If an Idiot Slips in the Parking Lot . . . / by Courtney Mehlhaff

and no one is there to see her fall, is it still hilarious? Answer: Yes. Yes, it is. I've managed to make a fool of myself a couple times recently, and here's what's surprising. I'm actually super disappointed that nobody was there to witness it.

The first time was just before Christmas, when I cut through the parking lot of the nursing home across the street on my way to the bus. I usually step over a large snowbank and into the lot, then stomp the snow off my boots and continue on. Now, I don't know if I was in too much of a hurry, or if I failed to anticipate the steadily increasing size of the snowbank, or if the bag of coats I was donating threw me off. But somewhere between the stepping and the stomping I lost my balance. And I fell. But it wasn't a clean fall.

I took several stumbling jumps, staggering around as if I could somehow conquer gravity and regain control, fully realizing that it was already too late to recover. I finally resigned myself to the fact that I was 175 lbs. of disaster in an inevitable downward spiral, wheeled around and crashed to the pavement, skidding a fair distance before grinding to a cold, hard halt. And the worst thing was that afterward, all I really wanted to do was lie there and groan, but I had to get up and catch my bus.

I bruised my hip and cut my finger, but in the end nothing was really injured but my pride. Oddly, one of my first thoughts upon landing wasn't "I hope nobody saw that." Instead, it was "Did anybody SEE that?!" Because it was spectacular. I immediately got the giggles as I limped away, thinking of how awesome it would be to have video of it. I take comfort in the fact that several elderly people in wheelchairs may have been peering out their windows, witnessing evidence that they are not the only ones who periodically take a spill.

The second foolish thing happened just last week, when I was shopping. I was on a quest to find some new lotion and, as we all do, popped open the cap on one of the bottles to smell it. Because let's face it, if it smells like medicine or decaying roses, you're never going to slather it on. I couldn't quite get a whiff, so I decided to give the bottle a little squeeze.

SPLAT! It exploded right in my face. I had lotion everywhere. I mean on my coat, in my hair, dripping off my nose. Of course I looked around to see who had the privilege of viewing this grand spectacle, since I was standing near the pharmacy and was sure I would draw some stares . . . no one. So I was left to fish a kleenex out of my pocket and swab myself down, goofy and all alone.

What I'm lamenting is this: If I'm going to do something super embarrassing, it seems a shame to waste it on myself. There should be at least one other person there who can relate the tale to their family over dinner or tuck that memory away for a rainy, unamusing day. Otherwise, it's just me, taking a quick, silent bow in celebration of my own stupidity. Which is okay, too, I guess.