Last week, I was sitting with a friend at dinner. As usual, my right foot, post four or five surgeries, was propped on a stool. My skirt was hiked to waist level. In an attempt at modesty definitely not fashion I have taken to wearing leggings under my skirts.
“Fuck,” I said.
“Fuck what?” said my dinner companion.
“Life is just plain weird.”
“Well yes,” he said. “Did you expect it to be any different?”
That’s a good point. Definitely I did not expect it to be like this. Really not expecting anything like this. I started to cry then hiccupped into a laugh and decided to finish my meal.
The night got weirder.
After the meal, I limped upstairs to get something. Can’t remember what – the pain medications short circuit memory. CRS syndrome.
Standing at the top of the stairs, holding the who-knows-what, I realized that I couldn’t make it down.
“Hey, I need some help up here,” I said loudly, really almost yelling. My friend’s a tad deaf in one ear.
He made it up the stairs. Slowly.
“Why are you creeping?” I asked.
“Bad knee,” he said.
“If you have a bad knee and I have a bad foot, how do we get down?”
We looked down the stairs; many rungs slamming into a wall then a sharp turn to the left. Yep, we did not think this through …
“Kind of glad I had them put the best grade padding under the carpet,” I said.
We giggled. I climbed on his back. We made it three rungs before he made a loud OOF and I struggled off as his knee buckled.
“Okay then. Plan B,” I said.
“Plan B?” he asked. “You got a Plan B?”
“Can you drag me by the feet, my good foot, if I lay on the stairs?”
“I could try. Let me rest my knee,” he said.
We sat, talked before he hobbled down three steps (now he was midway), grabbed the ankle of my left (good, non-surgery impaired) foot, and pulled me down two rungs. My head bounced off each step, eyes rolling back in my head.
“Stop,” I yelled, my eyes trying to focus. Stars circled my head just like in the cartoons.
“Huh?” he said braced against a wall but still holding my ankle.
“I have a concussion or at least a headache,” I said in a small voice.
“Sorry,” said my friend, dropping my ankle (which bounced) to hold his knee with one hand and the wall with the other hand. He lowered himself next to me. Bad knee out straight.
This was a conundrum. Neither of us could get down the steps. A goodly number of steps to go. Unexpectedly we were looking at Plan C.
“You do have a Plan C?” he asked.
“What exactly would be a Plan C?”
We sat on the stair pondering a Plan C, gathering our strength, and letting the pains ease. It got dark. Like nighttime dark. Still not ready. When the cat passed us on the stairs, we knew it was time to act.
“No one told me middle-age would be like this,” I said.
My friend nodded. His face solemn but twitching with a smile. So one at a time, we slid down the stairs on our butts.
“I need wine,” I said.
“Bourbon,” he said. With the help of furniture, a few rest breaks, and the goal of body-numbing alcohols, we made it through the living room to the refreshments.
“That was definitely freakish,” I said feeling the egg growing on the back of my head.
“And bizarre,” he said rubbing his rapidly swelling knee.
“Funny in a surreal way,” I said pulling bits of carpet out of my leggings and wondering where the who-knows-what was. The cat meowed her agreement.
“Bloody hell, where’s the toilet paper?”
Both of us turned to look at the stairwell.
Truthfully, on bad days, I wish my foot surgeon many – at least four – intrusive surgeries by new interns, in a teaching hospital, so he can learn empathy. On good days, I am reminded not to take simple things like going up and down steps for granted. To throw out the expectations so I can enjoy life’s surrealism.