What to Do When You Fall Down

The Northeast is currently a slushy, icy, slippery mess. This could lead to many falls! You know, hilarious moments when people topple to the ground, cursed by gravity. But what if that person is you? What do you do??

So there you are. You've slipped or tripped and fallen. You ate it, you wiped out, you totally bit it. You're lying in the street or on the floor of a hallway or sprawled on the stairs and people are staring. It's the most awful thing that's ever happened to anyone. You don't yet have the magical Earth powers of Kwame, so you can't open up a hole in the ground and disappear into it, so what are you going to do? Well, there are a few strategies to handle this mortifying situation.

Strategy 1: Laugh Like Everyone's Watching
What's the best way to fight your way out of crushing embarrassment? Laugh with everyone else! Yes, bellow and hoot and holler and cackle as you lie on the ground, quietly dying inside. Try to get your friends involved too, if you have friends around. Point at yourself and laugh and maybe do a weird hand motion thing that signifies falling down and go "Whoop!" and then laugh again, even louder, hoping that no one notices that the tear streaking down your cheek isn't one of mirth, but one of soul-destroying embarrassment. Keep laughing and laughing and laughing, hoping (in vain) that people assume you're just a free-wheelin' type of person, instead of someone who is trying desperately to cover up their hideous mortification.

Strategy 2: Man Down, Man Down
Next to trying to laugh at yourself, the most immediate reaction to post-falling down embarrassment is to go for sympathy. This decision happens in the split second after the first person comes over and asks "Are you OK?" There's the laugh reaction and then there's the pity plea. The pity plea involves saying "No..." when asked if you're OK, it involves looking injured and shaken, saying "I really think I hurt myself..." You accept someone's offer to help you stand up, which you do unsteadily, clutching some part of your arm or leg, saying "Ohh... oh... this is really bad." This strategy works to immediately deflect attention from the embarrassing fact that you're ass-up in the street, but ultimately proves more deeply uncomfortable than the fall itself, as you're now creating a scene by being "hurt," and that's kind of worse than just falling and dealing with that. Plus, there's no exit strategy here, beyond lamely hobbling off with a fake limp. Sure you'll be out of the situation, but the attendant shame of having feigned injury will linger for days.

Strategy 3: Nothing to See Here
This is the strategy employed by yours truly. Basically: You fall, then quickly pick yourself up and keep walking as if nothing has happened. Nothing at all! Maybe you give a little look back to where you fell, as if to identify the imperfection in the sidewalk that caused your tumble (Ellen DeGeneres has a great standup bit about this phenomenon, but I can't find it on YouTube at the moment), but mostly you are just on the go, stopping for nothing. This is probably the best way to deal with an embarrassing spill, as it minimizes attention and is over fairly quickly. Really, there's no way to handle the situation gracefully — you fell and that is deeply, deeply shameful and horrible — but as strategies go, four out of five clumsy, drunken doctors recommend this tactic.

There is maybe a fourth strategy, some perfectly calibrated mixture of the above three, but only certain cool cucumbers have cracked that code and they aren't sharing any tips with the rest of us oafs. So, safe stepping out there! And just remember: if you fall on the street, know that I will be there, laughing and pointing forever.