You don’t really notice gravity all that much until
something goes just a little sideways and it takes you right down, like it did
me the other night. Could have been worse. I didn’t go straight to the center
of the earth, because the sidewalk stopped my face. The scariest part for my
friend Margo, who, being the one who was right beside me, is pretty much on the
hook for not grabbing me out of mid-air, was the sound: a mighty crack, like God snapping his fingers.
Margo, being a recovering Catholic, is trained to react to God snapping his
fingers, and she began to freak out right away. “Stay right there,” she yelled,
“right there in that 34-degree puddle on the pavement, in the wind and rain.
Don’t get up.” I started thinking.
What was that mighty
crack? Oh. Face hitting pavement.
Man, that was fast.
That didn’t take any time at all. Of course it doesn’t take any time, you
idiot. You’re, like, three feet tall. And isn’t that
exactly what old ladies say when they fall down? Yes
it is. “Oh, my word, dearie, it all just happened so fast! I didn’t have time
to think. And now my hip is broken, and soon I will die.” 
What the hell happened
to my airbags? Didn’t I used to have airbags? Shit. I should have had them
recharged after they deflated a few years ago.
I think I hit my
cheekbone. Cheekbone! I have cheekbones! Awesome.
Well, I’d better get
up, because we’re late for our dinner reservation, and it’s a serious dinner
. Margo was spinning in place making noises about throwing a
coat over me and fetching Dave, and I had to head her off. “You’d better not
get Dave,” I told her. “You’ll be in deep shit. Because he put me in your
custody, and he totally would have caught me.” He might have. His reflexes are miraculous.
He’s faster’n the smacky-sound on a spank.
Margo and I were trying out a restaurant that was hard to get
into. Especially her, because she’s tall. The restaurant is in a converted
broom closet. They’ve got room for five tables, with butter pats for spacers.  The sixth table was lubed up and jammed
in hard by the toilet in the rear. The kitchen is in the front. You walk right
through it, burners on the right, prep area on the left, with about a foot to
spare, when you walk in. The wait staff has to wear satin pants to cut down on
the friction. They’ll try for two seatings a night, and they don’t have room
for error. So if you do score a reservation, they want your credit card up
front and an option on one of your kidneys. If you don’t give them 24 hours
notice for a cancellation, the chef is going to Mexico on your dime.
I explained all this to Margo, who was not letting me up off
the sidewalk. “I’m fine,” I said. “We need to go eat before I lose a kidney.
Come on. Do I sound at all loopy?” Well, that’s not really a fair question.
Margo did a quick comparison to how I usually sound, and decided I might be as
good as I get.
America’s Fun Couple
We walked into the restaurant and I pointed at my face and said I’d just hit the sidewalk with it, and could I use the bathroom? They were nice as pie.
They funneled me to the back, and gave me swabbing alcohol, a washcloth, and
Neosporin. Once I was cleaned up and down to a steady ooze, they parked us at
table six, next to the toilet, away from everyone else, and gave me a napkin
filled with ice. I pressed it to one corner of my mouth and slid my dinner into
the other corner.  Bleu Cheese Pear Hazelnut Blood Salad, Risotto Parmesan Nettles With Blood, and Plasma
Panna Cotta. It was very good; maybe a little over-reliant on the one ingredient.
By the end of the meal, my napkin looked like laundry day used to look like for
me once a month. When the check came, a very, very, very long set of tongs emerged
from somewhere behind us and snatched the napkin away.
The next morning, my knee was exploring new directions in
life, and my upper lip was sprawling over my lower lip like a stranded oyster. No
matter how you cut it, it has to be noted that this has not been a good winter
for my face. First I poisoned it until it started sliding off my head like
magma, and now this. But my face is not my fortune. If I actually did fall on
my fortune, it would have hurt a lot worse, because it’s thin. Most of it is in
a collection of fine salamander art that has not appreciated in the marketplace
as anticipated. But still. I don’t ask much of my face. It’s there mainly to
give folks an idea if I’m coming or going, and to keep the head goo inside. Either
way, it’s falling down on the job.