A few weeks ago, I went with the teen, my girlfriend’s daughter, to her new school’s open house, where you tour the facilities and meet the staff. She’s 14 now. Large high school, a maze of buildings, circuitous hallways, all crammed with aimlessly wandering people.
The teen was next to me and we chatted as we walked to each of her classes and met the new teachers. She’s observant and I like people-watching, so we spent the evening taking in the hectic scene and comparing notes.
At one point, when I was busy talking out one thought or another- and it’s important to mention here that I have fairly severe issues with visual processing, but to make a long story short: I walked directly into a pole. I didn’t clip it with a shoulder, this was not a glancing near-miss. I went full speed into the thing, with the pole neatly bisecting my entire body, including my face. This was human and metal going crash.
I staggered back and laughed and just ignored the pain. This kind of thing happens often enough that the pain gets unremarkable. The dignity expense is another story. I looked around to see who had noticed and everyone within eye sight had noticed, because the collision was so violent and there were so many people around. It didn’t help that the pole made the sound of a church bell as I walked into it.
Directly behind us was the teen’s best friend and the friend’s entire family, so they had a full view of the inglorious moment. When I looked back, each of them had a hand over their mouth…they weren’t stifling laughs, they were mortified, they were too shocked to laugh.
So, I’m staggering and rubbing my face and people are cringing and I had no idea what to say to break the ice. The teen, noticing my confusion, looked around at everyone and said- in full arch deadpan- “His genius doesn’t extend to walking,” at which point she took my elbow and guided me away from the pole.
Being as un-genuisy as it gets, this was a kindness on the part of the teen that I was okay with given the circumstances.
We resumed our walk and the teen leaned in and whispered, “Are you okay?” and I said, “Honestly, if not, how would we know?” and she said, “Good point.”
Now that school is in session, she texts me updates any time she notices that particular pole.
One from this week read, “I just saw the spot where you vertically face-planted.”
I texted back, “Even as an adult, I’m awkward in high school.”
And that’s kind of our whole relationship. It’s a lot of comedy routine and she does the verbal patter and I do the schadenfreude.