “One! Two! One Two! Come on, ladies! Shake those buns!” Of course if a stray passerby flops onto the ice beside you with the intention of joining in, you’re on your own. You’d better come up with more moves very quickly.
Sadly, the only method of saving what vanity you have left after a spill on the ice is to swallow your pride, hope to God that your skirt didn’t fly up, find your purse and crawl back to your feet. But of course where’s the fun in that? I say that if you crash, make it a moment to remember.
You ever in Coonridge, stop by. We may not answer the door but you'll enjoy the trip.