I like to think I’m aging gracefully; not fighting the aging process with nips, tucks, or other artificial means; letting life etch my face and sculpt my body; and accepting that I’m not a kid.
And then I try to leap over a half-wall and fall on my ass.
Last night after a writer’s meeting I went out to dinner with friends. There were empty chairs at the near end of the table, but a woman who had just sold her novel (Susan Boyer!) was sitting at the far end in a corner and I wanted all the details so I could live vicariously through someone who had achieved what I’ve been trying to do for years. Which meant squeezing between the row of people already seated at the table and the half wall at their backs. As I made it to my chair, I realized I was not going to get through dinner (after a two-plus hour meeting) without, ahem, visiting the facilities.
Run the gauntlet again? No, I would simply go over the half-wall to the walkway that led to the restrooms.
The wall was about butt-high, so I sat on it and threw my legs over, expecting my feet to meet floor on the other side. But the other side was a ramp and suddenly I was airborne. Briefly.
You know that moment when life slows down and you have time to think, Oh, man, this is going to be bad? Yeah, that.
When I finally hit bottom my feet didn’t stick the landing. I kept on going and ended up on my butt, my side smacking against the opposite half-wall. Loudly. For a few seconds I just sat there wondering if I’d injured anything important. Besides my pride. My friends gasped, “Are you okay?” I reassured them that I was fine, dragged myself up off the floor and continued on to the bathroom, thanking God I hadn’t peed myself in the melee.
I've discovered there are some differences between Yankees and Southerners, at least between the Yankees and Southerners I know. My best friends (yes, Dee Ann and Marilyn, I mean you) back in Michigan would laugh until they cried, pretend they didn’t know me, and mock me until we all got so old we forgot it happened. They would trot out the story every time we got together, exaggerate it until it was unrecognizable, and wring every inch of fun out of it.
But I live in South Carolina now, and Southern people are exceedingly polite in the face of a person's public mortification. When I got back to the table no one even mentioned it. I’m not sure which is worse, being publicly teased, or thinking the others are meeting in the parking lot afterward asking, “Was she drunk or what?”
Aging gracefully? Maybe not.