Sunday, August 06, 2006

It's not nice.

I've tripped and fallen in numerous ways, but it's never as gloriously comical when it happens to you. Also, I tend to hurt myself a lot. So I'll tell the funniest story of falling I've ever seen.

I was visiting John Wells in North Carolina. John is a fantastic musician, like an idiot-savant of the guitar, except he's not really an idiot. He had recently moved to Asheville to start a family, and since there's not really much to do in the town, hip as it is, we were somewhere outside of Asheville at a community music festival.

The bands were finishing, they were bad and bluesy. The stage was on a school soccer field, large, grassy. The beer was gone. Cigarettes were being smoked. The scene is set.

Enter a small girl, no older that 8. She is wearing a white flower print cotton dress, sandals, pretty blonde hair. She is holding a leash that is connected to a very large black labradour, nearly her height. They are playing. The leash is of the extend-o variety, essentially a hand-held clothesline that retracts automatically, and extends out to fifty feet or so to give the dog decent rein while letting the owner control just how long they want the leash to be.

The dog and the girl were both running at top speed. My memory gets fuzzy as to what the dog was after. Or, for that matter, what the girl was after. What did happen was that at some point in time their paths diverged. The girl did not notice, and the girl and the dog were now running in opposite directions across the field. The leash reaches forty feet.

Time slows. This is a common thread in stories about people falling down, and normally time will slow for the airborne victim, but in this case perhaps it slowed for the watchers, too. It becomes an arc, an orbit. The leash will run out soon enough, we all know this, but let's just sit and savor this moment, this sunny day on a grassy field with friends.

The leash runs out.

The girl is suddenly airborne, taken completely by surprise as the full force of a hundred pound of dog yanks her arms. Her feet come fully out from under herself, and she is horizontal, facing downward in a superman-like position. She thumps satisfyingly face-first into the ground, having let go of the leash sometime mid-air.

She does not seem to be hurt. John has taken to loud, obvious guffawing. I am stifling my laughter, attempting politeness in the face of one of the best things I've ever seen. She looks up from the ground, and says in what sounded like a british accent (but could have been just a proper little girl voice):

"It's not nice to laugh at people when they fall."

John, and I, and hopefully you, gentle reader, must disagree.

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