I Fall Down and I Get Up Again
This fall involves an overly-friendly pit bull puppy and a stuffed
I was walking behind the condos on my way down to the creek,
carrying a gift for Katie. Katie, her baby sister, Izzie, and
her parents, Scott and Tina, were waiting at the picnic table
there to join us for a take-out supper. My path took me past a
neighbor's 6 month old puppy who looks a lot like the dog that
was in "The Little Rascals" movies.
He was on a heavy leash and chained to a post on the grass adjacent
to a small patio. I bent down to pet him and suddenly he was whipping
around me in happy circles. The leash wound tightly round my ankles
- once, twice, three times - and I knew I was going down.
Falls, I've discovered, often seem to happen in slow-motion.
You sense the loss of balance, try desperately to stay upright,
and may or may not have a split-second to decide how and where
to land. I know that I eyed the grass to make sure that I wouldn't
be falling on concrete, and mentally tried to avoid whatever dog
poop I figured must be down there.
In that sense, it was a successful descent. I went down on my
tail bone and over on my side. Once I was sure that nothing was
broken, I became aware that I must look like a roped calf. At
least I was still holding onto the stuffed pony purse. In that
moment the puppy decided that the pony was for him and tried to
take it out of my hands.
That was the scene - me hog-tied at the ankles, lying on the
grass and wrestling with a pit bull. Extremely embarrassed, I
let out a little cry for "help!" At the same moment,
Tina rushed up from the table, and the patio door slid open. The
woman who owned the dog quickly unwrapped the leash and asked
me repeatedly if I was OK. Yeah, I was OK, except for my pride.
I was certain that the entire side of the condo had witnessed
that ridiculous incident.
I continued walking down to the creek with Tina, who I'm sure
I heard suppressing giggles. I handed the stuffed animal to Katie
and apologized for the bit of slobber on the pony's nose.
So today I'm a bit sore but otherwise unscathed. However, there
are the memories.
Had this happened when I was younger I probably would have thought
it hysterical. I remember watching with fascination at the leash
wrapping around my feet and realizing what was coming next and
that I couldn't stop it. I hit the ground and wrestled my gift
out of the dog's mouth and emerged victorious.
But all I could think about was how silly I must have looked.
When does that end? When do you stop wondering what other people
Maybe we have an "image" of ourselves that is incompatible
with falling down and being unable to get up. Maybe it feels too
much like that TV commercial where the elderly woman announces
that "I've fallen and I can't get up". I know that I'm
not ready for a First Alert alarm yet but that's what that helplessness
must feel like.
And that's really what that scene was about. I felt helpless
and looked helpless and that doesn't sit well with my self-image.
Oh, I can laugh at myself in other humorous situations but that
moment felt like a dramatically unwelcome vision into a potential
The good news is that I'm OK and that I'm always OK, if I choose
to look at it that way. There's no question that we're all aging,
and usually I don't think about it. There may come a day, sooner
or later, when I won't be so lucky if I find myself hog-tied and
headed for the ground, so I'll try to avoid that particular set
But now I'm watching Katie soar on the rope swing that Scott
hung from the big tree. Her face is luminous and her excitement
tangible. That life energy is what I identify with. That's who
I am - regardless of what other people are seeing.