Tell me you haven’t done this yourself.

It’s the middle of the night and you get up to take on — or take off — a little water. Why bother with the light? You know where things are. Somebody says, “Where ya goin’, honey?” You mutter something close to “uhhhh, nuuhhh, I’ll be back,” and off you go, one hand on the wall of the hallway, your bare feet shuffling along the wood floor. Turn the corner, and pick your way across the living room. You’re halfway to the kitchen and WHAM, you’ve just made an unsuccessful attempt to split the uprights with a hassock, which must have come equipped with legs that were forged with Sheffield steel.

Oh Sweet Whatever! My toes are gone. Gone! Somebody find a 9mm Glock and use it! I’ll never walk again! Am I bleeding? Am I NOT bleeding? Then it’s a few words alluding to unholy fornication.

Next question: Should I sit down before the momentum knocks me down? Did I yell? Did she hear me? Did she even wake up? (you know the answer to that one) Can I walk?

*

The roles were reversed on the day when Kris took her shot at the record books. I simply watched and asked with customary brilliance, “Are you O.K.?” and brighter still, “Does it hurt?” In return there was a “look” — which I certainly deserved — and which doubtless had something to do with my eating the hassock. But I did offer some assistance as I smothered an urge to laugh, and helped Kris to the couch as she checked for damage.

There was some good news…well, not “good,” but at least decent: no pools of blood on the floor. And she could breathe. After a brief assessment, she decided that she had not broken anything, surmised, I guess, in that she could still walk, albeit with a bit of a lurch. Therapy went pretty much in the direction of mundane afternoon television and attention to the other set of nails.

And what did I do? Why I sent her off to work the very next day, of course.

Hey! Wait a minute! She insisted on going. I’m betting that short of not driving her to the office myself, she would have called a cab.

By that time, Kris had decided that the blow was not fatal and that she could manage to get back and forth with little difficulty. And so it went, with “shoes off” the preferred status. As the days continued, friends and colleagues suggested any number of diagnoses and remedies, all outside the medical profession. Two weeks later I talked her into seeing my very own podiatrist for a review of the situation. X-rays revealed a small crack in the toe next to the end guy on her right foot — the very one that discovered the hassock in such dramatic fashion.

*

Lessons learned? Oh, I guess there’s some value in having a glass of water on the bedstand…so you can spill it into the lamp, perhaps. Better yet, it’s not completely out of the question to ask another to get the water. Then too, there may be something to be said for clenching ones teeth for who knows how long. Selling the hassock sounded a bit extreme.

For sure, stifle the compulsion to laugh, along with critiques on style, hang-time, possible damage to the furniture, and comparative remarks in the order of, “You think that hurts, you should have hit it like I did last week,” and “Your brother is gonna howl when he hears about this one!” Alluding to clumsiness will certainly get you nothing but resentment forever.

We decided that it was probably not a good idea to kick furniture in the first place.

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