Listen up, folks. I have some words of wisdom for you: You are never too cool to fall into a fountain in front of strangers who don't speak your language and have your left shoe fill up with water while your right knee swells to the size of a grapefruit and you wish you could just run away really fast but you are almost certain you broke a body part or two.
You are never too cool.
Last week I had some free time after my work for the day was finished. So I decided to take a little stroll down by the water and look for a new Magnum bar flavor I had yet to try. Priorities people, priorities.
Running parallel to the water was a long park. This park was tree-lined and quaint with lots of park benches. Instead of grass in the middle, there was a long canal-shaped water feature. And every 50 yards there would be a large, volcanic water fountain that would gush water down its sides and run into the canal. And of course all of this was covered in tile because this was, after all, Portugal, and Portugal is known for its tile work. It was a very beautiful park.
On this particular day, I had put on jeans and flats. I almost wore tennis shoes but I was trying to blend in. And nothing screams "tourist" like tennis shoes.
Oh, hindsight. You are a tricky, tricky thing.
As I was strolling along, I noticed that a group of high-school kids had congregated around one of the volcano water fountains and they were directly in my path. The only way around them was to cut a wide berth (Does that sound funny? Who says "wide berth" these days?) around them, almost leaving the park completely.
Well, I did not want to do this. I was an adult, after all, and these were high schoolers. Although there is something a little intimidating (even at my age) about a group of high school kids, I didn't want to back down and walk around them. It was a challenge, whether they knew it or not. So I just kept walking.
Pride cometh...does it not?
By the time I reached the largest group of them, I noticed the only way around them was if I slipped past three or four guys who were standing at the edge of the canal, right where the volcano met the canal. No problem, I will be stealthy and on my way.
I should have known this wouldn't work because when in my ENTIRE LIFE have I ever been stealthy?
NEVER. I have NEVER EVER been stealthy.
Just as I was mid-step around the group of guys, my left foot slipped and went right into the canal, scraping my leg the entire way down. My right knee came down hard on the tile and my hands went down to ensure I didn't face-plant into the volcano. At that moment, the guy closest to me let out a yell and bent down to help me up, grabbing me under my arm pits and talking to me in Portuguese.
The shock of it caused me to stay still for what seemed like a full minute, even though I am sure it was a split second. Every ounce of my being wanted to jump up and smile and laugh it off but it was physically impossible to move since I was almost certain I had a broken knee cap. I also knew that if I moved too quickly, I could slip again and I knew my bruised ego really couldn't handle that. Neither could my knees.
Actually, what I really wanted was the last five seconds of my life back. Unfortunately, I don't know how to do that.
Finally, I had regained my balance enough to let the poor kid help me up where I immediately mumbled something to him, trying to avoid eye contact with every person within a four block radius of me. As quickly as I could, which wasn't quick AT ALL, I hobbled away with a sloshy left leg and a right knee that seemed to bend backwards.
All I could think of was, "I think I may be seriously injured. I hate having one wet shoe. Are my knees supposed to make that noise? Why did I ever come to this stupid country? I need my mom."
Once I was a safe distance away (read: none of them could see me), I sat down and tried to figure out who I could blame for this entire incident. Unfortunately, I had no one to blame but myself and the dumb, wet tiles.
Somehow, I managed to limp back to the hotel, finding a delicious hazelnut-filled Magnum bar along the way. Nothing soothes a bruised ego like a little ice cream. However, nothing soothes bruised knees like a couple of ice packs and a bottle of ibuprofen. And a phone call to my mom.
Like I said, you are never too cool.